Want to do something for your pet that is great for his health and is also an act of responsible pet ownership? Have your animal spayed or neutered. When you make the decision to spay or neuter a pet, you are also making a socially responsible choice — each year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized.
So when would a pet owner not want to spay or neuter a pet? According to Bonnie Beaver, DVM, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, the only instance should be if the dog or cat is a breeding animal. Some hunters feel that if a male hunting dog is castrated, he will not work effectively, but this is just an old wives’ tale. “There really hasn’t been any strong scientific evidence that says that this is the case,” says Dr. Beaver.
Important Reasons to Spay and Neuter Pets
Here are some of the pet health benefits of choosing to sterilize your furry companion:
- Relieves stress. “Physiologically, animals are geared toward pregnancy or nursing,” says Beaver. “If they are not doing that, they are physiologically stressed.”
- Cuts down cancer risks. When you spay or neuter your pet, it reduces your pet’s risk of developing certain cancers and may lengthen their lives. In females, spaying cuts down the odds of developing mammary, ovarian, and uterine cancer. In males, the risk of developing testicular cancer is decreased after neutering.
- Prevents urinary tract infections. Having a pet spayed or neutered also lowers your pet’s risk of developing urinary tract problems. This can be particularly important for cats since urinary tract disease can be very serious or even fatal in felines.
- Promotes better behavior. When you spay or neuter your pet, it reduces undesirable behavior. “It can decrease the roaming of males who may get hit by cars or get picked up as strays,” says Beaver. In dogs, it can lessen howling, barking, and urine marking. Male cats will be less likely to mark their territory with urine when they are neutered; spaying female cats will prevent yowling, which is what they do to attract males when they are in heat.
- Eliminates female canine menstruation. Female dogs experience heat cycles approximately every six months or so, which can leave bloody stains around the house. “Female dogs that are not spayed have bloody discharge,” says Beaver.
How Will Your Pet Feel?
Spaying or neutering a pet is a major surgery, but these are also some of the most commonly performed procedures. Your pet will be given general anesthesia during the surgery, and pain medications are often given after the procedure to minimize pain or discomfort. After the surgery, your veterinarian may recommend keeping your pet indoors in a quiet place to recover. She may also suggest ways to keep your pet calm and prevent your pet from running and jumping. Stitches are usually removed 10 to 14 days later.
It is recommended that female dogs and cats not be spayed while they are in heat since they may be susceptible to increased blood loss. If you want to have an older dog or cat undergo sterilization, have your veterinarian evaluate your pet to make sure the animal is in good health before undergoing the procedure.
Your pet will be calmer and better behaved after surgery — reducing the breeding instinct can eliminate the desire to roam to find a mate. More importantly, your dog or cat will be healthier, more content, and a more devoted member of the family.