Why Spay or Neuter Your Pet?
When you bring your puppy and kitten to the veterinarian’s office for a check-up, one of the recommendations may be to spay or neuter your new pet. Spaying and neutering dogs and cats has many medical and behavioral benefits that can enhance the quality of life and lifespan of your beloved pet.
The most commonly known reason to spay and neuter dogs and cats is to decrease the number of un-adopted pets in the United States. While spaying your female dog or cat does indeed eliminate the chances of an unwanted pregnancy, it can also stop a female from going into heat two to three times a year. Another strong argument for spaying females is the prevention of a pyometra, or an infected uterus. A pyometra occurs only in intact (non-spayed) females because of the hormones from the ovaries. This can lead to a life-threatening infection that requires emergency surgery to fix. Spaying females can also decrease chances of cancerous mammary tumors.
One of the main concerns that pet owners have when it comes to spaying your female is the cost. While it can be expensive to spay a healthy puppy or kitten, it can be even more expensive to pay for an emergency surgery or care for a mom and her many puppies or kittens.
Neutering male dogs and cats can decrease wandering, mounting and spraying behaviors by intact males. Many studies also show that neutering males can decrease chances of testicular cancers and decrease problems with the prostate, as well as decrease chances of perianal hernias. Neutering can also decrease fighting between tomcats, which can decrease the number of abscesses from cat bites.
The recommended time to spay females for dogs and cats is before the first heat cycle, which can be as early as 6 months of age. The current literature varies a bit on the ideal time for a male to be neutered. The newest studies recommend neutering large breed dogs closer to one year of age to allow their growth plates to fully close. Smaller dog breeds can be neutered after 6 months of age. Male cats can be neutered as early as 4 months of age. Another misconception is that dogs and cats can be too old to be spayed or neutered. While an older age can increase some risks under anesthesia, ask your veterinarian about the benefits and risks associated with the anesthesia and procedure.