February is Spay and Neuter month and there are so many positive reasons why you should spay or neuter your pet. As a shelter vet, I see firsthand the negative effects of so many intact animals in this world that it makes me angry sometimes. Any time I see an intact pet, I want to run down the street and yell “I’ll neuter your dog for you!”. To prevent embarrassment, I don’t do that. However, I will take every opportunity that the shelter gives me to educate those willing to listen.
Everyone wants to keep their pets in good health and one of the first things you can do is to make sure they are spayed and neutered. For males, the health benefits include eliminating the risk of testicular cancer and decreasing the risk of prostate issues such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate infections. There are also studies that show that neutering decreases the risk of anal gland issues. For females, a spay eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer and infections. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer to almost zero.
There are multiple behavioral benefits as well. Neutering a male dog earlier in life helps prevent hormone related behaviors such as urine marking, aggression towards other dogs, territorial aggression and escaping activity. You may think that your dog would never leave the back yard but if they smell another female dog in heat a couple blocks down, they will not think twice about jumping the fence and going out to find her. Females can also show behavioral changes during their cycle such as marking, roaming and aggression. The urge to procreate is powerful and can make any loving pet’s temperament unpredictable.
For the feline, the health benefits are identical to those of dogs. The behavioral benefits are also very similar. Neutering a male cat will reduce urine spraying and the very pungent odor that comes with intact male urine. Spaying a female cat will also help you get better sleep at night. When a female cat is in heat, they will howl during the night like they do in those old cartoons where the alley cats are sitting on the fence, meowing loudly at the moon and the old cartoony guy opens up the window and throws the shoe at them. For those of you that do not know what I am talking about then google Sylvester the Cat sings. It is like that but with less rhythm.
The most important reason of all is to reduce pet overpopulation. Thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized EVERY DAY because there are just not enough homes for all of them. Everybody needs to do their part to prevent these senseless deaths and making sure that more puppies and kittens are not being accidentally produced is number one! Most people just don’t understand that all it takes is one jump over the fence or someone accidentally leaving a gate open for them to want to go out and roam and find a girlfriend.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this important topic and I will hope that you will share the information that you have gained to save another pet.
Dr. Kathryn Heigel-Meyer