There are dozens of great reasons to spay or neuter your pet, yet many pet owners are unaware of the consequences of not spaying or neutering until it is too late. If you are thinking about pet adoption, or are already a new pet owner, here is some key information you should know about the benefits of spaying or neutering, and the dangers of waiting.
A common concern among pet owners when it comes to spaying and neutering is the fear that to do so will somehow alter a pet's personality. Medical professionals agree this is not the case, but it will alter certain behavior.
For example, intact pets are far more likely to wander away from home in search of a mate, leading to the possibility of loss, theft, or an accident, not to mention the very real possibility of an unexpected litter. They are also more likely to engage in persistent territorial marking behavior to entice potential mates and warn off competitors-in and outside your house.
An un-spayed cat or dog will also go into heat which includes bleeding, loud vocalization, an insistent desire to go outside, and increased affection, spraying, and urination. Prior to this, she may be snappy and aggressive-think the animal equivalent to PMS. To make matters worse, a female that does not find a mate will go into heat more frequently and it does not stop with age.
Similarly, intact males tend to be more aggressive and persistent in their desire to hump-anything. This can be particularly problematic when anything include you, your kids, your guests, your furniture.etc.
Spaying eliminates the risk of uterine and ovarian cancers as well as reducing the risk of breast cancer, and neutering eliminates the possibility of testicular and prostate cancer. This is especially important when you consider that cancer is a leading cause of death among canines.
Other health problems include pyometra, a very serious and often fatal condition in female pets that have not been spayed, which requires surgery to fix.
Female cats and dogs can experience their first heat at around six months of age meaning pregnancy is possible long before you stop thinking of her as a puppy or a kitten. New pet owners can fall into the trap of believing they've got plenty of time to get a spay or neuter only to find out the hard way that time is up.
Veterinarians recommend performing the surgery between two and four months of age. This will not only save you money but is also better for the health of your pet. Younger animals tolerate the anesthesia and heal faster than older animals that require more drugs and have a higher risk of bleeding and trauma (adding up to a more expensive surgery).
Furthermore, once your pet has reached maturity there are certain physical changes that can't be reversed. For example, the anal glands of mature intact males need to be expressed by either the pet owner or a veterinarian.
That's right. Expressed.
Not only can your dog not do it for himself, but full glands will squirt when your dog is startled. For pet owners who are unfamiliar with this particular feature, the substance produced by a dog's anal glands is horrifically pungent, ridiculously oily, and notoriously resistant to cleaning products.
This has long been a topic of focus for numerous animal welfare organizations with the overabundance of stray animals contributing to the death of millions of pets each year. Although there is evidence to suggest the North American canine population is beginning to stabilize, the cat population continues to grow and dog overpopulation in the south remains a problem.
In any case, an unplanned litter of kittens or puppies is both irresponsible and expensive, especially in the event of complications which could lead you to some very expensive veterinary bills.
At the end of the day, there are really no good reasons not to spay or neuter. Not only is it better for the health of your pet, it's better for the relationship you will have over the years. If you are concerned about the cost of the procedure, contact your local humane society or SPCA. Many animal welfare organizations now offer low-cost spay and neuter clinics to help people on a budget.