The Benefits of Spaying & Neutering Your Pet


Surgically altering animals to control reproduction goes by many names, "neutering" and "spaying" being the two most common terms. Neutering involves the removal of both testicles from the male, and therefore the removal of sperm-producing tissues. Spaying involves the removal of the uterus and both ovaries from the female. Spayed females cannot conceive and will not go through heat cycles after surgery.

Why should I spay or Neuter My Pet?

A great deal of attention should be paid to controlling unwanted pregnancies in our pets. Although everyone thinks puppies and kittens are cute, there are just too many of them. If we were to take care of all the homeless pets in this country, every man, woman and child would have to own seven pets that's 28 pets for a family of four. Obviously, this is impossible.

Unfortunately, many of these unwanted puppies and kittens end up abandoned and eventually die of starvation, suffer injuries and death from car accidents or are euthanized in animal control facilities. Those who survive can be public health hazards, carrying diseases to other animals and even to people.

Health Benefits

In addition to preventing the birth of unwanted animals, spaying and neutering will help your pets live longer, healthier lives. There are many health benefits associated with these surgeries. Males, after neutering, have a reduction in the size of the prostate gland, which greatly decreases their risk of bacterial infections and prostate cancer in later years. Males should be altered about one year of age in order to obtain the most health benefits.

Spaying female dogs eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of mammary cancer, especially if your pet is spayed before her first heat cycle.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no reason to wait until your female pet has gone through a heat cycle to have her spayed. There are NO medical benefits in waiting in fact, it is better for her later health to NOT go through a heat. Also, the chance of your pet becoming pregnant even during one heat cycle is good, and going through a pregnancy is risky to your pet and costly to you.

Another common misconception about spaying and neutering is that altered animals become fat. While it is true that an animal's metabolism will change after the surgery, obesity results only because people overfeed and under exercise their pets. You should monitor the weight of recently altered animals and adjust their diets and exercise to maintain optimal weight and fitness.

Behavior Benefits

Altering your pet will make him or her a better, more affectionate companion. Altered pets are not as likely to roam or get into fights. Also aggressive tendencies can be curbed by having your pet altered. The surgery does not make the animal any less protective, however, nor does it affect the personality of your pet. Dogs have natural instincts to protect their homes and families. In fact, your neutered dog may be an even better protector after surgery, because he will not be distracted and tempted to run off, but will be happy to stay at home with you.

Do a wonderful thing for your pet and yourself by having him or her neutered or spayed. These surgeries are one time investments in the long term health and happiness of your pet.

By William Kusterbeck DVM


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