You’ve just gotten a kitten or puppy, and you want to make sure that they have a long, healthy life. We’ve always been told that we should have our pets spayed or neutered, that it’s a necessary thing to do. In fact, Bob Barker always mentioned it at the end of every episode of “The Price is Right,” but what is spaying and neutering and why is it so important for your pet?
Spaying and neutering are very common surgeries performed regularly by your veterinarian; they’re minimally invasive procedures that benefit your pet’s health, wellbeing and behavior.
Spaying is also known as an ovariohysterectomy, in which the female dog or cat’s uterus and ovaries are removed under general anesthesia. Neutering is a form a castration, where the male dog or cat’s testicle are removed. The procedures themselves offer a range of health benefits for your pet. Spaying and neutering animals also keeps feral/wild populations in check, lessening the amount of unwanted animals who later get euthanized in clinics.
- For males, it can greatly reduce the possibility of testicular cancer, and possible prostate problems
- For females, it can help curb the risk of mammary gland tumors as well as uterine infections and cancer, such as ovarian cancer, if performed before a female’s first heat cycle. Many of these tumors tend to be malignant (cancerous) in roughly 50% of dogs and 90% of cats
- Females will no longer be able to go into heat, preventing unwanted litters.
Spaying and neutering can also help your pets overcome serious behavioral issues that may be causing them problems.
- Aggressive Behavior – Spaying and neutering can help curb extremely aggressive behavior, particularly in males. If your male cat or dog has a tendency to bite or go on the attack, then neutering can help reduce these tendencies.
- Spraying and other Behaviors – If you have a male cat or dog, you may notice that they sometimes spray to mark their territory. If this happens far too often, neutering can greatly help in reducing their urge to spray, or eliminate it entirely.
- Pet Safety – If your pets like to go outside, spaying and neutering them can greatly impact their need to roam. When female cats and dogs are in heat, they roam to attract males. Prior to spaying, female cats can go into heat for up to five days every three weeks. Once this begins, they’re likely to cry and urinate more often than normal. In-tact males will become very aggressive in attempting to mate with a female in heat; neutering them will curve that behavior. Roaming can also be dangerous; your pets will be more susceptible to being hit by cars or getting into fights with other animals, which in turn can wound or even kill your pet and/or spread disease. Spaying and neutering helps alleviate these tendencies.
With many stray cats and dogs in many communities, comes the issue of overpopulation; there are up to 8 million homeless animals ending up in shelters every year. Some wind up being adopted, but sadly, the remainder wind up being euthanized. Spaying or neutering can help prevent excessive litters of kittens and puppies, as well as helping to prevent the amount of strays in neighborhoods. Animal overpopulation can also lead to unwanted animals being put in dangerous situations, such as kittens and puppies being abused or experimented on, instead of being placed in loving homes.
When to Spay or Neuter
Cats: It’s safe for kittens to be spayed or neutered as young as 8 weeks old. For females, it’s best to have them spayed before they go into heat for the first time, which is typically around 5 months. Kittens often recuperate fairly quickly from this surgery.
Dogs: Puppies can be neutered and spayed any time after they turn 8 weeks old, yet most are neutered between six to nine months. Male dogs can also be neutered when they’re older, but there’s a risk of post-operative issues, so it’s best to have it done when they’re younger.
If you’ve recently acquired a kitten or puppy or stray and need more information about spaying and neutering, contact our Austin vet clinic. We’ll discuss the procedure with you in detail, and provide the best advice for your cat or dog’s pre and post surgical care.