What is spay and neuter?
- A spay is the surgical removal of a female animal’s reproductive organs so she cannot become pregnant.
- A neuter is the surgical removal of a male animal’s testicles so that he cannot impregnate a female.
- The surgeries are performed by a veterinarian while animals are under general anesthesia so that they do not feel any pain. An animal may experience some discomfort after the surgery, but veterinarians will provide medication to help ease the soreness.
Why it’s so important
It’s a lifesaver
Spaying or neutering pets prevents animals from being born accidentally, and is the most effective and humane way to save animals lives. Some animals in shelters are saved from the streets and cruelty, while some are given up by their families. Countless others never make it to shelters and suffer without someone to care for them. Spaying and neutering is a step forward to reduce the amount of homeless animals that often face these difficult environments.
Benefits for you and your pet
Your companion will live a longer, healthier life and you will experience fewer headaches if you get him or her neutered or spayed.
Spaying and neutering reduces or eliminates:
- The odds of breast cancer and dangerous uterine infections in females and prostate problems and testicular cancer in males.
- Frustration in resisting the natural urge to mate. Your companion will be less distracted, more easily trained, and a more contented member of your family.
- The animal’s need to roam in search of a mate
- Messy heat cycles in females and attracting unwanted males.
- The extra expense for food or veterinary care in the event of an unexpected litter of puppies or kittens.
What is the cost?
There are many low cost spay/neuter clinics. It is important to research reputable clinics for the safety of your pet. The cost of a spay or neuter surgery depends on the weight, age and gender of your pet. It is important to remember, however, that it is a small, one-time cost compared to the numerous benefits it provides, and the number of unwanted issues that it will help you and your pet avoid.
What are some myths?
Some people don’t want to spay or neuter their dog because they have picked up some mistaken ideas along the way. There are a number of myths about spaying and neutering. Here are a few of the most common, and the truth about each:
- “My pet will become fat.” Too much food and lack of exercise makes a pet fat. If you monitor food intake and provide exercise, your pets will stay trim.
- “My pet is so special I want another pet just like her.” There is no guarantee that puppies and kittens will inherit their parents’ best qualities. In fact, they may just as easily inherit the worst qualities.
- “He’s purebred so he can’t be fixed.” Purebreds and their offspring also end up homeless in shelters. Purebreds not spayed or neutered can also contribute to the problem of animal homelessness.
- Altering changes a dog’s personality.The only personality changes that result from spaying or neutering are the positive changes described above—no roaming, less tendency to mark territory, and less aggression. Aside from these changes, your dog will be no less like himself than humans are after undergoing vasectomy or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).
- “Isn’t it wrong to deprive an animal of the natural right to reproduce?” No, it’s wrong to allow these animals to reproduce millions of unwanted offspring that are eventually killed because there aren’t enough responsible homes.
- “If I find homes for my pet’s litters, then I won’t contribute to the problem, right?” Wrong. Only a finite number of people want pets. So every home you find for your pet’s offspring takes away a home from a loving animal already at a shelter.
- “Shouldn’t every female pet have at least one litter before being spayed?” No. In fact, your pet will be healthier if she never sexually matures.
- “My dog has a right to experience sex.” Sex for a dog is nothing more than the result of a powerful instinctive drive to reproduce. People who worry about this issue are usually over-identifying with their dog. This is an excuse often presented by men, who cringe at the very idea of castration—even though it is a painless surgical procedure being performed on their dog, not on them.
- “Spaying/Neutering just costs too much!” The reality is that the cost associated with providing adequate care for just one litter of puppies or kittens is often much more than the cost of spaying or neutering. The cost of caring for a pet, including providing veterinary care, should be considered before acquiring an animal. Many animal shelters offer low-cost spay/neuter services, and there are also many low-cost spay/neuter clinics across the country.