Whether you’ve recently adopted a pet or you’re considering it, one of the most important health decisions you’ll make is to spay or neuter your cat or dog.
Ovariohysterectomy, or “spaying” is the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus. This makes the female unable to reproduce, and eliminates her heat cycle. Orchiectomy, or the typical “neuter” is the removal of the testes, which makes the male unable to reproduce, and eliminates breeding behaviors.
You might ask yourself, why is it important for my dog/cat to be spayed/neutered? Good question! There are many reasons to spay/neuter your animals. Some of the most common reasons are as follows:
1) Spayed/neutered animals are better behaved than their intact counterparts.
Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families, where as unsterilized (not neutered) males will roam the outdoors in search of a mate.
This can result in injury from a traffic accident, fights with other males, and death. Intact males also “spray”, this is the act of marking their territory with a strong smelling urine.
Unsterilized female cats will go into heat, for approximately four to five days, every three weeks during breeding season.
They yowl, and urinate more frequently, sometimes all over the house in an effort to advertise their availability to potential mates.
Female dogs also tend to attract males, sometimes from great distances.
They also have bloody discharge emanating from their vulva for approximately a week, with the ability to conceive up to a week after.
2) Spayed/neutered animals will lead a longer, healthier life.
Besides preventing unwanted breeding, neutering a male cat or dog before six months of age eliminates the chance of testicular cancer, and prevents prostate disease from occurring.
Spaying a female cat/dog prevents pyometra (a life endangering situation in which pus fills the uterus), and breast cancer. Breast cancer is fatal in about 50% of dogs, and 90% of cats.
On average, neutering/spaying your dog will increase lifespan from 1 -3 years, and neutering/spaying your feline friend will increase their lifespan by 3 -5 years.
3) Your spayed/neutered animals will be much safer outside.
Sterilizing your cat/dog makes him/her a better pet, reducing the urge to roam, and decreasing the risk of contracting diseases carried by feral animals.
Surveys indicate that as many as 85% of dogs hit by cars are unaltered.
Intact male cats living outside have been shown to live on average, less than two years.
4) It is highly cost effective to spay/neuter your animals.
The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less expensive than the cost of having, and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered animal escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray, or hit by a car.
5) Neutering/Spaying your pet helps fight pet overpopulation.
Almost everyone loves puppies and kittens, but some people lose interest when these animals grow up. As a result, millions of cats and dogs, of all ages, and breeds are euthanized annually, or suffer as strays. Many of these are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering. Rarely surviving for more than a few years on their own, strays die painfully by starvation, disease, freezing, or being hit by cars.
Some people, understandably, have concerns about the actual procedure. The truth is, while both spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians on cats and dogs. Like any surgical procedure, sterilization is associated with some anesthetic and surgical risk, but the overall incidence of complications is very low.
Spaying and neutering your animals is not being unkind, or depriving them of any sort of full life. In reality, you are giving them the best medical chance they can have, by eliminating and/or reducing the risk of cancer, diseases, and many other medical conditions that occur as a result of not spaying/neutering your animals.
Dr. Linda Register DVM, CVA – East West Animal Hospital
Information based on:
ASPCA – Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Petfinder – Why Spay or Neuter?
SpayUSA.org – Benefits of Spay/Neuter
AMVA – Spaying and Neutering