What is spaying and and what is neutering?
A spay is a surgical procedure where a veterinary surgeon removes the reproductive organs of a female dog or cat so that she cannot become pregnant, and a neuter is the surgical removal of a male animal’s testicles so that he cannot impregnate a female. The decision to spay or neuter your dog or cat is an important decision, and unless you intend to breed your pet, there are many reasons why spay and neuter are recommended. Several reasons are listed below.
A reduced urge to roam
Spaying and neutering decrease the chance that your pet will wander away from home in search of a mate, and it will reduce the chances that your pet will become lost, get hit by a car, or get into a fight with other dogs and cats. Also, spayed and neutered pets tend to be more attached to their human caretakers, and are less likely to seek animal friends outside of the home.
A reduction in pet homelessness
Animal shelters across the United States house thousands of animals who have been abandoned or homeless. Nationwide, 2.7 million adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year because they are homeless or abandoned (1). Spaying and neutering is the only permanent solution to this.
A reduction in marking or spraying
Another benefit of spaying and neutering is that it helps decrease the urge to mark and spray, especially in males. Intact male dogs tend to be more prone to urine-marking inside and outside the home, but luckily, this behavior can be improved by neutering. Intact male cats are more prone to spraying and marking their territory as a signal to other cats, and the smell of cat urine is particularly strong and difficult to get rid of, especially if your cat likes to mark furniture, walls, and flooring. Also, neutering your cat can solve 90% of all marking issues, even if your cat is an older adult.
A reduction in behavioral problems
As mentioned above, unaltered dogs and cats tend to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house, and this instinctual behavior can be changed with neutering since neutered pets focus their attention on their human families, rather than on competing with other animals. Spaying and neutering at an earlier age may also help avoid aggression problems and embarrassing behaviors including inappropriate urination on bedding and clothing, as well as mounting furniture and the legs of visiting guests.
A reduction in certain types of cancers
One of the other benefits of spaying dogs and cats is that it can help prevent the development of mammary and uterine cancers later in life. Studies have shown that in unspayed female dogs, the risk of developing mammary and uterine cancer increases with age, and the statistics are the same in cats (2). In unaltered dogs, the chances of prostate cancer increase with age as well, since the prostate gland naturally enlarges over time. This is known as benign prostate hyperplasia, where testosterone production predisposes the prostate gland to infection and inflammation. An enlarged and infected prostate can be very painful and sometimes can be life-threatening for your dog. Testicular cancer, prostate cancer, inguinal hernias, and perianal tumors are also more common in intact male dogs. Unneutered cats can also develop prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer as well, and surgery and chemotherapy for such cancers can be expensive and can take a heavy toll on your pet’s quality of life.
Spaying and neutering keeps other pets and the community safe
Spaying and neutering also reduce the spread of rabies and other infectious diseases by decreasing the number of stray animals that roam about. It also helps prevent putting your pet at risk of contracting infectious diseases from other animals and wildlife. Stray animals typically don’t receive regular care or vaccinations, leaving them vulnerable to contagious diseases.
A reduction in overpopulation
Every year, hundreds of thousands of pets end up homeless in U.S. shelters, and unfortunately, there are not enough homes to place them all. Some pets that end up in shelters are foundlings from the streets, rescues or surrenders, and many perfectly adoptable pets sadly never make it to shelters, and never find good homes. Spaying and neutering pets prevent animals from being born accidentally and are the most effective and humane ways to reduce overpopulation in our communities and to prevent the euthanasia of animals who are not adopted.
No heat cycles
Spaying female dogs and cats also eliminate the inconvenience and mess of heat cycles. Intact female dogs come into heat about every eight months, resulting in bloody vaginal discharge and an unpleasant odor. Female felines usually go into heat for four to five days every three weeks during the breeding season, and during their heat cycles, they tend to yowl, looking for mates, and urinate more frequently, sometimes inappropriately. This can cause more messy clean-up for the pet owner.
Pets who are spayed and neutered live longer than unaltered pets. According to one report (1), neutered male dogs live 18% longer than intact male dogs, and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than intact female dogs. The study suggested that part of the reduced lifespan of unaltered dogs and cats is because of the tendency to roam, exposing them to predators, and getting stuck by cars.
Spaying and neutering is cost-effective
Spaying and neutering your pet costs you less in the long-run. Many cities and communities have low-cost spay/neuter services that include vaccines and microchips. As mentioned above, many unaltered pets are at risk of certain cancers, and unspayed female dogs and cats can be susceptible to a medical emergency called a “pyometra,” an infection of the uterus which can make your pet very ill and can cause septicemia and death if not treated. The costs of treating a pyometra can be ten times more than a spay procedure. The treatment for prostate cancer in unaltered males can also be costly, especially when looking at surgery, and chemotherapy. Also, unaltered males can be more destructive and more high-strung around other dogs, especially males, and an emergency room visit after a dog fight can be expensive. Finally, many communities and counties require licenses for all pets, and they may charge you extra to keep an unaltered pet.
Unless you plan on breeding your pets, spaying, and neutering is always a good idea, and you can always contact your veterinarian in Chandler for more information and recommendations.