Q: What is spaying and neutering?
Spaying and neutering, the most common surgical procedures performed on animals, stop animals from being able to reproduce. In both cases, the animal is given general anesthesia so that it does not feel any pain or discomfort. Females are spayed, and males are neutered. When a female is spayed, her ovaries and uterus are removed. When a male is neutered, his testicles are removed. Neutering requires considerably less time and equipment than a spay surgery.
Q: When should my pet be spayed or neutered?
As early as possible! Cats and dogs can be spayed or neutered when they weigh at least two pounds—typically at eight weeks of age. It’s best to spay your female pets BEFORE their first heat. We recommend pets be spayed or neutered between 3-4 months of age.
Q: If my pet is an adult, is it too late to be neutered?
Absolutely not! As long as they are healthy enough for surgery, there is generally no upper age limit for pets to be spayed or neutered, and, in fact, older pets can benefit from the surgery.
Q: Doesn’t spaying and neutering hurt?
Veterinarians provide animals with a general anesthetic, so the surgery itself is painless. Any discomfort an animal experiences afterward is minimal, and can be alleviated with medication given to you by your vet. According to VetCentric.com, “most cats will heal very easily and quickly,” and “most dogs show no signs of discomfort from the procedure.” In fact, some animals “may attempt to resume their normal level of activity immediately after surgery.” This, of course, should be monitored to ensure that the animal does not aggravate the incision and that the body is given time to heal.
Q: Does spaying or neutering provide any additional benefits?
Yes. Spaying greatly reduces the risk of various reproductive tract disorders and cancers. Neutering often resolves undesirable behaviors such as aggression, spraying, and roaming. Generally, animals that have been spayed or neutered prove to be more sociable companions. Most pets become less aggressive toward people and other animals. Spaying or neutering your pet will not alter the pet's training or its ability to work or hunt.
Other advantages of spaying and neutering your pet:
- The neutered male cat has a decreased urine odor and is far less inclined to mark its territory by spraying urine.
- The neutered male dog also has decreased urine odor and is less likely to mark territory and display aggression toward other dogs.
- Altered pets are less likely to make inappropriate sexual approaches toward people or objects.
- They are less likely to roam and are less likely to be aggressive. This helps to prevent pets from becoming lost or stolen, being hit by cars, or contracting a contagious disease through fighting with other animals.
- Altering your pet helps to control pet overpopulation by reducing the number of litters of puppies or kittens who will need good homes.
Q: Is it really necessary to neuter males? Males don’t give birth!
The old saying “it takes two to tango” is as true for animals as it is for humans. Even if you are very careful to keep your male pet under control at all times, he may escape, and accidents will happen. In fact, he will likely try repeatedly to escape, digging up your yard, scratching up your door, or chewing off his restraint in the process. Males roaming in search of a mate are susceptible to being injured by traffic and getting into fights with other males. And while a female cat or dog can only have one litter at a time, male animals can impregnate many females each day.
Q: Should the female go into heat or have her first litter before being spayed?
No. It is actually healthier for your dog or cat never to experience a heat cycle as it lessens the animal’s chance of getting mammary cancer and decreases the animal’s stress and risks due to pregnancy and delivery. Research indicates that dogs spayed prior to their first heat have less than a half of one percent chance of experiencing mammary cancer as compared to an eight percent chance after the second heat. Cats spayed after their first heat have a seven times greater chance of suffering from mammary cancer than cats spayed prior to their first heat.
Q: Is it safe for a dog or cat to be spayed when she is in heat or pregnant?
Yes. Females in good health can have the surgery done when they are in heat or pregnant.
Q: Why shouldn’t I just keep my female dog or cat confined while she is in heat?
Keep in mind that your pet can become pregnant days before as well as after showing obvious signs of being in heat. It’s not always easy to keep pets in heat confined- a cat in heat will often try to escape outside and dogs will attract a mate simply by going outside to urinate. Also, remember that your un-spayed dog will come into heat twice a year her entire life. A cat comes into heat once a month or even more frequently her entire life. And keep in mind all of the other health benefits of spay surgery as listed above.
Q: Doesn’t spaying or neutering make dogs less protective?
No. Dogs do not become less protective or loyal to their guardians as a result of being spayed or neutered.
Q: Will spaying or neutering my pet cause it to become fat and inactive?
No. Weight gain is due to being fed more calories than the animal uses. Be aware of the quantity of food you give your pet, and follow feeding instructions as given by your veterinarian or on pet food labels. Older pets need fewer calories than younger ones because they tend to be less active and are no longer growing. Regular play and exercise, along with a proper diet, are the keys to keeping your pet in shape.