We hear a lot about spaying and neutering pets. Veterinarians and rescue organizations recommend spaying pets any time from six months old to a year. What is spaying and neutering and why is it so important?
Spaying and Neutering
Spaying (for female animals) and neutering (for males) means sterilizing them so they can’t reproduce and have babies. In females this involves surgery and in males it can be done using surgery or laser. It is done under general anaesthesia and you can usually take your pet home the same day. Recovery usually takes a few days (sometimes longer for females) and your pet does not know that it has been sterilized (just in case you’re wondering). Spaying and neutering are fairly standard procedures and veterinarians run all the tests required before proceeding to check whether your pet is otherwise healthy and can undergo surgery.
Why should I spay my female pet when there are no males around?
It is important to have female pets (dogs, cats, and rabbits) spayed even if there are no males around. With no male to mate with, a female pet will not get pregnant but will still continue to come into heat every few weeks. This can cause significant discomfort and many dogs and cats become more vocal during heat. They also release hormones to attract males and keep looking for a mate.
Once spayed, female pets stop coming into heat and releasing hormones to attract males so there won’t be any more annoying suitors hanging around your house (an added bonus). Spaying doesn’t just stop the production of reproductive hormones, it also has a preventative health function. Female pets who are not spayed but who don’t reproduce either are at higher risk for cancers of the reproductive system, particularly as they age. Spaying helps reduce the chances of females developing reproductive cancers and increases their chances of living a longer healthier life.
Why should I neuter my male pet?
There is a misconception that because male pets can’t get pregnant there is no need to neuter them or it’s enough to keep them indoors to prevent them from trying to find a mate outside. Male pets who are not neutered are also at higher risk for developing reproductive health issues. Male dogs and cats that are not neutered constantly look for a mate once they reach maturity. They have a strong urge to wander and keeping them indoors can agitate and frustrate them. Once neutered, a male loses the intense urge to wander. Neutered dogs and cats are calmer and happier as they don’t have to look for a mate anymore. Neutering helps reduce aggression in males making them gentler and more loving.
Spaying and neutering have positive effects on pet behaviour and health. They also have other advantages such as reducing unwanted pet pregnancies and abandoned pets.
How does spaying and neutering help reduce animal abuse?
Spaying and neutering help reduce unwanted pet pregnancies and animal abuse. A dog or cat (on average) has between four to six puppies or kittens per litter. However dogs and cats can have up to 12 puppies or kittens in one go. That’s a lot of young ones to find good homes for!
Puppies and kittens are adorable, but it’s not easy taking care of them (for their mama and humans). Once they reach around three to four months of age, good homes need to be found as it’s not usually possible to keep all of them together. Finding good homes for pets is not that easy. Sometimes people take home a puppy or kitten and then realize they aren’t prepared for the responsibility and commitment that comes with being a pet owner. Some people think giving a puppy or kitten to a loved one as a surprise gift is a good idea (it never is) and the receiver of the gift later gets bored or tired of taking care of their new pet. Lots of puppies and kittens end up on the street or in rescue shelters not because there is something wrong with them but simply because they ended up with someone who was not ready to be a pet owner. Ensuring pets are spayed and neutered reduces the number of pets that are abandoned on the streets and surrendered to shelters and therefore prevents unnecessary animal abuse and suffering.
Should I let my dog or cat have a litter before I spay her?
Some people think it’s better for their dog or cat to have one litter of puppies or kittens before being spayed. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that this is beneficial to a female dog or cat’s health or general wellbeing. A female dog or cat is not going to “miss out” on the experience of giving birth and caring for her litter. Spaying or neutering your pet is part of responsible pet ownership and nothing to feel bad or guilty about.
What is TNR?
TNR is short for Trap, Neuter, and Release. TNR is a method of controlling the population of strays. Dogs can have up to three litters of puppies per year and cats can have up to five litters. Dogs on average live between 8 to 12 years and cats between 13 to 17 years. Dogs and cats don’t go through menopause which means they can have multiple litters a year of multiple puppies and kittens at any stage of their lives. One dog or cat can therefore produce a LOT of puppies and kittens during their lifetime if left unspayed and allowed to mate. The only way to control the number of strays on the streets is therefore to first trap them, then spay or neuter them, and then release them back as not all strays can be homed. Stray puppies and kittens have better chances of finding a home than adult strays so spaying and neutering at least helps reduce the number of new strays born on the streets.
If your pet is over six months of age then be sure to visit your veterinarian to discuss when would be a good time to spay or neuter your pet 🗓️ ❤️ 🐾