Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet
By Dr. Ahmed Mutalib
Post Date: 05/25/2012
An average of 7 million dogs and cats are tragically euthanized at humane organizations every year in the United States. These are healthy and sweet pets which would have made great companions. Some are progeny of homeless pets but the majority, (about 60%), are unplanned puppies and kittens of cherished family pets because owners did not know the pet was in heat (estrus). Some pets are silent in their heat and do not show noticeable external signs. Some owners are unaware that pets experience their first heat around 6 months of age. Others are unaware that female dogs may cycle twice each year and that female cats are seasonally polyestrous. Many people believe that their pet’s puppies or kittens will never become homeless shelter animals. But the reality is that every time a dog finds his way under the fence to visit the neighbor’s female dog, or the indoor/outdoor cat comes back home pregnant again, the result is a litter of dogs or cats.
Spaying involves removing the ovaries and uterus eliminating the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancer it also significantly reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Mammary gland cancer is the most common neoplasm of female dogs and cats. Overall, female cats and dogs are about seven times more likely to develop mammary gland cancer if they are not spayed before their first heat cycle. Female dogs that have been spayed before their first heat are 99.5% LESS likely to devolop mammary tumors than intact females. If allowed to go through one or more heat periods before spaying, the risk of getting mammary cancer becomes gradually higher. Spaying also eliminates pyometra, a very serious and often fatal infection of the uterus. Up to 25% of intact female dogs and cats can develop pyometra between 4 and 10 years of age. Spaying also eliminates false pregnancies which can occur in more than 50% of intact female dogs. Spayed females will never experience “heat” periods.
Neutering involves removing the testicles thus eliminating testicular cancer. Neutered male dogs and cats are less likely to roam and get into fights. Behaviors such as mounting, urine spraying, and some forms of male aggression to females in estrus can also be reduced or eliminated when neutered early.
Although male pets become sexually active at an early age, both sexes become sexually mature at approximately 6 months of age. It is widely accepted now to fix pets prior to this age. Early age spay/neuter between 2 and 4 months of age has been performed for decades in the USA especially by shelters who embrace the procedure before adoption in their efforts to help curb pet overpopulation. The American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association support this concept.
Progress in anesthesia research has blessed our profession with several incredible and safe anesthetic agents. Pets younger than 6 months amazingly tolerate anesthesia and are marvelously resilient to the surgical procedure with lesser complications than older pets. Other advantages include minimal bleeding, less handling of tissue and trauma, fewer drugs, less stitching, and shorter surgery and anesthesia time. Pets also recover rapidly from anesthesia with near zero complications and they heal faster. Sterilized pets typically live longer and healthier lives. Guardians of spayed and neutered dogs usually pay a lower dog license fee each year.
Spaying/neutering is a win-win situation to all involved parties; the clients, pets, veterinarians, shelters, rescue groups, foster caregivers, and the community. A spayed/neutered animal will never add to the overpopulation problem, saving the destruction of innocent lives.
Spayed/neutered pets will not become fat and lazy after surgery as commonly misconceived. Obesity is a multifactorial problem and excessive calorie intake is a major factor involved. Weight gain can be controlled with proper feeding and exercise. Personality or intelligence will not be affected by the procedures either and there is no advantage in allowing your female dog or cat to have a litter before getting fixed.
By spaying and neutering your pet, you can become an important part of the solution. In my hospital we recommend that you spay/neuter before 6 months of age. To help prevent the needless tragedy of euthanasia and the destruction of puppies and kittens, we have significantly lowered our prices for these procedures. We look forward to assisting you in one of the best decisions you can make for your pet and community.
Dr. A. Mutalib,
Townsgate Pet Hospital
2806 Townsgate Road Suite C
Westlake Village, CA 91361