5 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Are you thinking about welcoming a furry friend into your home? Has your life already been blessed by an animal?
No matter what your situation is, you've got at least five great reasons to add a spay or neuter appointment to your pet to-do list! This simple procedure is affordable, quick, and highly effective when it comes to preventing cats and dogs from reproducing.
Check out these surprising benefits of altering your animal.
1. Your Furry Friend Will Be Healthier
Spayed female cats and dogs have a minimal, and in some cases zero, risk of various reproductive health problems. These include:
- Uterine and ovarian cancer
- Mammary gland tumors and cancer
- Prostate and testicular cancer
- Perianal tumors
- Pyometria (uterine infection)
Overall, the risks of cancer for cats and dogs is significantly lower once these animals are altered.
2. Your Companion Will Live Longer
Want to get the most out of your dog's days or your cat's nine lives? Spay or neuter your four-legged friend—this will actually increase its lifespan! On average, altered dogs live 1 to 3 years longer, and altered cats live as much as 3 to 5 years longer. That's a lot of extra time to enjoy with your cute companion.
On the flip side, research suggests that intact and outdoor male cats live an average of 1-2 years less.
3. Your Animal Companion Will Behave Better
Unaltered pets exhibit often unpleasant and potentially dangerous behaviors associated with reproduction. This includes territorial marking, roaming and eloping, aggression, and (at least in females) excessive licking. Spaying or neutering helps control these behaviors and by removing the reproductive urge.
Many of these behaviors (such as aggression and roaming) can put your pet and your community at risk. For instance, survey data suggests the vast majority of dogs hit by cars aren't spayed or neutered.
Intact female dogs and cats also enter heat (menstruation), which understandably can be a bit of a messy problem.
4. You’ll Help Reduce Animal Homelessness
Animal overpopulation and homelessness is a serious problem in our country affecting pets and humans alike.
Every year, millions of stray and unwanted cats and dogs are sent to shelters. Many of them will never find a forever home, and too often end up getting euthanized. Spaying or neutering prevents this heartbreaking cycle from occurring.
The impact of overpopulation and homelessness imposes a heavy burden on the time, resources, and energy of shelter staff and animal rescue teams tasked with helping these helpless animals.
Recovering, impounding, vaccinating and treating, rehoming, and/or euthanizing cats and dogs costs billions of dollars every year in taxpayer and humanitarian money.
5. You’ll Save Money
The costs associated with a one-time spay or neuter procedure are far lower than the costs associated with pet pregnancy and whelping, the treatment of reproductive health problems, or the treatment of accident or illness caused by behavior-related incidents.
If you have concerns about paying for your pet's spay or neuter, ask your vet for suggestions. Many local communities have low-cost spay and neuter opportunities. It's a GREAT investment in your pet!
When Should I Spay or Neuter My Pet?
Most people choose to have their pets altered at around 6 months of age (and/or before female cats or dogs enter their first heat). But if your puppy or kitten is healthy, he or she can be altered as young as 8 weeks old.
Your vet can give you personalized insight into the right time to have your pet altered.
How Long Will it Take For my Pet to Recover From A Spay or Neuter?
During a spay or neuter procedure, your vet will put your animal under general anesthesia. This is important, because it keeps your beloved companion calm and comfortable while allowing the surgical team to do their job efficiently and safely.
During the procedure, one or a few small incisions are made in your pet's abdomen. The internal reproductive organs (the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries in females, and the testicles in males) are removed through these incisions. Then the incision is closed up, typically with sutures.
After the surgery, your vet will want your pet to stay at the hospital for at least a few hours, and maybe overnight, to monitor your pet in case of the rare event of an adverse reaction. When it's time to bring your animal home to recover—aka snuggle with you!—your vet will let you know some important things to know. This includes:
- Signs and symptoms of infection at the incision site, which you should visually inspect twice per day. Signs include abnormal bleeding, drainage redness, warmth, fever, or swelling.
- Signs and symptoms of adverse reactions to anesthesia. It's totally normal for your pet to be a bit groggy and lethargic for a day or two after surgery. But if your pet is still acting “off” a few days later, or if you ever have ANY concerns or questions, simply call your vet—that's what they're there for.
- How to keep your pet's incision clean and dry. Your animal will probably need a cone to keep her from licking or biting at the incision—this should stay on at all times, or at least whenever you cannot directly supervise your pet.
If your pet is going home with any medications, your vet will give you written and verbal instructions on how to give them.
Your pet's incisions will heal in about two weeks In the meantime, you'll need to keep your pet's activity level low (no running, jumping, rough play, unsupervised free play, off-leash walking, etc.) and refrain from bathing her (to keep the incision dry). This is to minimize the risk of complications and ensure everything heals up nicely!
How To Encourage Spaying And Neutering With Others
- Share your story! Tell your fellow pet parents your experience with spaying or neutering, and how you've seen it help your pet.
- Share helpful resources. Offer to bring home pamphlets and other educational resources from your vet. This way, your friends can learn about the many benefits of spay and neuter.
- Get involved. Consider volunteering time or resources to a local animal shelter or rescue society. The more people are aware of these great organizations, the more support they will have from the community!