Yes! There are many medical and behavioral benefits of spaying or neutering your dog or cat. And, it greatly helps reduce the number of unwanted animals in shelters. Spaying and neutering saves lives!
Neuter refers to the surgical sterilization of an animal that renders them in capable of reproducing. The term neuter refers to sterilization of females or males but is commonly used to refer to male castration. Removal of the testicles prevents testosterone and sperm production. Spay is the surgical sterilization of females. The ovaries and uterus are removed thereby preventing estrogen production and pregnancy.
Benefits of Spay and Neuter:
- Prevents unplanned pregnancies. Birth control is one of the main reasons we spay and neuter our pets. Every year millions of animals are euthanized across the country because there are just too many and not enough homes. Even if you find a home for your dog’s puppies or cat’s kittens, those are homes that could have been filled by homeless animals, and the new owners may allow their pets to have more puppies and kittens keeping the problem growing.
- Reduces cancer risk. Mammary (breast) cancer is relatively common in intact (unspayed) females. Spaying a dog before their first heat cycle virtually eliminates their risk of mammary cancer later in life. Spaying cats before their first heat cycle reduces their risk by about 90%. Risk increases significantly with each heat cycle an animal experiences. Therefore, it is important to spay early. In addition, spaying and neutering eliminates the risks of testicular, ovarian, and uterine cancers and greatly reduces the risk of prostate and rectal cancers.
- Prevents life-threatening infections. “Pyometra” is a severe, life-threatening infection of the uterus that occurs commonly among older, unspayed dogs and cats. Spaying eliminates this risk.
- Reduces spraying, urine marking (leg lifting), mounting, and the tendency to run away in search of a mate. Neutering also decreases urine odor which is especially important in male cats who have exceptionally pungent smelling urine and are prone to spraying when they are not neutered. Decreased roaming in dogs and cats reduces the chances of your pet getting lost or seriously injured (such as being hit by a car) when they leave home in search of a mate.
- Reduces aggression. The elimination of testosterone reduces hormonally-induced aggression.
- No “heat” cycle or false pregnancies. Intact females will have vaginal bleeding (spotting) during estrus. This is referred to as being “in heat”. Unspayed female cats will also cry incessantly and persistently try to escape to find a male. Unspayed female dogs may also experience false pregnancies.
When should you spay or neuter your dog or cat?
The best time to sterilize your pet is before six months of age. This has the greatest impact in preventing medical and behavioral problems associated with gender-specific hormones.
Common Spay/Neuter Myths:
- MYTH: Spaying or neutering will calm a pet down.
TRUTH: Spaying or neutering does not alter personality. If a dog is energetic and hyperactive, it will be so after spay or neuter.
- MYTH: A spayed or neutered dog will become fat and lazy.
TRUTH: Weight gain is the result of taking in more calories than what is burned off. If your pet gains weight it is because they are overfed.
- MYTH: It is unnatural to deprive my pet of a sex life.
TRUTH: Animals have sex strictly to satisfy hormone-induced instincts, not for pleasure.
Spayed and neutered dogs and cats live healthier lives with less behavioral and medical problems and don’t contribute to the problem of pet overpopulation.