5 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Pets

5 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Pets

Health Benefits for Dogs and Cats

Health concerns and extending the quality of pets’ lives have become a major incentive to spaying or neutering our pets.

In fact, many serious health risks can be minimized or prevented altogether with spaying and neutering — especially if done at an early age.

While at exactly what age is an ongoing debate — some veterinary experts believe the procedure should be done between 4 to 6 months of age prior to going into heat (to prevent a hormonal surge), other experts believe spaying or neutering after one heat cycle (before the pet turns one year of age) potentially improves skeletal development — there are known health benefits to having the procedure.

Deciding when to have the procedure performed is a discussion between you and your veterinarian. In the meantime, here are five reasons to consider spaying or neutering your dog or cat.

1. Cancer Prevention in Male Pets

Neutering (removing the testicles) eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer.  Male pets born without one or both testes have a higher risk for developing cancers, so this procedure is particularly beneficial.

2. Reduce Prostate Conditions

Though neutering does not help prevent prostate cancer in pets, having the procedure does decrease prostatic hypertrophy (enlargement). Male dogs are more susceptible to prostatitis. In fact, older dogs are often neutered mainly as a treatment for an enlarged prostate gland and perineal hernia.

3. Decrease in Urine Marking, Territorial Behavior

While spaying or neutering does not change your pet’s personality, the procedure can result in a change in behavior such as territorial urine marking or spraying. Veterinarians have also noticed a decrease in male pets seeking female pets in heat as a result of neutering, which can help to reduce the amount of dogs trying to leave home because they’ve tracked a female scent.

4. Prevention of Pyometra

Cat up close

Pyometra, or infection of the uterus, is perhaps one of the most common health risks female dogs can avoid once they have been spayed. Pyometra can lead to serious and sometimes rapid life-threatening illness in an otherwise healthy dog. While dogs diagnosed with pyometra have treatment options, it is often too late to be effective. Spaying is the most effective method to prevent pyometra.

5. Cancer Prevention in Female Pets

Another complication of the intact female is development of reproductive cancers. Ovarian, uterine and mammary (breast) cancers are all too frequent occurrences in unspayed females. Mammary cancers in cats are more critical as the occurrence in cats is significantly higher than in dogs.

Each heat cycle female pets goes through increases the risk of mammary tumors. Thus, unless spayed at an early age, mammary cancers remain a viable risk.

If you have a pet and are thinking of spaying or neutering, discuss with your family veterinarian to discuss the risks and benefits.