As Bob Barker famously said, “Control the pet population – have your pets spayed or neutered.”
Great advice. Cats and dogs reproduce at a far greater rate than humans. Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 508 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 4,948 kittens!
“Neutering” comes from the Latin word for ‘neither sex’, and simply means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organs. It’s actually gender neutral, and can be used for both male and female procedures though it is more commonly used for males since female neutering has its own word – Spaying is when a veterinarian removes the ovaries of a female animal, effectively sterilizing the pet as a method of birth control.
In the United States alone there are 6-8 million of unwanted animals entering the shelters each year. Sadly, only about half get adopted, and the rest are euthanized. Spaying and neutering help to reduce these populations – at least until there are good homes for all of them (fingers crossed). But did you know that there were other benefits of neutering your pet?
Benefits of Neutering and Spaying
No heat cycles
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! Also, no “periods”. Female dogs go in heat every six months. As part of their estrous cycles, they pass bloody fluid for about 10 days.
Improves aggressive and territorial behavior
Let’s take a moment to think about all the dumb things you may or may not have done in pursuit of the opposite sex… Intact males will do just about anything to find a mate, including roaming, spraying, fighting and humping just about anything when the mood strikes.
According to an AVMA report, unaltered males account for as much as:
- 85% of dogs hit by cars.
- 80% of the dogs presented to veterinary behaviorists for cases of dominance aggression.
- 75% of reported dog bite incidents
Testosterone, the hormone that makes males act like… well, males, is largely produced in the testicles. When your male pet is neutered it reduces the amount of testosterone in the body, which can reduce his need for dominance, aggression and asserting his territory. On this flip side, even if your pet isn’t aggressive himself, being unneutered makes him more of a target for other unneutered males who might see him as a potential rival (It’s a pheromone thing).
Male cats are especially aggressive with other males, and fighting (along with breeding) is one of the most common ways cats become infected with Feline Leukemia and Feline Immune Virus.
Which leads me to…
Reduce or eliminate risk of certain cancers and diseases
Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats.
Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Enlarged prostate, which causes difficulty with urination or bowel movements, occurs in more than 80% of unneutered male dogs past the age of five.
But, perhaps, the number 1 reason to spay and neuter your pets is…
Helps dogs and cats to live longer, healthier lives
Altered dogs will live an average of 1 to 3 years longer than unaltered ones, while felines can live an additional 3 to 5 years. And that’s something that every pet parent will love.
There’s a lot of myths about neutering your pets. Let’s take a moment to set the record straight.
Neutered dogs are not ‘defective’
In fact the opposite is true. Once they aren’t constantly distracted by their “urges,” they become more attentive on you. Neutered dogs can make excellent hunting dogs, cattle dogs, guard dogs, police dogs and family dogs.
Neutering doesn’t make your pet fat
It’s food and lack of exercise that does that, whether or not your pet is sterilized.
Your kids don’t need to watch your pet to learn about the ‘miracle of birth.’
It’s irresponsible. Bringing more animals into a world that is already short of homes means that more animals in animal shelters will die.
Try YouTube instead.
Neutering actually saves you money.
Yes, neutering is a surgery, which makes it sound expensive. But, in fact, many spay and neuter clinics provide ultra-low cost surgery. If you adopt your pet from the shelter it’s often worked into the adoption fee, so you don’t even realize it.
Plus, when you factor in the avoided costs of those various health problems, vaccinating any unexpected litters, and any vet bills from fights or running away… you really come out on top!