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Ask the Vet » Pet Advice Articles

Happy Pets are Neutered Pets

by Dr. Karen Halligan

I bet if someone told you there’s an easier way to live a longer, happier and healthier life, your response would be “Great, what do I do?” Fortunately, there is something really effective to help your companion animals live a better life: neutering. While the benefits of spaying and neutering are similar, for this segment we are going to focus on neutering.

Simply put, neutered dogs and cats live healthier, happier, and longer lives. Since our pets cannot make the decision to neuter for themselves, they rely on their owners to look out for their best. Neutering is a term used to describe the surgical removal of male reproductive organs/testicles. This greatly reduces the often sexually driven behaviors such as roaming, digging, humping, marking and fighting. Furthermore, neutering your pet greatly decreases or completely eliminates certain health problem such as testicular, prostatic and rectal cancers, and hernias.

Aside from health and behavior benefits, another very important reason to neuter you pet is to help curb the massive pet overpopulation crisis. To put it in perspective, everyday 10,000 babies are born in the United States, and 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. Only one out of five of these find their way into a responsible home. Approximately 14 million dogs, cats, and rabbits end up in shelters every year in this country alone. Only one in four makes it out alive. Clearly, you can save lives by neutering your pet.

Here are a few colorful myths about neutered pets:

Personality

Myth: Neutering my dog will change his personality.

Fact: Your pet’s personality will not change much, if any, once he is neutered. In fact any minimal change that does take place will be for the better. For example, neutered cats almost instantly stop crying and howling in the middle of the night to get out to mate and are less aggressive, even during play. Your pet will be a more loving companion because he is not preoccupied with breeding and fighting.

Laziness

Myth: Neutering my pet will make him fat and lazy.

Fact: Neutered pets are not fat and lazy. Too many calories and not enough exercise make pets fat and lazy, regardless if they are neutered or not. The good news is, however, is that most neutered pets need fewer calories to sustain their body weight. This means that they probably won’t need to eat as much but will still need plenty of healthy exercise to keep their weight normal.

Emasculation

Myth: My male dog will feel emasculated if I have him neutered.

Fact: Neutered pets do not feel emasculated. That is a human trait. On the contrary, they are relieved they no longer have to constantly think about searching for a female in heat. They are more focused, easier to train and content. Think about it… you would not want to be incessantly frustrated to mate, and if you were a pet you would be greatly relieved to have such an overwhelming, frustrating drive eliminated.

Protection

Myth: Neutered dogs are not good protection dogs.

Fact: Neutered pets are better protection animals because if an intruder opens the door and there is a female in heat (which can be detected up to three miles away with our pet’s amazing sense of smell) in the neighborhood, your neutered pet will NOT choose mating over protecting you. Pets protect their owners partly instinctually, and partly because they love them—neutered or not.

Pain & Risk of Death

Myth: Castration is very painful for dogs and cats and my pet might die during the surgery.

Fact: Neutering is a relatively short, easy surgery, which is commonly performed and with today’s pain management and quality anesthetic is considered a short, safe surgical procedure. In fact, most dogs are completely normal within 24 to 48 hours after the surgery.

Expense

Myth: Neutering is too expensive.

Fact: There are lots of low cost clinics available.  Remember, the costs of NOT neutering your pet are way greater since they are more destructive to your belongings.

Just a few of the reasons to neuter your pet