One of the first decisions pet parents have to make when they adopt a new puppy or kitty is whether to get them spayed or neutered. For some, it’s an easy decision; they want their pets fixed as soon as they’re old enough. Others are tempted to let their female pet have at least one litter. Or they’re reluctant for their pet to have the surgery because they think it will change their personality (it won’t!) It’s a complicated issue, so we asked our vets, Dr. Sasha Naugler and Dr. Laura Wiles, for the top reasons why pet parents need to get their pets fixed.
Reduce Pet Overpopulation
The main reason animals should be spayed and neutered is to decrease overpopulation and the senseless euthanasia of so many pets that are strays. We don’t have enough resources to protect and find homes for all the homeless pets. In the 1970s, at least 13 million animals were euthanized every year. As spay/neuter efforts have increased, this number has decreased to around 5 million per year. This is a great improvement, but still a terrible tragedy for so many pets. PLEASE NEUTER OR SPAY your pet!?
Overpopulation of animals is a real issue. The shelters are full of dogs and cats needing homes. Spaying and neutering your pets prevents unwanted litters of puppies and kittens that might someday end up in one of those shelters with the risk of euthanasia.
Spayed and neutered pets live longer. The reason for this is unknown, but who cares? I want my pets around for as long as I can have them. Getting your pet spayed or neutered reduces the risk of multiple diseases. These include mammary, ovarian and uterine tumors (which can be fatal), uterine infections (30 percent of unsprayed animals will get this), and venereal tumors and venereal infections in females. Males can get prostatic cysts, venereal tumors, venereal infections, prostatic hyperplasia, and testicular tumors.
Spaying and neutering greatly reduces or even eliminates certain forms of cancer in dogs and cats. Neutering eliminates the chance for testicular cancer, and spaying greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer in animals.
Curb Behavioral Problems
Getting your pet fixed can help prevent behavioral problems. These include urine marking/spraying, roaming (animals have a strong desire to breed; they can dig under the fence, break through glass, and be very destructive), aggression, and heat cycles.
Estrogen and testosterone in pets that aren’t spayed or neutered can cause them to exhibit more aggression than their sterilized counterparts. Spaying or neutering also helps prevent pets from roaming, or “looking for love.” Also, the earlier you neuter your male pets, the less likely they are to start inappropriate marking in your home. Inappropriate marking is another reason pets end up in animal shelters looking for new homes.
No Messy Heat Cycles
Dr. Wiles Heat cycles are messy! Dogs frequently need diapers or “bitchy britches” to keep the discharge off the floor and furniture. Intact female dogs and cats also run the risk of having a pyometra, a life threatening uterine infection. It’s a serious problem and will usually involve emergency surgery to save the animal’s life. Heat cycles also lead to a greatly increased risk of mammary cancer. Dr. Wiles and Dr. Naugler recommend you have a discussion with your veterinarian about the pros and cons of spaying or neutering, and your goals, lifestyle, type of pet, etc., in order to make an informed decision. The overwhelming evidence and research tells us that spaying or neutering your cat or dog has many more benefits than risks.