The Importance of Spaying/Neutering Your Pet
Drew Carey is the current host of the television game show The Price Is Right, and he ends the show with that familiar line made famous by the shows preceding host, Bob Barker “Help control the pet population, have your pets spayed or neutered.” These words are representative of his lifelong love for helping animals. It’s a love and passion shared by Dr. Christine Kato and the rest of our staff at Kato Animal Hospital. When it comes to responsible pet ownership, sometimes the best approach to your pet’s good health includes a surgical procedure.
According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, every year thousands of pets find their way to Canadian shelters because there are more pets than available homes. Spaying and neutering helps reduce the stray pet population, reducing the number of unwanted, neglected or abused animals. In Ontario alone, thousands of healthy unwanted pets are euthanized every year.
Spaying (female) or neutering (male) your puppy or kitten is a sign of responsible pet ownership and provides numerous health and behavioral benefits. The process is also called “fixing” or “sterilizing” and is a safe and common practice performed with an anesthetic.
There are many myths about the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats that have circulated among pet-owners, often indicated as the cause of “unwanted, neglected or abused animals,” including:
- Neutering will affect a pet’s personality – true: but males will be less aggressive and both males and females will be easier to manage when they are neutered; they will be more sociable and more likely to get along well with other animals and will be less likely to roam.
- Children should be given the opportunity to learn about the birthing process and to take care of young animals – maybe: but you don’t need to have puppies to teach your children about the miracle of creating life. It is a better life lesson to teach your kids to be responsible pet owners and spay or neuter their pets.
- Only females need to be spayed – false: reproduction process takes two and if your male is not neutered he can easily find an available pet or stray. You may not be directly affected but your actions will have contributed to the problem of pet overpopulation.
- Animals become fat, lazy and unhealthy when neutered – false: like people, animals become fat and lazy from overeating and lack of exercise.
- A female will benefit from having one litter - false: a litter is very time-consuming and expensive that put a female’s life at risk from complications that may arise from whelping and looking after a litter.
- There is money to be made in breeding purebreds – false: responsible breeders rarely make any money as the cost of properly caring for a pregnant female, and the ensuing litter of puppies or kittens can quickly become higher than the sale price. Roughly one quarter of pets in shelters are purebred, indicating that even purebreds are not guaranteed a home.
- Spaying before the first heat in dogs can prevent mammary tumors by almost 100%. When spaying after the first heat, the chance of mammary tumors only decreases by 7% and after the second heat it is decreased by 25%. Dogs who are unspayed are more likely to get pyometra (a uterine infection that can be life threatening).
- Male dogs will not urine mark after neutering and are much less likely to have inter-male aggression.
- Neutered dogs are much less likely to get prostate disease and will not get testicular cancer.
- Male cats will not spray urine to mark territory and the urine will not have the strong odour that male cat urine has. They will also roam less and not fight with other male cats and get abscesses from bite wounds.
- Female cats that are not spayed and not mated will get cystic ovaries and persistent heat cycles that make them behaviourally more high strung and can cause them to be thinner because of the high hormone levels.