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When is the best time to have my dog spayed, what health benefits will my dog receive, and how will it affect my pet?

The best time to have an animal spayed or neutered is at six months of age or when your pet is sexually mature; ask your veterinarian. For older pets you can spay or neuter at any age, as long as they are in good health and not overweight. If you have an animal that is pregnant, consult your veterinarian.According to Channing L. Bete, publisher of Scripto books on animal health, spaying or neutering provides protection from:

Breast cancer - almost half of unspayed dogs develop breast tumors; virtually none do if spayed before their first heat, and chances are reduced if spayed thereafter. Cats have fewer breast tumors, but when they do occur, they are nearly always malignant. Spaying almost eliminates this risk.

Male problems - About 60 percent of older unneutered dogs suffer from enlarged prostate glands. Neutering lowers the risk of this painful disorder, as well as other problems. Neutered dogs and cats have reduced risk of prostate cancer, and no risk of testicular tumors.

Spaying a female pet eliminates the heat cycle, ends the frantic efforts of a dog or cat to get outside to find a mate, and puts a stop to the bloody discharge and the attraction of unwelcome visitors.

Neutering a male pet stops the mating drive, reduces the urge to roam, ends mounting behavior and stops spraying.

For either sex spaying and neutering removes discomfort, distress and distraction, and frees your pet to enjoy time spent with you!

If you have a question (health, behavior problems, laws, etc.) regarding animals, wild or domestic, send it to Leslie Kelson-Probert, Salt Lake County Animal Services, 511 W. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84123.