Accounting for both the known benefits and potential risks associated with de-sexing, the NZVA recommends:
Research reveals that de-sexed animals live longer lives. No unplanned pregnancies is a definite benefit also. De-sexing will benefit individual cats and dogs by:
De-sexing cats and dogs will also provide benefits to their owners:
Obesity is a major health problem in companion cats and dogs in New Zealand. De-sexing cats and dogs has been associated with reduced metabolic rates and weight gain. The risk of weight gain is not a contraindication to de-sexing as it can be simply managed.
There is some evidence that suggests delaying de-sexing in large breed dogs, (in particular golden retrievers), until after growth plates are closed (i.e. around 12 months old) may reduce the future risks of rupturing cranial cruciate ligaments in the knee.
There is weak evidence that supports a possible link between urinary incontinence and de-sexing female dogs. The risk of incontinence may be higher in dogs that were de-sexed at a younger age. Delaying de-sexing until after 16-20 weeks of age, particularly in large breeds may reduce the risk of developing urinary incontinence.
Some studies suggest that pre-pubertal de-sexing may cause worsening of pre-existing hip dysplasia; however as hip dysplasia is a complex disease with genetic and environmental factors, it isn’t known as yet how strong this evidence is.
There is some evidence that certain tumours (such as osteosarcomas) may be more common in de-sexed pets. This should be weighed against the reduced risk of other tumours that de-sexing provides.