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Should I REALLY spay/neuter my pet?

Posted 05.13.16 by Emily Lindsey

Many people have heard it is important to spay/neuter your dog and cat but not everyone knows why it is so important.

So why do veterinarians recommend having your dog or cat sterilized?

By spaying or neutering your pet you are preventing many life threatening infections and reducing the risk of certain types of spay neutercancer! Female dogs and cats can develop a dangerous uterine infection if they are not spayed. This dangerous infection is known as a pyometra. When this uterine infection develops, if the pet is not seen for emergency surgery and IV antibiotics, she will become septic and die quickly. Not only is the infection life threatening but the necessary antibiotics and life saving surgery are very expensive. Spaying your cat/dog completely prevents this infection since the uterus is removed in a spay.

Spaying your dog reduces the risk of mammary, ovarian and uterine cancer, too. In fact, studies have shown that female cats spayed prior to 6 months of age had a 91% decrease in the risk of developing mammary cancer.  Dogs that go through one heat cycle have increased the incidence of developing mammary cancer by 8%. After a dog goes through two  heat cycles the incidence of mammary cancer has increased by 26%.  Thus spaying dogs and cats directly decreases their chance of developing mammary carcinoma later in life.

Female dogs will have a heat cycle every 6-9 months depending on the breed. When a dog is in heat they will produce a bloody discharge. For indoor pets, this can be an undesirable mess.  Female cats during breeding season can go into heat for 4-5 days every 3 weeks! Cats typically become very vocal and needy during their heat cycle.

Neutering male dogs and cats reduces undesirable behaviors. Intact males are prone to urine marking behavior, roaming and fighting with other males. Neutering reduces all three of these tendencies.  Thus neutering dogs and cats can result in a more enjoyable pet. Neutering also reduces the risk of getting lost or hit by a car!

In addition to sterilization being a healthy option and reducing undesirable behaviors in your pet,  spaying and neutering your pet is a morally responsible decision. Many dogs and cats die in shelters every day. In fact it is estimated that 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized in shelters every year. Thus, unless a pet is being used for planned appropriate breeding, many feel that accidental litters are not socially responsible.

neuter spay

Allowing your pet to have one litter of kittens/puppies can have many hidden, unexpected costs. Some breeds have complicated pregnancies and require c-sections to deliver puppies safely. Breeders are prepared to incur the costs associated with complicated pregnancies and litters of puppies/kittens.  Some mother cats/dogs become ill after delivery and require hospitalization and the litter may need to be bottle fed. As the puppies/kittens grow they need to be dewormed and vaccinated. These medical expenses add up and letting your pet have just one litter of puppies/kittens can be very expensive.

Although a spay (removing the ovaries and uterus) or neuter(removing the testicles)  is considered a major surgery, they are performed routinely and very safely. Pre-surgical blood work is recommended to ensure that your pet is a safe anesthetic candidate. Pain medication, IV fluids and general anesthesia result in a safe, pain free recovery.

Spaying or neutering your dog/cat results in a healthier, better behaved pet. The benefits medically and behaviorally make sterilization an easy choice for any loved pet.

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