From the ASPCA Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Whether you’ve recently adopted a pet or you’re considering it, one of the most important health decisions you’ll make is to spay or neuter your cat or dog. Spaying—removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet—is a veterinary procedure that requires minimal hospitalization and offers lifelong health benefits. Neutering—removing the testicles of your male dog or cat—will vastly improve your pet’s behavior and keep him close to home.
Many states and counties have established low-cost spay/neuter programs that make surgery easily affordable and accessible. To find a low-cost program near you, search our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Provider Database. If you're in New York City, the ASPCA mobile spay/neuter clinic offers free or low-cost spay/neuter surgery for financially needy dog and cat owners with proof of public assistance. Please contact our hotline at (877) SPAY-NYC for a listing of dates and locations in all five boroughs.
Not convinced yet? Check out our handy—and persuasive—list of the top 10 reasons to spay or neuter your pet!
1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal 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.
2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
3. Your spayed female won't go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they'll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
4. Your male dog won't want to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he's free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
7. It is highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet's spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
9. Your pet doesn't need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth. Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering
Myths About Spaying/Neutering
Some people don’t want to spay or neuter their dog because they have heard about some bad “side effects” of the surgery, or because they have picked up some mistaken ideas along the way. There are a number of myths about spaying and neutering. Here are a few of the most common, and the truth about each.
Altering makes a dog fat. Spaying or neutering at the youngest possible age—before the dog has reached sexual maturity—generally has no effect whatsoever on weight. Dogs who undergo the surgery after reaching sexual maturity may show an increased appetite because altering affects hormone balance. However, dogs who are fat are usually fat because they are fed too much and/or do not get enough exercise.
Altering makes a dog lazy. Neutering reduces a male dog’s desire to roam (often over long distances) to find female dogs in heat, and altering can somewhat reduce a dog’s energy level. Altering does not make dogs lazy. Altered dogs are as playful and energetic as intact dogs.
Altering changes a dog’s personality. The only personality changes that result from spaying or neutering are the positive changes described above—no roaming, less tendency to mark territory, and less aggression. Aside from these changes, your dog will be no less like himself than humans are after undergoing vasectomy or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).
My dog has a right to experience sex. Sex, for a dog, is nothing more than the result of a powerful instinctive drive to reproduce. People who worry about this issue are usually over-identifying with their dog. This is an excuse often presented by men, who cringe at the very idea of castration—even though it is a painless surgical procedure being performed on their dog, not on them.
It’s a good thing for our children to see the miracle of birth.Bringing more puppies into a world already overburdened with thousands of homeless dogs is not the best way to show your children the birth process. You can show them videos or even let them witness live human births on the internet. You might also want to consider that if you allow your dog to have puppies so that your children can observe the miracle of birth, you should also take your children to an animal shelter, so they can observe the sad results—the thousands of dogs who are killed every day because no one will give them a home.
What about the Expense?
While it is true that surgery for your dog costs money, you should be aware that the cost of altering your dog will save you money in medical care in the long run, because your dog is less likely to develop common diseases that afflict unaltered animals as they age. Also, providing basic veterinary care for the life of your dog—annual exams, required vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and so on—will cost a considerable amount of money, and altering is just another of those expenses.
But because of the seriousness of the pet overpopulation problem, there are countless programs that provide low-cost spaying and neutering for pets. Animal shelters often provide this service, and if your local shelter does not, they can probably tell you about a shelter nearby that does.
Here are some websites that can help you find a low-cost spay/neuter program:
·www.spayusa.org. A national referral service that can direct you to more than 900 clinics that offer spaying and neutering at reduced prices.
Use any search engine on the web (Yahoo, Excite, Google, etc.) to find extensive lists of clinics by city and state. Try “low-cost neuter” to start your search.
For much more information on spaying and neutering, including a page about this issue written for children, check out www.wonderpuppy.net.
When to Neuter and Spay:
Pets can become capable of reproduction as early as 6 months of age, so it is important to spay and neuter pets by that age. Not only is there no evidence to support the old wives' tale about benefits of letting pets go through a heat cycle or have a litter, there is a preponderance of evidence that it is healthier for pets to be spayed or neutered before the first heat cycle (estrus) and sexual maturity. Sterilization can safely be done before then, as endorsed by the AVMA and other major animal health and welfare organizations.
Research from the AVMA and other sources indicates that younger animals heal faster and are lower surgical risks. However, older animals can typically be spayed and neutered safely as well.
Early spay/neuter starting at 8 weeks of is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Humane Society of the United States, the American Kennel Club, the Cat Fanciers Association, the American Humane Association and many other organizations.
As long as a pup or kitten weighs more than two pounds and is 8 weeks old, he or she can be neutered or spayed. Many veterinarians practice safe early sterilization. Some of the many benefits of early sterilization: faster healing and recovery time, and the earlier a pet is spayed or neutered, the less chance of developing a number of serious diseases and disorders. For example, a female spayed before her first heat (six to nine months of age) has one-seventh the risk of developing mammary cancer as does an intact female.
In the 1970s, the veterinary medical and other animal protection communities began questioning the standard age minimum of six months for surgical neutering of dogs and cats. Altering pets between 6 and 7 months was based more on tradition than on medical reasons. Among reasons to revisit the minimum age: many young animals were being adopted out of shelters without being neutered at the time of adoption. Unfortunately, some adopters failed to abide by their adoption contracts that called for them to have the adopted pets neutered, resulting in more litters of unwanted animals.
Some veterinarians began practicing early-age sterilization in the 1970s when safe pediatric anesthetic techniques became available. With the advent of early-age procedures, shelters were able to have young animals neutered before or at adoption. There has been no evidence of increased risks to cats or dogs sterilized as early as eight weeks of age. An increasing number of shelters and animal rescue groups have adopted the practice of early-age neuter/spay, enabling them to make sure all of their adopted animals are sterilized.
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