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To Spay or Not to Spay – That is the Question. Presented by Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD

To Spay or Not to Spay – That is the Question. Presented by Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD


March 12, 2024 - March 29, 2029    
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (ET)


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Webinar Description

Veterinarians used to routinely recommend that your dog be neutered (spayed or castrated) at 6 months of age. That recommendation has been questioned in the past decade as information about the possible health consequences of early age neuter (or neuter at any age) comes to light.

Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD, will discuss what we know about the relationship of spay/neuter timing and changes in the risk of development of cancer and/or of orthopedic injuries such as cranial cruciate ligament disease (CCL tear). She will also talk about how spay/neuter can affect behavior, for better or worse. She will specifically discuss some recent studies and will detail problems designing effective studies to ask these questions. She will also cover alternative approaches to the traditional spay/neuter surgery. If you are wondering when, or if, you should neuter your dog, make your decision based on facts, not emotions.


Learning Objectives

  • Interpret recent findings about spay/neuter outcomes in light of what those studies can actually tell us
  • Make reasoned decisions about the risk of cancer/orthopedic disease and early spay/neuter.
  • List alternatives to traditional spay/neuter and compare their pros and cons to traditional spay/neuter
  • RELAX about this decision!


Your Presenter – Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD


Jessica is a veterinary researcher who is fascinated by dog behavior. After eleven years working as a computer programmer, she decided to go back to school to research the causes of behavior problems in dogs. She received her veterinary degree in 2012 from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, where she also received a Master’s degree for her work on stress behaviors in hospitalized dogs. After graduation, she completed a year-long internship specializing in shelter medicine at the University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program. She received her PhD in genetics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, studying a group of foxes (often known as the “Siberian silver foxes”) which have been bred over many generations to be friendly to humans. She is currently working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a postdoctoral associate, studying the genetics of behavior in pet dogs through the Darwin’s Ark project and the Working Dogs Project. Her ultimate goal is to find genetic causes of fearfulness in dogs, to work with behaviorally challenged shelter dogs, and to help people better understand the science behind dog behavior. She also frequently teaches online classes and webinars about canine genetics and behavior. Jessica lives in Raymond, NH with her husband and three dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @dogzombieblog or on Facebook at



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