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Should I Spay or Neuter My Pet?

Cane Bay Summerville - Spay or Neuter PetDid you know nearly 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year due to overpopulation, according to The Humane Society?

Furthermore, roughly 6 to 8 million animals are brought to shelters each year because they don’t have a home. As a result, many veterinarians and pet advocates recommend spaying or neutering your furry friend to curb the number of homeless puppies and kittens that ultimately end up in shelters or on the street.

Not only do these sterilization procedures reduce pet euthanasia and homelessness, but they can also bring health benefits and positive behavior changes to your pet. Below we discuss some key factors of pet sterilization that can hopefully help you determine whether one of these surgeries is right for your dog or cat.

What Happens During A Typical Spay or Neuter Procedure?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, a female dog or cat who is spayed will have her ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus removed. Doing so not only takes away her ability to reproduce, but certain breeding behaviors and her heat cycle become non-existent.

A male dog or cat who is neutered will have his testes removed, which takes away his ability to reproduce. Similarly, it also severely limits, if not completely takes away, certain behaviors related to breeding.

Health Benefits

Female animals that are spayed have a significantly lower risk of developing a uterine infection or breast cancer. According to ASPCA, breast tumors that are found in dogs are cancerous nearly 50 percent of the time, and they are cancerous roughly 90 percent of the time in cats. Some suggest that spaying your pet before her first heat is the healthiest option.

Male animals that are neutered are at a lower risk of developing testicular cancer and are also less likely to have prostate problems.

On top of this, USA Today reported that male dogs that have been neutered live 18 percent longer than un-neutered male dogs. Similarly, female dogs that have been spayed live 23 percent longer than un-spayed female dogs.

Behavior Changes

Naturally, un-neutered and un-spayed dogs are more likely to practice urine-marking, a behavior that asserts dominance. Unfixed cats are also more prone to spray, but according to The Humane Society, fixing your cat corrects marking and spraying issues 90 percent of the time. It is recommended to neuter or spay your cat before they are 4 months old and have already started spraying.

Furthermore, un-neutered male dogs are known to escape from their home to venture out and find a mate. Leaving the house puts your dog at greater risk of getting hit by a car or getting in fights with other dogs. Sterilization surgery will lessen his urge to run away.

Lastly, ASPCA suggests that neutering your male dog may help reduce his aggressive behavior and diminish his urge to mount other dogs, people and objects.


In today’s day and age, these sterilization procedures may be accomplished for a lower price. Cesar Millan points out that there are opportunities to have it completed for free or for a low cost.

If you are unable to participate in a low-cost or free program, Millan still suggests having the procedure done anyway. Not only does it provide health benefits, but in the long run, you could be saving yourself money down the road. Unsterilized pets are more prone to producing a litter of unexpected puppies or kittens, and they have a great probability of needing medical procedures associated with cancers and infections.

Weight Gain Is A Myth

While some people suggest spaying or neutering your pet may cause weight gain, one must remember that dogs and cats gain weight primarily for the same reasons humans do. If your dog or cat eats the same amount of food and receives less exercise, he is more prone to gaining weight. If he continues eating the same amount of food as he ages and his metabolism slows down, he is also more likely to gain weight.

However, surgical sterilization does not cause pets to gain weight.

What Age Should I Spay Or Neuter My Pet?

Cats can be neutered or spayed as young as eight weeks old. It is suggested that kittens receive the procedure before they start spraying around four or five months.

Healthy dogs may be neutered or spayed as early as eight weeks old, though most dogs receive this procedure between six and nine months, according to ASPCA. While older dogs are also acceptable candidates for surgical sterilization, it should be noted that overweight, unhealthy or older dogs have a higher risk of post-operative complications.

Talk with your veterinarian to determine the best solution for your pet.

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