New puppy owners often ask us, why should I spay or neuter my puppy? The most common concerns are the cost and the reasons for spaying or neutering. We recommend that all puppies that are not going to be bred be spayed or neutered both for their own health and to prevent overpopulation.
Neutering is a term that simply means “to remove the reproductive organs”. In females the term is spay, and the uterus and ovaries are removed. In males the term is castration and the testicles are removed.
Today this is safe, routine, preventative care. We use the most modern anesthesia and monitoring equipment. We provide pain management before, during and after surgery. We check blood work to make sure the kidneys and liver are functioning properly to deal with the anesthetic. We provide fluids during the surgery to keep blood pressure up and flush the anesthesia from the patient’s system as quickly as possible.
While no surgery is 100% safe, these are routine procedures that we perform hundreds of times each year without adverse events. Animals enter the hospital between 7:30 and 8:30 am and typically leave between 3:00 and 5:30 pm. A simple day stay in the hospital will prevent many problems and headaches and extend the life of your pet.
The animal population is exploding. Each year millions of unwanted pets are born and then euthanized. This is a tragic and preventable story.
Humane Society of the United States Pet Overpopulation Estimates
- Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year: 6-8 million
- Number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year: 3-4 million
- Number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year: 3-4 million
- Number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year: Between 600,000 and 750,000, 30% of dogs and 2-5% of cats entering shelters
- Number of animal shelters in the United States: Between 4,000 and 6,000
- Percentage of dogs in shelters who are purebred: 25%
- Average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year: 3
- Average number of kittens in a feline litter: 4-6
- Average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2
- Average number of puppies in a canine litter: 6-10
The Biggest Myth: It’s Too Expensive
“It is too expensive to neuter my pet.” It’s actually too expensive not to. Here an average puppy spay is priced much less than a the cost of caring for a litter of unwanted puppies. The care of an average litter of 6 puppies for basic care: deworming, vaccinations, examinations, other health screenings and pet food until they are 8 weeks old (the minimum age at which they can be released to new owners) is estimated at about $675. Similar care for a litter of 6 kittens is $625.
These costs do not include lost work and gas for veterinarian visits, bowls, leashes, collars, damage from chewing and house soiling, care of the mother during pregnancy and advertising to place the litter. It also doesn’t include the costs if there are complications with labor or delivery that require a caesarian-section.
Multiply this by just 1 litter per year over several years and the one time ‘expense’ doesn’t even come close to the reality of caring for multiple litters over the life of the mother. And of course there are the expenses associated with diagnosing and treating any disease they may develop that could have been prevented had they been neutered such as uterine infections or testicular cancer.
There are many programs through the state, local humane societies and shelters that can assist with the cost of neutering.
- A female should have a litter before she is spayed. Females should be spayed before their first heat. This prevents uterine infections, decreases the incidences of mammary cancer and keeps another litter of unwanted animals out of the local Humane Society or shelter. We recommend spaying between 4 and 6 months of age.
- I want my children to see a birth. Animals often hide during the birthing process. They don’t want an audience any more than you would. There are many ways for children to see the miracle of birth without putting the family pet through this painful and possibly dangerous experience. Foster a shelter animal that is already pregnant, watch a DVD or visit a farm. Remember birth is about life, not the lesson that it is okay to dispose of living things after you get the experience.
- My pet will get fat. Overweight pets come from over feeding and not enough exercise. Change their diet and increase their exercise and playtime.
- My pet’s temperament will change. If you have an older animal, it has already learned its behavior; it will still be as loving or as aloof as it always was. If you neuter early enough you may avoid behaviors such as spraying, roaming, fighting and mounting.
- Males don’t need to be neutered because they don’t have litters. First there are the behavioral issues. Neutered males don’t roam, fight, mark their territories, or “hump” as much. Second is the health issues- neutered males that don’t fight are less likely to get bite wounds and abscesses. They don’t develop testicular cancer. They are less likely to develop prostate issues. And third, let’s just be good neighbors and not get the next door neighbor’s female pregnant or they may be asking “What’s in your wallet?”
- I can find good homes for a litter. If this were true there would be no animals in shelters. There aren’t enough good homes out there. Don’t contribute by making more unwanted litters.
- My dog is a purebred. Purebred dogs end up in shelters, too. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that approximately 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred. To properly breed a purebred dog requires researching the proper mate based on personality, conformity, and genetic history, testing for eye issues and screening for hip issues to prevent inheritable diseases such as dysplasia. The “profit” from breeding dogs is eaten up by basic good breeding standards.
More Things to Consider:
- Females: An unspayed female will bleed when she is in heat. That means blood stains everywhere she is in your house that will need to be cleaned and treated. Keeping your female away from all the unneutered males in the neighborhood for weeks on end. Even if she’s inside they will gather and try to find a way to her and her to them. While in heat the obnoxious behavior of whining and crying will be unending. Female cats are known to be especially obnoxious. Many cat owners have called thinking their cat is in pain (or even dying!) because of the howling, crying and generally crazy behavior the owner is witnessing.
- Males: A neutered male will still develop their masculine appearance. Castration does not affect their ability to be watchdogs. A good watchdog is the result of good training. It also does not affect their ability to hunt and will allow them to be around other dogs because there is less chance of inter-male aggression. For cats this means less likelihood of marking. It will also prevent the distinctive (and offensive) male cat body odor. Intact males also roam, go missing for days and get into fights over females.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of neutering your pets. We want all pets to have good, long, healthy lives. This simple and relatively inexpensive, one-time, preventative step will make for a much happier life for you and your pet and keep more animals out of the already overflowing shelters and prevent unwanted euthanasia.