There are a number of reasons to have your cat or dog spayed or neutered besides preventing unwanted births. Today, our North Boulder vets share some of the benefits of having your pet spayed or neutered and at what age you should take them in for the procedure.
What are spaying and neutering?
When we talk about getting an animal 'fixed' we are using a generic term for the surgical spaying and neutering of a pet. Spaying is the sterilization of female animals by removing their reproductive organs. Neutering is the sterilization of male animals by removing the testes.
Why should I get my cat fixed?
Pet parents may feel reluctant to have their cat spayed or neutered, especially if they intend for their cat to remain indoors full-time. Nonetheless, there are some very good reasons why our vets believe that both indoor and outdoor cats should be spayed or neutered:
- Protect your cat's health - Spaying a female cat, especially before the first heat, helps prevent uterine infections, uterine cancers, and breast cancer. Neutering male cats eliminate the chances of testicular cancer and lower the risk of prostate problems. Overall, cats that are spayed or neutered tend to live longer, healthier lives.
- Enjoy a more behaved cat - Spayed or neutered cats are better behaved. They will be less likely to roam, yowl, wail, bite, display aggressive behavior, or spray or mark their territory. In particular, male cats that have not been neutered will do just about anything to find a mate - including escaping from your home. This puts them at risk of injury or fighting with other male cats. Roaming can also expose your cat to dangerous diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
- Fight overpopulation - Millions of healthy cats are euthanized in the U.S. each year because there aren't enough homes available. Spaying and neutering can help control the pet overpopulation crisis and reduce the number of strays, which end up in shelters instead of loving homes. Unfortunately, many end up homeless and are left to fend for themselves.
- More cost-effective - The long-term costs you could incur by not spaying or neutering your feline friend can be excessive. Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be quite costly, as is caring for a new litter of kittens. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive and may engage in serious fights with neighborhood strays, often requiring pricey treatments.
- Your cat will be happier to stay home - One of the reasons neutered male cats live so much longer is that they are less likely to wander away from home and fight with other male cats. Neutering stops the production of testosterone. This hormone leads to more aggressive behavior.
Why should I get my dog fixed?
Having your pup spayed or neutered is an important part of caring for their overall health and wellbeing. Below are just a few reasons why you should spay or neuter your dog:
- Population control - According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year across the USA. Spaying or neutering your dog is the best way for you to help reduce the overall number of unplanned puppies each year while improving your pet's behavior and reducing their risk of some serious health conditions.
- Prevent disease - Neutering helps to prevent male dogs from developing testicular cancer and helps to prevent serious health problems from affecting your female dog such as pyometra, (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection), and mammary cancer.
- Curb unwanted behaviors - Spaying or neutering your dog can also help reduce a number of undesirable behaviors such as dog aggression, roaming and straying, and humping or mounting.
- Save money - Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be quite costly, as is caring for a dog throughout pregnancy and caring for puppies. Not only that, unaltered pets can be more destructive indoors and in your yard and may engage in serious fights with neighborhood strays, often requiring trips to the emergency vet.
- Your dog will be more contented to stay home - Male dogs that have not been neutered are very likely to try to escape on a regular basis to go in search of female dogs that are in heat. Unaccompanied roaming can lead to an increased risk of being hit by a car or becoming lost or stolen. Having your dog neutered can help them to feel more contented to be at home with you.
When Should I Get My Pet Spayed or Neutered?
There are a number of factors that can influence the timing of these procedures. Below is a suggested timeline but always speak to your vet to see what they recommend.
- Cats should be spayed or neutered before they are 5 months old since female cats can become pregnant as young as 4 months of age!
- Dogs are traditionally spayed or neutered before 4 - 6 months old, but healthy adult dogs can also be safely spayed or neutered.
- Pets in shelters can be spayed as early as 6 weeks of age, before adoption.
It's important to note that while you can spay or neuter healthy adult pets, once undesirable behaviors such as spraying and mounting have been established, having your pet fixed may not curb these unwanted behaviors effectively. It's best to have animals fixed while young to avoid these behaviors from starting.
Speak to your vet in order to determine the best age to spay or neuter your pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.