Pretty much everyone knows that dogs and cats should be spayed or neutered to help control the pet population, but what about all those other reasons? Believe it or not, the prevention of breeding is not the only reason to have your pet altered. And, believe it or not, many of those old wives tales or myths about spaying and neutered are false! Read on and you’ll learn more.
Ok, so to get it out of the way we’ll start with the pet population. True, having your pet spayed or neutered helps control the pet population by reducing the number of unwanted dogs and cats, strays and in shelters, across the country. But there is one myth that often comes up that thousands of people believe to be true. These people realize the importance of alteration for the control of the number of animals but they also, for some reason, believe in this misconception:
My dog (or cat) will feel more natural or satisfied if she is allowed to have one litter first.
This is simply wrong. There are a couple of ways to think about this. First of all, put yourself in the dog’s shoes, or paws for that matter. Would you want someone to force you to breed with some other dog that you most likely do not know only to later be constantly drained of energy from providing for unborn puppies? When the puppies are born you’re pushed to raise multiple puppies, puppies that nurse and have teeth, puppies that need constant care and attention. It doesn’t sound like fun to me!
Another way to look at it is from the health standpoint. Studies show that female dogs and cats who are allowed to have a litter prior to being altered are at a higher risk for developing certain cancers later on in life. Now, it just seems easier to go ahead and have the pet spayed at a young age rather than dealing with heartbreaking and expensive health problems when she gets older.
Spaying or neutering will make my dog (or cat) fat!
Again, wrong! The procedure itself does, in no way, make a pet gain weight. In order to understand this, you first have to fully understand what a spay or neuter is.
A spay or neuter is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs. A dog or cat goes into the veterinary clinic with certain organs within its body; he or she leaves without them. What happens after the surgery is that the amount of energy your dog or cat needs is reduced. As his or her metabolism slows down, you might see some weight gain if you don’t pay close attention to the diet you feed your pet.
So, spaying or neutering does not make a dog or cat fat. Overfeeding makes a pet fat!
Females should be allowed one heat cycle before being spayed.
Again, this is a health concern. I cannot for the life of me think of why a person would want to willingly deal with a female in heat and plan on spaying her afterwards. Female cats moan and cry and act in a manner that is so beyond their natural manner. Female dogs need constant attention to be sure they do not unwillingly mate with male dogs. Male dogs will climb fences, dig and do whatever they have to if they smell a female in heat from miles away. It can be next to impossible to prevent this without a constant eye on the female. Not to mention the mess from bleeding that occurs while she’s in heat.
Once more, studies show that females who are spayed at a young age prior to their first heat cycle are at a less risk for developing problems later in life such as mammary tumors and other cancers. Females who are not spayed at all are at risk for a condition known as pyometra, which is an infection in the uterus that can be very expensive to treat and even deadly.
Spaying and neutering is expensive.
There are several ways to look at this one as well. First of all, there are many options for assistance with pet care financially. There are credit programs that have been made available that most veterinarians accept. Some pet hospitals have payment plans. There are also low cost spay/neuter clinics across the country. Another option is pet insurance, which covers part or all of the procedure.
Secondly, compare the price of the surgery to that of what it might cost later on if you don’t have the procedure done. What if your dog mistakenly is bred? You’ll have the costs of raising a litter of puppies or a higher cost for having a surgery done to abort them. If you choose to let the dog or cat have the pups or kittens, then you’ve got to prepare for complications. Cesarean sections are very expensive and can be complicated when problems arise.
If you choose not to have your pet altered, you’ll have higher vet bills later on to treat pyometra, mammary tumors and ovarian cancers in females. Intact males are at a higher risk for prostate problems and cancers.
In the end, you actually will end up getting off cheaper by having the surgery done while the dog or cat is young.
The surgery will change my pet’s personality.
This one, I have to give just some credit too, although just a shred. Granted, neutering a dog helps prevent aggression. Personally I see this as a benefit, however, which is why I’m explaining it here.
Behaviors such as roaming and running away are reduced; urine spraying, biting and dominance are also diminished.
Spaying and neutering has many benefits in addition to helping control the pet population. Any questions should always be directed towards your own veterinarian to determine the best care for your particular pet. Myths, misconceptions, misunderstandings and false impressions of this procedure are often blown out of proportion and most are just plain incorrect.
So far, in all my years working with animals I’ve yet to hear or learn of a single reason that a pet should not be spayed or neutered. Many breeders raise and sell dogs and cats for the benefit of the breed. Good breeders are experienced in what they do and are prepared for complications. Breeding your own pet simply so she can have her first litter, so your kids can learn to understand the miracles of life or because you want to make a little quick cash simply are not good enough reasons to risk the health of the pet. Put the pet first and do what’s best for him or her.