Spaying and Neutering – It’s The Right Thing To Do
by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association
Everyone who has seen The Price is Right on TV knows that it closes with a pitch by the host to have your dog or cat spayed (if female) or neutered (if male). It is a statement viewers have come to take for granted, but there are definite reasons why it remains a valid message pet owners should heed.
Most of us have no idea of the staggering reproductive powers our pets possess. Did you know that a female cat can produce up to three litters per year, with an average of four to six kittens per litter? This can add up to 18 kittens per year. If each of her offspring has that many litters, it can lead to hundreds of kittens over the course of just a few years.
Indeed, controlling the animal population is crucial in North Carolina, not to mention across the country. An estimated eight million dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States each year simply because there is no one to care for them. That is a depressing statistic for animal lovers everywhere.
There are other reasons to spay or neuter your pets as well:
- It increases your pet’s chances for a longer, healthier life because it reduces the risk of certain cancers such as breast and testicular cancer, eliminates uterine infections in female pets, and reduces the risk of prostate disease in male pets.
- A sterilized pet is a better pet. They are less likely to run away and get injured. Males that are neutered early in life are less likely to to exhibit dominant behaviors. Spayed females can avoid a potentially messy “heat” cycle and do not attract non-neutered males to your home.
- Altered pets are usually less aggressive toward other animals, are less likely to urine mark, and generally have better personalities.
Once you decide to have your pet spayed or neutered, you may want to ask the veterinarian these questions:
- Does the hospital have up-to-date anesthetic protocols? Does it use inhalant anesthesia? It may be a little more expensive, but it’s safer.
- Are the surgical instruments sterilized after every use? It may be more time-consuming, but it’s safer.
- Does the veterinarian scrub and change surgical gowns between each surgery? It may take longer, but it’s safer.
- How are patients monitored before, during and after anesthesia?
- How is the incision closed? Will the pet have to return to the hospital for suture removal? Does the hospital prescribe post-operative pain medication?
The answers to these questions can help you to find the best veterinary hospital for you and your pet.
There are not many good excuses for not spaying or neutering your pets. Some people want their children to watch a dog or cat give birth, but most animals are secretive and give birth in the middle of the night away from the family. There is also a chance of complications during the birthing process, which can be expensive to manage and put the pet’s life at risk
Some pet owners want a puppy or kitten just like the adult parents, but breeding rarely results in offspring that are exactly like one of the parents. Generally, it is best to leave breeding to professionals who have the knowledge, experience and resources to manage possible complications.
The NCVMA and its members care as deeply about pets as their owners do. There are more than enough homeless cats and dogs available for adoption – too many, in fact. That is why we encourage you to show your love for your pets by having them spayed or neutered.
The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA) is a professional organization of veterinarians dedicated to compassionate animal care and quality medicine. For more information, visit www.ncvma.org, or call (800) 446-2862 or (919) 851-5850.