Animal Resource Library » Health & Safety » Love your Pet/Spay your Pet

Love your Pet/Spay your Pet

Every year, tens of thousands of female dogs and cats die from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, uterine infections and difficult pregnancies. I can’t tell you how many times devastated pet owners have said to me, “Nobody ever told me the health risks of not spaying my pet.” Most people think that veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering solely to help the pet overpopulation crisis. While this is certainly a major reason to spay, there are numerous major health benefits to doing it as well.

Before we talk about the benefits of spaying, let’s define it; spaying is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs, uterus and ovaries from a female animal. Spaying can be safely performed on animals as young as 8 weeks of age. Pregnant animals and those in heat can also be spayed, although the risk of complication is slightly higher.

  • Spaying your cat or dog before she has her first heat cycle, which is usually at 6 to 7 months of age, will decrease her chances of developing breast cancer to almost zero.
  • Spaying eliminates the chance of your pet developing a potentially life-threatening infection of the uterus called pyometra.
  • Spaying eliminates the mood swings and undesirable behavior that female cats and dogs display during their heat cycles, such as messy “spotting,” pacing, crying and trying to escape.
  • Spaying greatly increases the lifespan of your pet.
  • Spaying eliminates the chances of your pet from dying of uterine or ovarian cancer.
  • Spayed pets have fewer vet bills.
  • Spaying directly helps decrease the number of animals that are euthanized at the shelters and pounds.
  • For every human born in the U.S., 15 dogs and 45 cats are also born!

Here are a few colorful myths about spayed pets:

Myth: My kids need to experience the miracle of birth.
Fact: Most animals deliver in the middle of the night by themselves. Kids can experience the birthing process by watching a video instead of at the expense of the family pet. Furthermore, this irresponsible act of bringing excess pets into a world in which already euthanizes 75% of them deludes your children from the reality of the pet overpopulation crisis.

Myth: My pet is a purebred and her personality is so good that I want her to have puppies.
Fact: One out of every four pets brought to the shelter is purebreds and most do not find homes. Just because your pet is special there are no guarantees that her offspring will be anything like her. Her lineage, the father’s genes, and vast expenses are just a few of the things to consider.

Myth: I can find homes for all of the puppies or kittens.
Fact: Even if you do find homes for the offspring this is one less home for the millions of animals in the shelters waiting to get adopted.

Myth: Spaying will change my female pet’s personality.
Fact: The only changes you see will be positive ones. Spayed animals live longer, healthier and happier lives. They have fewer health and behavioral problems. They will still be protective over your home.

Myth: My pet will get fat and lazy if I spay her.
Fact: Too many calories and not enough exercise cause dogs to become overweight. The good news is that spayed pets need fewer calories so by feeding them less you will cut down on your feeding costs.

Myth: It’s better to allow your female pet to have at least one litter before spaying.
Fact: This is grossly untrue. In fact, the exact opposite is true! Your dog will have much less chance of developing cancer of the reproductive organs and mammary tissue by spaying her before her first heat. Letting her have even one litter predisposes her to breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

Myth: Preventing pets from having babies is unnatural, and therefore they should not be spayed.
Fact: Domesticated pets are NOT wild animals. Humans interfered a long time ago with nature by domesticating animals. Once we domesticate something and incorporate it into our modern lives, we are forever responsible for its care; this means giving pets a permanent home. With the current amount of unaltered, homeless pets it is IMPOSSIBLE for every pet born to have a good home. We MUST spay and neuter our pets.
Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.