Spaying is a general term used to describe the ovariohysterectomy of a female animal. Neutering is a general term used to describe the castration of a male animal. However, neutering is often used in reference to both genders. The surgical procedure, performed by a veterinarian, renders the animal incapable of reproducing. Here are answers to some questions you may have about this beneficial procedure.
When can I have this procedure done?
American Humane believes that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities should be spayed or neutered (i.e., sterilized). Such sterilization includes prepubertal spaying and neutering of kittens and puppies. American Humane supports the passage of laws and regulations mandating that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities be sterilized.
American Humane encourages the veterinary profession to assist, whenever and however possible, in reducing the number of unwanted pets. This involvement includes supporting the neutering of cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities – thereby controlling the ongoing contribution of offspring to pet overpopulation.
Pet owners should work with their veterinarians to determine the appropriate sterilization ages for individual cats and dogs. Veterinarians are encouraged to work with clients, especially those who are well known and likely to permit an unwanted pregnancy to occur prior to surgery. Short-term and long-term health risks for each animal should always be assessed. American Humane encourages research into the development and use of nonsurgical methods of sterilization.
Why should I have my pet neutered?
Animal shelters, both public and private, are faced with an incredible burden: What to do with the overpopulation of dogs and cats that they cannot find homes for? Approximately 3.7 million animals are euthanized at shelters each year, due to the sheer fact that there are not enough willing adopters. Having your pet spayed or neutered ensures that you will not be adding to this tremendous burden.
What are some of the health and behavioral benefits?
Through neutering, you can help your dog or cat live a happier, healthier, longer life. Spaying eliminates the constant crying and nervous pacing of a female cat in heat. Spaying a female dog also eliminates the messiness associated with the heat cycle.
Neutering of male dogs and cats can prevent certain undesirable sexual behaviors, such as urine marking, humping, male aggression and the urge to roam. If you have more than one pet in your household, all the pets will generally get along better if they are neutered.
A long-term benefit of spaying and neutering is improved health for both cats and dogs. Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer and totally prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland, and greatly reduces their risk for perianal tumors.
Neutering just costs too much!
The cost of caring for a pet, including providing veterinary care, should be considered before acquiring an animal. Many animal shelters offer low-cost spay/neuter services, and there are also many low-cost spay/neuter clinics across the country. To find low-cost options in your area, call your local animal shelter. The reality is that the cost associated with providing adequate care for just one litter of puppies or kittens is often more than the cost of spaying or neutering. The cost of feeding, worming and first vaccinations for a litter can be upwards of $200 to $300. You must also consider that there could be complications with the birth that require hospitalization or surgery. You will also be faced with finding good homes for the offspring yourself or placing more animals into your local shelter. The cost of the well-being of not just your companion animal, but of future generations, should be considered.
Can't I allow my purebred dog to have just one litter?
Mixed breed or purebred — there just aren’t enough good homes. Purebred animals also often end up in shelters. In fact, 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebreds. Responsible purebred breeders have homes for their potential litters before they breed.
I don't even own a pet! Why is this my problem?
All of us are affected by animal overpopulation. Millions of tax dollars are spent annually to shelter and care for stray, abandoned and unwanted pets. Human health is threatened by the danger of transmittable diseases (including rabies), animal bites and attacks. Property may be damaged and livestock killed when pets roam in search of food. Animal waste is proving to be a serious environment hazard, fouling yards and parks. It is only when all of us assume the responsibility for pet overpopulation that we will see any decrease in the problem.
Isn't it wrong to deprive an animal of the natural right to reproduce?
No, it’s wrong to allow these animals to reproduce millions of unwanted offspring that are eventually killed because there aren’t enough responsible homes.
If I find homes for my pet's litters, then I won't contribute to the problem, right?
Wrong. Only a finite number of people want pets. So every home you find for your pet’s offspring takes away a home from a loving animal already at a shelter.
Shouldn't every female pet have at least one litter before being spayed?
No. In fact, your pet will be healthier if she never sexually matures.
Shouldn't children experience the miracle of birth?
No. A more important lesson to teach your children would be responsible pet ownership and concern for life by explaining why their pet should not have babies.
Doesn't neutering alter an animal's personality?
No. Personality changes that may result from neutering are for the better. Not being distracted by the instinctual need to find a mate helps your pet stop roaming and decreases aggressive tendencies.
Won't animal shelters take care of the surplus animals?
No. Shelters do their best to place animals in loving homes, but the number of homeless animals far exceeds the number of willing adopters. This leaves many loving and healthy animals in our community that must be euthanized as the only humane solution to this tragic dilemma. Only spaying and neutering can end the overpopulation problem.