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PhD, MPH, MSc
Department of Health Sciences, AASU
Spaying and Neutering
It is truly a national tragedy that millions of animals are killed each year simply because no one WANTS them. Spread the word that when acquiring an animal, you assume sole responsibility for her. Much like children, animals depend on us to keep them happy, healthy, and safe. Be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. The new millennium is a time for hope, for change, and for new beginnings. Spay/Neuter is the single most important thing you can do to make a difference. Please have a heart.
Spaying and Neutering Facts
- Spaying refers to the surgical removal of a female companion animal's uterus and ovaries. The human equivalent is an ovario-hysterectomy. Females who have been spayed cannot have babies. They no longer secrete the hormones that regulate their reproductive readiness. Heat cycles bring hormonal changes that can lead to personality changes.
- Neutering refers to the surgical removal of a male companion animal's testicles. Castration is another term for the same thing. (The word "neuter" is sometimes used as a gender-free term. So are the words "fixed," sterilized," and "altered.") Males who have been neutered cannot manufacture sperm.
- In reality, neutering a male is similar to spaying a female. The gonads are in different locales and the surgical procedure is different, but the end result is the same--no more reproduction.
- Female dogs go into heat every six months usually starting at six months of age.
- Starting at five or six months of age, female cats go into heat usually twice monthly resulting in constant "mate attracting vocalizations," as well as territorial urine marking.
- Dogs and cats are pregnant for 63 days.
- Nursing dogs and cats CAN get pregnant.
- Spay/neuter is a one-time expense that will result in a healthier and happier companion animal.
- The Numbers Are Staggering!
- In 6 years, one female dog and its offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies.
- In 7 years, one female cat and its young can produce 420,000 kittens.
- 70,000 puppies and kittens are born every day in the USA alone. Compared to only 10,000 human births, it's clear that there will never be enough homes for all these animals.
- Almost 8,000,000 dogs and cats are euthanized each year because there are no homes for them.
- Females spayed before their first heat have a lower chance of developing mammary tumors as they age. The possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer is eliminated.
- Neutered males have a lower chance of developing prostate infections. They won't develop testicular cancers.
- Females will no longer go into heat, eliminating the probability of getting blood stains on your couch, floor, bed, etc. when your female has her heat cycle.
- Both sexes experience less of a need for territorial marking behavior.
- Both sexes experience a decrease in the urge to roam.
- Both sexes become more docile and easier to train.
- The personality of both males and females usually improves because they don't have to spend so much time and energy looking for a mate. Neutering will make your pet more affectionate and devoted to you.
- Younger, smaller pets cost less to alter as less anesthesia is necessary.
- Neutering lessens your dog's temptation to fall in love with your guest's legs.
- Neutered males tend to become less aggressive and experience a decrease in the incidence of fighting.
- City pet licenses for altered animals are available at a significantly reduced cost.
- Having fewer animals in animal shelters will increase their chances of being adopted into appropriate homes and lifestyles.
- A reduced pet population will bring greater respect to and place a higher value on animals who currently are deemed disposable.
- You will gain great satisfaction in knowing you have been part of the solution to pet overpopulation, rather than part of the problem.
- MYTH: Animals who have been sterilized get fat and lazy.
- Sterilizing an animal does decrease his or her metabolic rate. That is why this is the perfect time to switch from a high-energy puppy/kitten food to a diet designed for adults. After spaying or neutering an adult animal, feed a diet appropriate to his or her life cycle. Over-feeding and lack of exercise are the cause of obesity, not spay/neuter!
- MYTH: Males don't need to be neutered because they aren't the ones having the litters.
- Believe it or not, this is the most prevalent spay/neuter myth. Immaculate conception, however, does not explain canine and feline pregnancies! One un-neutered male can impregnate hundreds of female animals in the time it takes one litter of kittens or puppies to be born. For some men, anything to do with "between their legs" is sacred ground, especially for their faithful hunting dog or tough tomcat. For individuals who have a need for cosmetic reinforcement, there are synthetic scrotal implants that can restore that "stud-ly" look. Studies show that the majority of dog bites are made by intact, untrained male dogs.
- MYTH: Females need to have one litter before being spayed.
- There is no medical support for this. Some people refuse to spay/neuter because they think it would be nice for their pet to have puppies or kittens. Every responsible home found means one less home available to the many shelter animals hoping for adoption. Each day animal shelters are forced to kill thousands of dogs and cats for lack of responsible homes.
- MYTH: Sterilization is cruel.
- Spay and neuter surgical procedures are done under general anesthesia.
- MYTH: Preventing animals from having litters is unnatural.
- We've already interfered with nature by domesticating dogs and cats. In doing so, we created the tragedy of pet overpopulation. We now have the responsibility to solve it.
- MYTH: Neutering male cats causes urethral obstructions which can lead to death.
- Exhaustive studies have indicated that urethral obstructions are not affected by whether a cat is neutered or not.
- MYTH: Spay/neuter is unnecessary for purebreds because they are in great demand.
- One out of every four animals brought to animal shelters is a purebred.
- MYTH: The cost of surgery is too high.
- Costs tend to be higher in cities and lower in rural areas. If you believe that a spay or neuter surgery costs too much, how do you plan to pay for pet food and routine medical care?
- MYTH: Pets lament their lost capability to reproduce.
- Pets are not homo sapiens--they are a different species from ours. Pets do not to nurture their young for 18 years, watch them go off to college or whatever, marry, and produce grandchildren. Dogs and cats nurse their young for a few weeks, teach them to behave like dogs and cats, and go on with their lives. Males know next to nothing of fatherhood. They rarely recognize puppies and kittens as their own.)