Deciding to spay or neuter your dog or cat is one of the many important decisions you’ll face as a pet parent. As the first surgery for many pets, a spay/neuter procedure can have a big impact on the behavioral, physical and emotional wellbeing of your fur-baby, setting them up for a long and healthy life.
If you’re on the fence about the decision to spay or neuter, we are here to help. Call our expert veterinary team at 508-588-5661 anytime. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits and some of the common myths surrounding this surgery.
Benefits of Spaying & Neutering Your Pet
1. Your pet is more likely to live a longer, happier life.
Pets are less susceptible to disease and illness once they are altered (spayed/neutered). For female pets, spaying eliminates the risk of uterine infections and ovarian cancer and significantly lowers the risk of breast cancer, which is fatal in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats.
For male pets, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular tumors and significantly lowers the risk for prostate issues, hernias, and perianal tumors. As neutered males tend to be less combative with other males, they also have a lower risk of disease transmission through bites.
2. Neutering your male pet makes for a more relaxed, happier family pet.
Altered dogs and cats are often more relaxed, and have a lower impulse to roam far from home. Pets who are intact (unaltered) can feel stress due to heat cycles (for females) or built-up testosterone (for males), as the instinct to find a mate becomes a strong drive. Most pets feel calmer and happier once they are altered.
Neutering male dogs and cats usually reduces the behavior of frequently marking (urinating) around the house and property, as they will no longer need to express pheromones after surgery is completed. Males neutered at a young age also tend to be less aggressive toward other males. Unneutered male dogs and cats are easily distracted by females in heat and can exhibit obsessive behaviors.
3. Spaying results in a happier female pet and cleaner home environment.
An unaltered female dog will be in estrous (have her period) for around 10 days, roughly twice a year. If unaltered, females will become irritable and experience mood changes as well as physical stress to the body. A prominent feature of the cycle is a bloody fluid, which must be consistently cleaned if you wish to avoid stains on your carpet and furniture!
An unaltered female cat has their first estrous cycle around five or six months old, and it can last anywhere from 1 to 21 days (typically one week). Cats are polyestrous and will experience multiple cycles during their breeding season from January until the fall. Cats will generally appear vocal and extra affectionate during this time. Female cats do experience bloody fluid, though it’s not as common as it is in female dogs. Female cats may mark their territory with urine.
Keeping your home clean and safe for your pet will affect not only your comfort level, but theirs, too. Having to keep up with constant cycles of heat can be a stressor on both you and your fur-baby. Spaying your female pet will make your home cleaner and your fur-baby more comfortable.
4. Spaying and neutering animals prevents overpopulation.
According to North Shore Animal League America, there are an estimated 70,000 kittens and puppies born in the US each day. That’s over 27 million per year. Most of these animals unfortunately end up in shelters for long periods of time, or are euthanized due to overpopulation once shelters are full.
Spay and neuter surgeries prevent animals from having unintended litters, which in turn reduces homelessness in pets by decreasing overpopulation. By getting your dog or cat altered, you are actively helping to combat animal homelessness and ease the burden on shelters and rescues.
Myths About Spaying and Neutering Pets
1. My pet will become fat and lazy.
A spay or neuter surgery won’t make your pet gain weight or lose energy. When pets become overweight and lethargic, it’s most commonly caused by an unbalanced diet and lack of exercise. Exercise is just as important for our pets as it is for us, both in physical and mental capacities.
Keep your fur-baby active with enrichment toys (like puzzles and snuffle mats), walks, and playtime. For cats, you can mimic their natural instincts to hunt and hide with DIY cat toys to reduce boredom and exercise their mind and body.
To give your dog some exercise and healthy socialization, check out our flagship program, PLAYtrainⓇ Doggie Daycare. We also offer Health4PETS® Extras for pets visiting with us, including Nature Walks for dogs and Personal Playtime for cats, where a member of our team will spend one-on-one time with your fur-baby and make sure they’re staying active.
2. My pet’s personality will change.
This one’s not entirely a myth—your pet’s behaviors may change a bit after spay or neuter surgery, but for the better! Due to the change in hormone levels, unwanted behaviors caused by heightened pheromones will be reduced post-surgery, but your pup or kitty will still be their same lovable self. That means less marking (urinating), yowling, mood swings, combative behaviors, and a lower drive to wander from home.
3. We want another pet just like our fur-baby!
Adding another fur-baby to the family can be a great idea, but there’s no guarantee that the offspring of your pet will behave like, or even look similar to, their parents. Animals are unique beings with their own personalities. While some traits are genetic, a cat or dog’s temperament is not predetermined to match that of its parent.
If you are ready for another pet, we recommend you get in contact with a reputable breeder or rescue to find a pet that’s a great fit for your family, and a good personality match for your current fur-baby.
4. I want my family to witness an animal birth.
It’s wonderful that you want to share the miracle of animal birth with your family! However, it’s important to consider the conditions under which the mother is giving birth. Cat and dog mamas prefer privacy when giving birth, and having an audience will cause their anxiety to rise. A quiet space with little interference is best. There are plenty of other ways to educate your children on animal birth, such as speaking with a veterinarian, or researching online or at a library.
5. We want to make a profit by selling puppies or kittens.
Selling a litter is expensive. Usually, the cost of formula, food, cleaning supplies, and bedding outweighs the potential profit. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for the cost of increased medical care for the mother during pregnancy, as well as the care of the babies for at least 8 weeks (or longer) after they’re born. Expenses such as vaccinations, appointments, additional food, medical treatment, and the time commitment to care for newborn animals are all-consuming requirements.
6. I do not want my pet to undergo anesthesia.
We understand the trepidation surrounding your pet undergoing a surgery. Rest assured, anesthetics are safe and the benefits far outweigh the minor risks. At JM Pet Vet Clinic, we require pre-surgical blood screens to detect any pre-existing conditions or risks before performing any surgical procedure. Our experienced veterinary surgeons, vet techs, and medical staff are here to answer any questions you have before a procedure.
Spay/Neuter is an Investment in Your Pet’s Health
The cost of a spay or neuter surgery is a significant investment in your pet’s health and longevity. Whether this surgery is the first big procedure for your new fur-baby, or your pet is a bit older, it’s always important to consider the best option for your pet’s health and longevity. Keep in mind, this is an extremely common medical procedure, and veterinarians perform this surgery frequently, so they are quite familiar with the process.
Questions? Call our veterinary team at JM Pet Vet Clinic at 508-588-5661. We’ll be happy to discuss the procedure, recovery time, and any questions you have.