Despite what you might believe or have heard – IT IS IMPORTANT to spay and neuter your pets.
There are quite a few reasons why this is true. First and foremost there are the obvious health reasons that one should consider. Neutered dogs live an average of 18% longer than un-neutered dogs. Spayed dogs lives 23% longer than un-spayed dogs. The reduced lifespan for these unaltered pets often has to do with an increased urge in unfixed animals to roam. This leads to increased likelihood of being struck by cars, fighting with other animals and a wealth of other potential mishaps.
Another major factor is the decreased risk of certain types of cancers. Female cats and dogs who are unspayed run a greater chance of developing uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system, as well as pyrometra, a potentially fatal uterine infection.
Male cats and dogs who are not neutered have a greater chance of getting testicular cancer and it’s believed they have higher rates of prostate cancer as well.
The most absurd justification for choosing to not neuter male dogs is the owner’s concern that their male dog will feel less “masculine” if neutered. Animals do not have any concept of sexual identity or ego. These are human constructs. Neutered male dogs do not feel lesser than their un-neutered counterparts. They are, however, less assertive and less prone to “marking” than unneutered dogs. Would you prefer your pet urinate everywhere that he smells another dog’s scent? Fixing animals solves 90% of marking issues — even in cats that have been doing it for a while. In cats it can also minimize howling, fighting with other males, and the urge to roam.
While getting your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personality. Their protective instinct, for example, will remain intact.
Beyond the health concerns there is the matter of homeless animals. The United States is overrun with them. There are estimated to be anywhere from 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. Less than half of these animals are adopted — the rest of them are euthanized. These are healthy and lovable pets who are put to sleep primarily because of a lack of resources. These are not all “street” animals. Many of these pets are puppies/kittens (some even purebreds) who have been abandoned or lost. Healthy and loving pets that simply do not have homes.
I’m amazed that many people are completely unaware that more than 2.7 million healthy and adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year. I have known about this since I was a pre-teen and considered it to be common knowledge. Still, again and again, I find myself explaining this fact to people only to be met with wide-eyed surprise. Few seem to be aware just how big of a problem this is. Even people who do not intend to breed their pets often don’t consider the possibility that their pet could be lost at some point. Suppose your male or female dog/cat got loose and came across another unfixed dog or cat in the wild. Their interaction could very easily result in a litter of unwanted pets. It happens every day and it’s a big part of why shelters are overrun with unwanted animals.
Believe it or not it is also more cost-effective to care for a spayed or neutered animal. When weighed against the potential medical costs that are common in unfixed pets, spaying and neutering procedures are far less expensive in the long-run. Do you know how expensive it is to treat a dog or cat with cancer? Even the cost of a renewing a pet license is cheaper for fixed animals. The reality is that it’s just less expensive to have your pet fixed.
If you’re still not sure this is the best thing you can do for your pet you should discuss this with one of our amazing veterinarians who can discuss all of the options and help you to make an informed decision about your pet and his or her health.