From the moment you bring your new cat or dog home, you will be charged with making many decisions for your pet during his or her lifetime. One of the most important health decisions you will make is the decision to spay or neuter your pet.
Spaying is a veterinary procedure that involves removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet. This procedure eliminates a female’s ability to reproduce and puts an end to her heat cycles. Neutering involves removing the testicles of your male dog or cat so that he can no longer reproduce. Both procedures are done in a veterinarian’s office and require a minimal hospital stay. Spaying and neutering are responsible ways pet owners can ensure the health of their animal companions.
February is National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month. What better time to highlight the many benefits of spaying or neutering your pet. Here are a few things to consider:
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that between 6 and 8 million healthy, adoptable homeless animals enter shelters in the U.S. each year. Less than half that number are adopted. Sadly, millions of healthy companion animals are euthanized every year due to a shortage of loving homes, lack of shelter space, and resources. By spaying or neutering your pet, you will be helping to cut down on the number of animals in need of loving homes.
- In females, spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors. According to the ASPCA, such diseases and tumors are cancerous in approximately 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats8.
- In male pets, neutering prevents testicular cancer and prostate issues.
An intact (unneutered) male dog or cat will do whatever he can to go looking for a mate. This often includes finding a way to leave home and roam around to search for a mate. Roaming increases the risk that your pet will get into fights with other animals, get struck by a car, or have an accident on their own.
Neutering your male helps to ensure he will stay safely at home with you.
Female cats generally go into heat every three weeks during the breeding season. During the four or five days they are in heat, they will let males know that they are seeking a partner. She usually does this by yowling and frequent urination, which you might not appreciate all over the house.
It is a myth that having your pet spayed or neutered will change the animal’s personality. However, it tends to make a pet less aggressive.
Unneutered dogs and cats are far more likely to mark their territory. This behavior is known as “spraying,” or leaving their strong-scented urine all over the house to indicate it is their place. Unneutered dogs are more likely to engage in excessive barking, mounting, and other dominance-related behaviors.