Its Hip to Snip- Why you should spay and neuter your pets
What exactly does it mean to have your pet “fixed”?
When we are talking about female dogs or cats, we say they are being spayed. This is a surgical procedure also known as an ovariohysterectomy, where both the uterus and ovaries are removed under general anesthesia. The recommended age for this procedure at our veterinary hospital is 5-6 months of age. This is done PRIOR to her first heat cycle, which prevents all exposure to the female hormones that are responsible for mammary (breast) cancer. With each heat cycle a female experiences, her risk for this cancer increases.
The term we use for males is neutering. This is a surgical procedure also known as castration, where the testicles are removed under general anesthesia. There are varied opinions on what age is best for castration, however at our hospital we recommend neutering at 5-6 months of age for small to medium breed dogs or up to 2 years of age in large to giant breed dogs. There are many reasons that the veterinarian may have owners of large and giant breed dogs neuter early, such as aggression or roaming behavior. In the cases, the benefits of early neutering outweigh the benefits of waiting to neuter. The main benefit of waiting to neuter males is that it allows the full development of the pets musculature and stature, which is heavily influenced by testosterone.
5 Myths about Spay and Neuter
#1 – My male dog won’t be a male anymore. It will turn him into a sissy. The “maleness” most people are referring to comes with a lot of negative behaviors. Such as urinating on everything to “mark”, unnecessary aggressive behaviors, and roaming to find females in heat. Male cats will fight and develop terrible infections and even can catch life threatening diseases such as Feline AIDs. Male cats kept indoors will mark and their urine has a terrible odor that is very difficult to remove from your furniture and walls. With very few exceptions, castration is the best thing to do for male pets. The other thing is it removes any chance of testicular cancer.
#2- My female dog should experience birth before she is spayed. OR I want my children to learn about the miracle of birth from my pet. Visit a local humane shelter, and you will see puppies who were born and never found homes. The hard truth is that many of these puppies don’t ever find homes and are euthanized because of overcrowding. More puppies and kittens do not help this problem. There are plenty of other ways to teach children about reproduction and with YouTube, there are plenty of videos of puppies being born. I have worked in shelters and have seen some horrible things happen. Not because the shelters are inadequate, but because the people in the county did not spay and neuter their pets.
#3- I have the perfect dog and I would love to have one of their puppies. Having puppies is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. Fully vaccinating and parasite testing puppies can run approximately $350 each*. Most people are not aware of all that is involved and they do not think about all that can go wrong. Dogs do not always have easy deliveries in which the pups are born without assistance. Sometimes, the dog requires a C section to deliver pups and at that point the babies can die in the process and it’s not as great as you thought it would be. Not to mention you have now spent a lot of money bringing these babies into the world.
#4- I don’t have a male dog and my female never goes outside without me, so she doesn’t need to be fixed. I mentioned mammary or breast cancer already, however there are life threatening diseases that can occur in dogs and cats that are not spayed as they age. The one I see the most is called pyometra, which means pus-filled uterus. It is life threatening and develops quickly usually several weeks after a heat cycle when the hormones are shifting. The signs are vague at first the become severe- these include lethargy, inappetance, increased thirst, and sometimes, vaginal discharge depending on whether the cervix is opened or closed. The treatment is emergency spay with aggressive fluids and antibiotics. If the uterus ruptures and the infection spreads throughout the abdomen, the survival rates drop drastically.
#5- I cannot afford to have my pets fixed. There are many ways to get your pets spayed and neutered for a reasonable price. One thing you can do is adopt a pet from a local humane shelter that has already been spayed or neutered! There are non profit spay/neuter clinics in many cities, which receive grants and donations to help keep costs very low. Also, many veterinarians offer special pricing at certain times to help make this procedure more affordable. Our veterinary hospital offers 25% off spays and neuters once each month! The cost of this procedure is going to be a lot less than if something bad happens, such as pyometra or dog fight wounds. Those veterinary bills are going to be a whole LOT more.
Please, please, please Spay and Neuter your pets!
Wag More, Bark Less,