SHOULD I SPAY OR NEUTER MY PET?
Spaying or neutering provides long-term health benefits to your dog or cat and helps avoid certain problematic behaviors, such as roaming or urine marking. It also helps reduce the number of unwanted pets. Female dogs go through a reproductive cycle, or “heat” every six months, usually once in the spring and again in the fall. The entire cycle may be as short as several days or as long as four weeks. During heat cycles, female dogs produce a bloody discharge and often exhibit personality changes, such as becoming short-tempered or anxious. Female cats enter their reproductive cycles every three to four weeks during certain times of the year, primarily in the spring and fall.
Many female cats become nervous during this heat cycle and exhibit unusual behaviors, such as rolling on the floor hiding furtively or begging for constant attention. They also become quite vocal meowing loudly throughout this time. After they reach sexual maturity, around six to nine months of age, many dogs and cats are able to breed anytime they are exposed to receptive females. Male cats are known to “mark” their territories by spraying odorous urine on furniture, walls and shrubs. Male dogs are equally likely to mark their territories in this manner. This behavior is greatly reduced when the pet is neutered. Neutering may also reduce aggressive behavior.
Unneutered male dogs and cats are prone to wander in search of a female in heat. This means trouble! Pets who wander are exposed to diseases more frequently, and they get injured in fights and traffic accidents much more often than pets that do not wander.
In animal shelters throughout North America, six to eight million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year. Although this figure seems staggering it is easy to understand when you consider this: if one pair of cats produces an average of eight kittens per year, and each of those kittens then produces an average of eight kittens per year, almost 300,000 cats are in the “family tree” by year six.
In year seven, the descendants of the original mother and father cat almost 2.4 million!
WHAT IS SPAYING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Spaying of female dogs and cats, called “ovariohysterectomy”, is the surgical removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. Female dogs and cats are often mature enough to reproduce once they reach the age of six months, so the surgery is suggested at no later than at 6 months of age.
Studies show that by spaying your female dog or cat before her first heat cycle, you greatly reduce her chances of developing mammary cancer later in life. Having your female dog or cat spayed will also protect her from uterine infections and difficult or dangerous pregnancies.
Spaying you pets eliminates all heat cycles and the accompanying unwanted bleeding, personality changes, and desire to mate.
WHAT IS NEUTERING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
Neutering of male dogs and cats, called “orchiectomy”, is the procedure of surgically removing the testicles. Studies show that neutered dogs are less likely to develop disease of the prostate glands. Dogs and cats who have been neutered are no longer at risk for testicular cancer or infections.
For cats, if neutering is done at an early age (six months or younger), it eliminates undesired reproductive behavior such as urine, marking and roaming. Once a male cat begins to mark his territory by spraying urine, it may become a habit that continues even after neutering.
WHEN SHOULD MY PET HAVE THE SURGERY?
Veterinarians typically recommend that a female pet be spayed before her first heat cycle, which means at about six months of age. Male dogs and cats can be neutered at six months also, but many veterinarians now perform the surgery on pets that are as young as two months. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the most appropriate timing for your pet’s surgery.