If you grew up in the ’80s or ’90s, then you know the highlight of staying home from school sick was watching The Price is Right. For over 30 years, Bob Barker signed off with, “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.” For those who have grown up in the 2000s, Drew Carey has continued the mantra. But besides the fact that Bob or Drew said so, just why should you spay or neuter your pet?
There are many reasons to spay (female pets) or neuter (male pets, though this term is sometimes used for both genders) your dog or cat that benefit you both!
First and foremost, it helps reduce pet overpopulation. Millions of healthy dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States every year simply because there aren’t enough homes for them all.
According to The American Veterinary Medical Association, the capture, impoundment, and eventual destruction of unwanted animals costs taxpayers and private humanitarian agencies over a billion dollars each year.
Improved Health and Behavioral Issues
Numerous studies have found that spaying and neutering increase your pet’s life expectancy by 1 to 5 years. Reasons for this increase include decreased risk of certain cancers, protection from contracting diseases, and less risk of getting hit by a car if they roam in search of a mate. According to Spay USA, as many as 85% of dogs that are hit by cars are unaltered.
Benefits for Female Dogs and Cats:
Your dog will no longer have heat cycles and will have a decreased desire to roam. As veterinarians, we’ve had numerous clients who’ve had puppies that would dart out the door any chance they got and would be nearly impossible to catch despite obedience training. After they’re spayed, they no longer do this.
Your spayed female cat won’t go into frequent heat cycles. During breeding season, an unaltered female can go into heat for 4 to 5 days every 3 weeks. To attract males, she can yowl and urinate much more often than usual—sometimes spraying the house!
Spaying your pet, especially when done before a heat cycle, virtually eliminates uterine infections (including pyometra, a potentially fatal uterine infection that must be caught quickly), uterine and ovarian cancers, and reduces the risk of breast tumors. These tumors have a 50% probability of being malignant in dogs and 90% in cats.
Benefits for Male Dogs and Cats:
Your pet will be much less likely to roam in search of a female. Research varies on how far away an altered male cat can detect a female in heat, but some say he can smell her from a mile away and track a roaming female for up to nine miles! A male dog can find a female in heat from three miles away.
Neutering can help your dog behave better by curbing their aggression levels (which will also reduce their likelihood of fighting other males). It will also reduce their urge to mount other dogs, people, or anything else they can manage to reach, and it can help reduce the urge to mark their territory inside the home.
Your altered male cat will be less likely to spray urine around the house, especially when neutered before this behavior is learned.
Lastly, testicular cancer is eliminated in neutered pets and prostate cancer and infections are greatly reduced.
What Spaying and Neutering Won’t Do
Despite what you might have heard, spaying and neutering will not cause your pet to become overweight. The causes of weight problems are lack of exercise and overfeeding. An altered pet will remain at an ideal weight as long as exercise and a healthy, portioned diet are provided.
Spaying and neutering is not a replacement for socializing your pet and providing obedience training. While it can reduce undesirable habits and behaviors, it’s not a quick fix and may not produce the desired effect in pets that have deeply ingrained habits.
Surgery Cuts Costs
Spaying and neutering are among the best things you can do for you, your pet, and your wallet. Long-term monetary costs for unaltered pets include potential treatment for cancer, pyometra, caring for a mother and her litter, or other health problems that roaming pets can incur. Gone will be the stress that the behavior of an unaltered pet causes us. Then there’s the inestimable pain that losing a pet far too early costs us. Bob Barker was correct, when it comes to spaying and neutering our pets, the price is right.
If you have any questions about the right time to spay or neuter your pets or you’d like to schedule an appointment to do so, please give us a call.