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Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet (It’s More Than Preventing Pregnancies)

It’s February, and we are celebrating spay and neuter month at Project Hope! Spaying is the surgical process of removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet. Neutering is the process of surgically removing the testicles of your male pet. Of course, spaying and neutering pets prevents unwanted pregnancies, but there are many more benefits we want to tell you about.

Medical Benefits

Spaying or neutering your pet gives them a healthier and longer life.

  • Females: Spaying females helps prevent uterine infections (such as pyometra) and breast tumors (malignant is estimated 50% of dogs and 90% of cats). Spay your female before her first heat to protect against many diseases.

  • Males: Prevents testicular cancer and prostate cancer. Plus, reduces prostate problems.

Behavioral Benefits

Though not a quick fix to all behavioral problems, spaying and neutering your pet eliminates the behavioral issues associated with an un-spayed or un-neutered pet, such as some aggression problems.

  • Females: Spaying females prevents going in heat (females can go in heat 4-5 days out of every 3 weeks during breeding season), yowling for mating and urinating more frequently in the house.

  • Males: Neutered males are less likely to roam, which lowers the chances of males fighting with other male animals or getting hit by a car.

Cost Benefits

It’s less expensive to spay or neuter your pet than care for a litter of kittens or puppies. In addition, the medical bills can run into the thousands of dollars if your pet has a cancer or disease in the reproductive system. If your pet has a serious fight with another pet or animal, largely due to the behavioral issues linked to not being spayed or neutered, the vet bill for either pet can run sky high. Some counties also require licensing for animals that are not spayed or neutered, costing you a fee each year.

Commonly Asked Questions

When should you spay or neuter your pet?

Spay or neuter a dog between 6 and 9 months old. Healthy puppies can be spayed or neutered as young as 8 weeks old. Adult dogs can be neutered, but there can be a higher risk of post-operative complications depending on the age of your dog. Cats can be spayed or neutered as young as 8 weeks old. It is recommended to schedule surgery before your cat is 5 months old. Even if your female cat is in heat, it is possible to have her spayed. It is best to consult with your vet about the best time to spay or neuter your pet.

Will spaying or neutering my pet cause them to gain weight?

Not at all! Though this has become a popular myth, spaying and neutering alone does not cause weight gain. Be sure to keep your pet on a healthy diet and provide them with exercise and activity to keep them at a healthy weight.

What should I do before my pet’s surgery?

Avoid feeding your pet after midnight the day before his or her surgery. Sometimes your vet will advise you to continue to feed your kitten or puppy if they have special diet needs.

What should I do during my pet’s recovery after surgery?

Provide your pet with a calm, quiet and private area indoors. Do not allow your pet to run or jump for up to 2 weeks after surgery. Licking the incision site can cause infection and should be prevented. An Elizabethan collar can help distract your pet from licking. Avoid bathing your pet for at least 10 days after surgery, and check the incision area daily to ensure it is healing properly.

Some discomfort after surgery is normal and your vet may send your pet home with a medication. If you notice any abnormal occurrences to the surgery area including redness, swelling, or discharge, contact your veterinarian immediately. Also contact your vet if you notice your pet has a lack of appetite, is lethargic, vomiting or has diarrhea.

Every year, countless amounts of cats and dogs are euthanized, homeless or end unwanted up in shelters. Your decision to spay and neuter your pet can reduce the number of unwanted pets across the country.

To find a low-cost spay/neuter program near you, visit ASPCA’s Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Program page.

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