As pet parents, we have a responsibility to not only care for our pet but do what we can for the greater pet population. I don’t mean in a financial way or adopting more pets than we can afford. Simply spaying or neutering your pet is one of the single greatest things we can do that will directly affect their overall health, behavior, and eliminate their contribution to the pet overpopulation problem.
Why Spaying or Neutering is Important
Over 7 million pets enter animal shelters nationwide each year. Of those, about 3.4 million are cats. Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.4 million cats). Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.3 million cats).
Over a 6-year period, the offspring of just one breeding pair of dogs can produce 67,000 puppies, yikes! We just adopted a dog who had been breeder at a puppy mill. She is 10 years old and was surrendered last summer. That’s almost 9 full years of breeding. It breaks my heart that she lived in terrible conditions. She had little if any veterinary care and was forced to contribute to these terrible numbers.
Cats can have up to three litters a year with an average of four kittens, and just like humans, a new mom can become pregnant again while nursing. That’s a lot of animals that need homes.
These numbers are daunting but one less breeding animal can make a difference, not only to you but to the greater community.
What is Spay or Neuter?
Spay and neuter are the common terms for surgical procedures that prevent animals from producing offspring. “Spay” means removing a female animal’s ovaries and uterus so that she cannot reproduce. “Neuter” refers to removing a male animal’s testicles so that he cannot reproduce. Both of these surgeries are performed by your pet’s veterinarian and occur typically before they are a year old. Much earlier in many cases.
When Should Pets be Spayed or Neutered?
Did you know dogs can have their first heat cycle as early as 5 months of age. Cats can have theirs as early as 4 months? No wonder 50% of litters in the US are not planned.
Your pets’ veterinarian will recommend a time frame for the surgery. Don’t be surprised when they recommend between 4 and 6 months to help eliminate the chance of unexpected pregnancy.
Around 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States simply because they do not have homes. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by early spaying or neutering.
Benefits of Spaying and Neutering
People, pets, and communities all can experience the benefits from more pets being spayed or neutered.
Spaying and neutering can reduce the incidence of some of the most common types of cancers, making it possible for pets to live a longer and healthier life.
Spaying prevents infections in the uterus (because there isn’t one) and uterine cancer. It almost eliminates the risk of mammary cancers. Spayed dogs live 23% longer than intact female dogs.
Neutering your dog will prevent testicular cancer and problems with the prostate. They live 18% longer than intact male dogs.
Female dogs and cats who have gone through their first heat are 16 times more likely to develop the animal form of breast cancer than animals who are spayed before their first heat. Female dogs that have not been spayed have a risk for breast cancer that is 200 times greater than that for dogs that have been spayed before the first heat. Even dogs that were spayed after their first heat cycle are 10 times less likely to get breast cancer than intact females. For male dogs, the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated with neutering.
Additionally, spay eliminates the potential for pyometra, an emergency surgical situation when the uterus is filled with bus. No uterus, no pyometra, no danger for your cat or your wallet.
Behavioral Benefits of Spay/Neuter
So far, we’ve discussed reducing the size of the unwanted pet population and living longer and healthier, now let’s talk about behavior.
Spaying and neutering can help minimize unwanted behaviors. Neutering reduces dominance behaviors and the likelihood of frequent urine-marking. Spaying eliminates repeated crying and nervous pacing when in heat. Altered pets have less of an urge to roam; looking for a mate. This results in less of a chance of territorial fighting. It also increases the risk of injuries from hit by bars.
These pets will also benefit from a lower incidence of contracting contagious diseases because they won’t come into contact with unvaccinated animals. Excessive barking, mounting and other dominance-related behaviors are associated with intact pets. Altered pets are in general calmer and better-behaved than unaltered pets.
Pet rescue organizations work hard to care for the unwanted and homeless pet populations in any given community. There simply aren’t enough resources, money, manpower, housing to care for all pets in need. When spayed or neutered, fewer pets are in need of these community resources.
It is estimated animal control organizations spend over $800 million annually. Shelters and rescues do their best to care for homeless pets, but there is simply not enough willing adopters to care for all of them. You can do your part by spaying and neutering your dogs, donating to support our Grant Program, which will help more shelters like Humane Society of Tennessee Valley, and spreading awareness about the importance of spaying and neutering as a solution to the pet overpopulation crisis.
Why Spay or Neuter?
Part of our responsibility as responsible pet parents care for our pets. One of the best ways is through spaying or neutering.
Top Five Reasons Why Spaying or Neutering is Best for your Pet:
- Your pet will have the best chance for a longer healthier life.
- You will help with the pet overpopulation problem – no unplanned litters increasing the burden on shelter and rescue organizations.
- Sterilized animals no longer feel the need to roam to look for a mate. Decreasing potential for and diseases injuries attributed to this behavior.
- They make better family pets. Reduces undesirable behaviors like marking, constant, crying, and barking
- Reduces pet parent’s expenditures for veterinary care related an intact pet: pyometra, wound care from fighting, and reproductive cancers.
Spaying or neutering is one of the most important decisions you can make to ensure the health and happiness of your pet. Until every dog and cat has a loving home, it’s all our responsibility to help in the reduction of the pet overpopulation problem. Or at least avoid contributing to the burden already placed upon our animal shelters.
Quick Facts About Pet Over Population
Spaying and neutering makes a big difference:
- 6-8 million unwanted cats and dogs enter shelters each year
- 7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year
- 70% of cats are euthanized in shelters
- $2.5 billion Estimated amount spent by humane organizations annually
- One intact female dog & her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years
- One intact female cat & her offspring can produce an incredible 370,000 kittens in seven years
Quickly shelters are over capacity in the number of pets they can care for. Please make sure you are spaying or neutering your pets as soon as possible to so you and your pet aren’t contributing to the drain on these resources
In the spirit of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, share this post by clicking one of the icons below and help spread the word about the importance of spay/neuter.
Happy Pet Parenting,