With the advent of spring, many new kittens and puppies will be born, but not all these pets will have homes, severely overcrowding animal shelters, and putting a strain on limited funds for homeless pets. Roughly half the pets who enter shelters each year are euthanized because of lack of available homes, which can be prevented by spaying and neutering pets to reduce overpopulation.
As a pet owner, you naturally want what is best for your furry friend, and you’re faced with many decisions throughout your pet’s life, to ensure continued health and happiness. One key decision is whether you should spay or neuter your pet, and at what age. To help clear up any confusion with the common myths about spaying and neutering pets, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently encountered misconceptions.
Myth: Spaying or neutering my pet will cause excessive weight gain.
Fact: The only way any animal—people included—gains weight is by consuming more calories than they burn. Most pets are spayed or neutered when they reach physical maturity and usually no longer need the extra calories and fat, but many pet owners continue to feed their cat or dog the same amount they fed when she was a growing puppy or kitten, instead of cutting back once maximum physical growth is achieved. Since an adult pet does not require as many calories, they’ll naturally gain weight. To calculate the appropriate number of calories your pet needs to maintain a healthy weight at every life stage, contact us.
Myth: All female pets should have at least one litter.
Fact: Dogs and cats are not like people, and do not feel their biological clock ticking, or feel overwhelmed with a desire to experience childbirth. Spaying your pet before her first heat cycle will reduce the risk of several cancers, most notably mammary cancer. In cats, more than 85% of mammary tumors are malignant and aggressive, spreading throughout the body. In addition to reducing your pet’s risk for mammary cancer, spaying her before she has a litter eliminates problems during birthing, and health issues common in new mothers.
Myth: Neutering will make my pet feel less like a male.
Fact: Similar to attributing human emotions to female pets and childbirth, male pets do not have any concept of ego or sexual identity. By neutering your pet, you will experience a better companion, as removing the male hormones will reduce his desire to roam and find a mate. An intact male will do almost anything to find a mate, including escaping from home and risking his life in traffic, and fighting with other male animals.
Myth: Spaying and neutering can cause health problems in my pet.
Fact: Spaying or neutering your pet when they are too young can impair growth and development, particularly for giant-breed dogs, whereas appropriate-age sterilization prevents many health issues. Removing reproductive organs reduces your pet’s risk of developing some cancers, reproductive-related infections, and problem behaviors.
Myth: After being spayed or neutered, my pet will act weird.
Fact: Spaying or neutering your pet will likely cause some behavioral changes, but for the better. For example, neutering your male will limit territorial marking and fighting with other males. Spaying your female pet will eliminate heat cycles, which are often displayed with yowling, whining, howling, and needy behavior. Female cats usually go into heat for four to five days every three weeks during breeding season, and will call and urine mark all over your home to attract a mate.
Myth: Anesthesia is not safe for pets.
Fact: Performing anesthesia while your pet is young and healthy poses few risks. As your pet ages, they more likely will develop reproductive issues, such as infection or cancer, which will make spaying or neutering essential for saving their life. Anesthesia while your pet’s health is compromised can be more challenging and more stressful for your four-legged friend. During your pet’s surgery, regardless of age, we take every precaution possible to ensure a smooth, successful surgery and recovery.
Myth: Spaying or neutering my pet is an unnecessary expense.
Fact: Spaying or neutering your pet costs far less than raising an unexpected litter, emergency surgery to remove an infected uterus, or chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a reproductive cancer. Like budgeting for your puppy or kitten’s vaccination appointments, you can also budget for your pet’s spay or neuter surgery by requesting a surgical estimate from our team, and creating a savings plan.
Do you have questions about the best age to spay or neuter your pet? Call us to schedule an appointment with one of Logan County Animal Clinic’s veterinarians, to discuss the optimal time to spay or neuter your furry friend.