Why Spay / Neuter Your Pet?

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Spaying and neutering your pets has more benefits than just controlling the pet population, which sees millions of healthy dogs & cats euthanized in the United States each year, simply because there aren’t enough homes for them. There are also medical and behavioral benefits to spaying (female pets) and neutering (male pets) your animals.

Health Reasons to Spay / Neuter Your Pet

  • Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying prevents uterine infections (pyometra) and may help prevent breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  • Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

Behavioral benefits:

  1. Your spayed female pet won’t go into heat.
    • 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!
  2. Your male dog will be less likely to roam away from home.
    • An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house. Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other male animals.
  3. Your neutered male may be better behaved.
    • Unneutered dogs and cats are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house.
    • Your dog is less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s neutered.
    • Some aggression problems may be avoided by early neutering.

Debunking Spay/Neuter Myths and Misconceptions

Fat cat

“My dog / cat will get fat.”

The ONLY reason your pet will gain weight is because you overfeed them. There is some research that shows a slight decrease in metabolism in adult dogs and cats, neutered and spayed later in life.  However, if you spay or neuter a puppy or kitten, then you’ll never notice it.  If you see that your pet is becoming overweight at any point in their lives, cut back on their portions, and / or meal frequency.

Most pets need just one meal per day, but feeding them 2 smaller meals, twice a day is recommended, to prevent excessive stomach acid and possibly vomiting, common in pets who’ve experienced a change in diet or eat healthy pet food.

Also, while you’re cutting back their meals, why don’t you cut down on YOUR portions.  It can’t hurt.  You’ll save money & time, and increase your energy levels, while being a great example for your pet!

“It will change their personaliy.”

Neutering is not a quick fix for all behavior problems, but neutering your pet often reduces undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone.  There’s no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after he’s neutered, but the sooner you do it the less likely they are to develop undesirable habits, like marking the furniture or humping your house-guest’s leg.  And although the surgery will reduce the amount of testosterone in your dog’s system, it won’t eliminate the hormone completely.

The effects of neutering are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology, age and history.  The sooner you do it though, the better.

“It’s too expensive.”

The health benefits alone will save you big-time, in the long run.  Dogs who are spayed have NO uterine infections and fewer instances of breast tumors.  It’s best to spay before the first heat cycle.  Every litter of puppies and heat cycle increases the likelihood of cancer in your girl.

Unwanted litters. (need we say more?)

Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.  Again, the sooner you do it, the better.[/box]

When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

  • Dogs: While the traditional age for neutering is six to nine months, at DAMC, we prefer 4 to 6 months old.
    • Puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they’re healthy, but this is only normal at shelters, as they do not want to risk more unwanted pets being born.
    • Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of post-operative complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight or dogs that have health problems.
  • Cats: In an effort to avoid the start of urine spraying and eliminate the chance for pregnancy, it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your own cat reaches five months of age. It’s possible to spay a female cat while she’s in heat.
    • It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered, but this is only normal in animal shelters, so that kittens can be sterilized prior to adoption.

As every circumstance is different, talk to your veterinarian to determine the best time to spay or neuter your pet.

Helping Your Pet Before and After Surgery

Dunedin Animal Medical Center will provide pre-surgical advice. In general…

  • We recommend blood work before surgery for every pet, to identify underlying issues and potential risks.
  • We provide pain medications, before, during and after surgery.
  • You should avoid giving your pet any food after midnight the night before surgery.
  • We’ll provide post-operative instructions.

Although your pet may experience some discomfort after surgery, we can take various measures to control pain.  Pain medication will be sent home with your pet.

Here are tips for a safe and comfortable recovery:

  • Provide your pet with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other animals.
  • Prevent your pet from running and jumping for up to two weeks following surgery, or as long as your veterinarian recommends.
  • Prevent your pet from licking the incision site by using an Elizabethan collar, and leave it on until instructed to remove it by the veterinarian.
  • Avoid bathing your pet for at least ten days after surgery.
  • Check the incision site daily to confirm proper healing.
  • If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge at the surgery site, or if the incision is open, please contact us.
  • Also call us if your pet is lethargic, has a decreased appetite, is vomiting or has diarrhea or any other concerns following surgery.