■ Metro Service
Upon adopting a companion animal, one of the first decisions pet parents should make, advise veterinarians and animal welfare experts, is to spay or neuter their new friend.
Homeless animals are a global problem. Overpopulation continues to plague dogs and cats, and there are as many as 300,000 homeless animals euthanized in animal shelters every year, says The Humane Society of the United States. While many would be quick to assume these are puppies and kittens of “street” animals, the society notes that euthanized animals are often the offspring of family pets—even pure breeds.
Spaying females and neutering males is the most effective method of birth control for these popular pets. Preventing unwanted offspring might be the main reason many pet owners spay or neuter their pets. But there are many additional reasons that make spaying and neutering a good decision.
1. The ASPCA says spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors that are malignant in roughly 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying before a cat’s first heat is ideal.
2. USA Today reports that neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than dogs that were not neutered, while spayed female dogs live 23 percent longer than those that are not spayed. Neutering reduces the instinct to roam and get into trouble, which may contribute to the longer life expectancy.
3. Neutering can help prevent testicular cancer in male pets.
4. Spayed females will not go into heat. During heat, which can occur four to five days at a time every three weeks during mating season, females may yowl and urinate around the house.
5. WebMD says non-neutered male dogs and cats may mark their territory with urine and can be more aggressive during mating seasons. Neutering can help calm the animals.
6. HSUS states that neutering and spaying is the best way to prevent overpopulation and improves the chances that shelter pets will be adopted.
Contrary to popular belief, spaying and neutering pets will not cause weight gain. As long as pet parents continue to provide exercise and control their pets’ diets, pets will remain fit and in good health.
It’s best to discuss neutering and spaying with a veterinarian to determine the best time for pets to undergo the procedure. Many cats and dogs can be successfully neutered and spayed at around eight weeks of age, but older pets can be spayed or neutered as well.