You love your cat or dog, and their health care is important to you to help them live a long, happy life. Nothing is more critical for your pet’s overall health and well-being than preventive care, which includes regular physical exams, screening tests, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and spaying or neutering. Although you may be concerned about your pet being spayed or neutered, rest assured these procedures can lengthen their life by providing numerous health benefits. Here are five reasons why our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team recommends spaying or neutering your pet.
#1: Spaying or neutering your pet can prevent life-threatening illnesses
An intact pet can do more than reproduce—they can also develop life-threatening illnesses that attack their reproductive tract. In female pets, the most common illness is pyometra (i.e., infection of the uterus). This potentially deadly condition generally occurs about a month after a pet’s heat cycle, causing the uterus to fill with pus. If your pet survives a pyometra, and the uterus is not removed, they will likely develop this condition again, with a potentially less favorable outcome.
Male pets can develop testicular and prostatic diseases, with abscesses the most common. Prostatic abscesses can be difficult to treat through antimicrobial therapy alone, making neutering essential for a complete cure. Male pets can also suffer from testicular torsions, prostatic cysts, and other painful infections and abnormalities that can greatly impair their health.
#2: Spaying or neutering your pet can reduce or eliminate cancer risk
Several serious reproductive cancers can prove fatal if your pet remains intact. But, by removing reproductive organs at the appropriate time, you can greatly reduce or eliminate their risk for these cancers. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, spaying your female pet before their first heat cycle can reduce their mammary cancer risk. Cats spayed before 6 months of age have a seven-times reduced risk of mammary cancer development, and when spayed at any age, have a 40% to 60% reduction in mammary tumor risk. A dog’s risk for developing a mammary tumor is 0.5% if spayed before their first heat, 8% after their first heat, and 26% after their second heat.
#3: Spaying or neutering your pet can help manage problem behaviors
Does your male dog dig under the fence when the neighbor’s female dog is in heat? Does your female cat keep you up all night with her caterwauling? These behaviors can be annoying, obnoxious, and also dangerous, but can be greatly reduced or eliminated by spaying or neutering your pet. By removing the hormonal urges that drive these behaviors, you can potentially eliminate the following:
- Urine marking
- Territorial aggression
- Excessive vocalization when in heat
- Reduced anxiety around pets of the opposite sex
Keep in mind that spaying or neutering is not a magic cure-all for your pet’s behavior problems. A spay or neuter removes the hormonal drive behind the behavior, but additional training following the surgery is likely needed to teach your pet good manners.
#4: Spaying or neutering your pet reduces pet overpopulation issues
The United States still has a pet overpopulation problem, and many homeless cats and dogs end up in animal shelters and rescues without families for months or years. With so many pets still needing homes, it’s up to pet owners to help control this homeless population by spaying and neutering their cats and dogs.
#5: Spaying or neutering your pet prevents birthing difficulties
Watching your pet give birth is a miraculous experience that can quickly go horribly wrong. Many pets struggle to give birth naturally, and require emergency surgery to help remove stuck puppies or kittens. Some pets may develop a prolapsed uterus, uterine tear, mastitis, or countless other issues associated with pregnancy and delivery. Occasionally, pets die during birth, or the puppies or kittens are stillborn, or born with congenital defects. Breeding cats or dogs is no easy process, and can cause a great deal of heartache.