What is spaying/ neutering?
Spaying and neutering are methods of sterilization for animals to block reproduction. Spaying is performed on female dogs and cat, where the ovaries and uterus are removed so she cannot reproduce. Neutering, aka castration, is performed on male dogs and cats, where the testes are removed to avoid reproduction.
What are the pros of spay/neuter?
Pro #1: No unwanted pregnancy. While puppies are cute and fun, it can be a lot work to raise puppies, and not everyone is willing or able to care for them. As a result , they often end up in shelters or on the street. So to help prevent those surprise or unwanted pregnancies with your dog, having them spayed or neutered will eliminate the risk.
Pro #2: Decrease pet overpopulation. Millions of pets end up in shelters every year and a lot of those animals never find a home. You can help be part of the solution to the pet overpopulation by having your pet “fixed” and reduce the number of unwanted animals that don’t deserve a life in a shelter, or to be euthanized. Intact pets at shelters will also cost money for the shelter to fix, taking away necessary funds that the shelter could you elsewhere.
Pro #3: Health benefits with spay/neuter. . Females that are spayed cannot develop ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer, or develop a life-threatening uterine infection if they are spayed. Neutering a male dog will help to significantly drop the risk of prostate problems and testicular cancer. Mammary cancer rates are significantly higher in female dogs that underwent heat cycles.
Pro #4: There are behavioral benefits. A spayed female won’t go into heat cycles, which means no vocalizing to announce that they are in heat, and no diapering to avoid all the mess. Females can also have cramps and pain for 3 week during their cycle. Neutered male dogs and cats will have reduced marking and a reduced sense to roam around and find females in heat, which can also cause some safety issues if they were to get out, such as animal attacks and being hit by cars. They will also have less behavior issues from the lack of sexual frustration that can occur as well.
What are the cons of spay/neuter?
Con #1: Surgery and recovery risks. As with any surgery, there are always going to be a small risk. You can schedule an appointment with a doctor here to discuss whether your pet has any abnormal concerns of risk with the surgery. There can be complication risks with any anesthesia, and some breeds can more prone to having complications than others. Most post-op complications come from pets being too active in the 14 days following surgery, such as tearing sutures, bleeding, or pain.
Con #2: Hormone imbalances. By removing the organs primarily responsible for sex hormones, your dog’s endocrine system goes through changes and some dogs can experience urinary incontinence, and low thyroid imbalances. There are studies occurring to determine if certain types of cancer may be linked to sterilization, such as lymphoma. No definitive conclusions have been established at this time though.
Con #3: Reduced metabolism can lead to weight gain. Some animals may gain weight after their surgery, but this is due to the pet’s base metabolism that decreases after the procedures. As a result, they need fewer calories to maintain their weight after surgery. Unless you adjust your pet’s diet accordingly, they may gain weight.
While nobody can, or should, make the decision for you when it comes to spaying or neutering your pet, when it comes to the pros and cons of these procedures, we recommend you have a conversation with your vet. However, we know that spaying and neutering is considered by far the most effective tool to fight overpopulation of pets and to make sure more animals in shelters find a home and avoid euthanasia.