The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Pet!
Merritt Milam | January 31, 2023
The myths and facts about spaying and neutering pets.
For most pet parents, the decision to spay or neuter may not be the most important thing on their mind at the time they get a new pet – but it should be! For years, the topic of whether to “alter” a pet by spaying or neutering has brought active comments on both sides of the issue. This month we’ll look at the myths and facts surrounding these procedures and the benefits they bring to you and your pet.
Each year there are approximately 2.7 million healthy dogs and cats that are euthanized in shelters each year.
One unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years.
One female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 370,000 kittens in just seven years.
Common Myths and Facts
Here are a few of the common misconceptions and facts about altering a dog or cat.
Myth: It will change their personality.
Fact: Spay and neuter surgery does not affect a pet’s personality. While neutering will reduce the level of testosterone in your pet and help reduce unwanted behavior (aggression, urine marking, roaming, etc.), there is no guarantee it will completely change their behavior. Learned or habitual behaviors will likely not change – that takes training.
Myth: It cost too much.
Fact: The procedure is affordable, especially compared to the cost of caring for unwanted litter or taking them to a shelter.
Myth: It affects my pet’s intelligence and ability to learn and play.
Fact: A pet’s cognitive abilities are not affected by spaying or neutering them.
Myth: It will cause my pet to become overweight.
Fact: Like humans, pets become overweight by not exercising, overeating, and improper food choices. With proper exercise and diet your pet will stay fit and trim.
Myth: I shouldn’t spay or neuter my female pet until they have one litter.
Fact: It is best to spay females before they are sexually mature because spaying reduces the risk of certain cancers in female dogs and cats by as much as 85%.
Spay and neuter surgery does have a few important medical benefits. According to ASPCA, these include:
Longer/healthier life – Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Dogs: While the traditional age for neutering is six to nine months, healthy puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered. Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of post-operative complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight, or dogs that have health problems.
Cats: It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered. To potentially avoid the start of urine spraying and eliminate the chance of pregnancy, it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your cat reaches five months of age. It’s possible to spay a female cat while she’s in heat.
Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best time to spay or neuter your pet.
Aside from the significant increase in longevity because of spay and neuter surgery, curbing the unwanted pet population from the streets and shelters is important. Thankfully, responsible pet parents do their part to reduce unwanted litters by spaying and neutering their pets. These simple, effective procedures will help your pets live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Those are benefits everyone can be excited about!
The Humane Society of the United States