Many pet owners opt to spay or neuter their pets, and spaying and neutering are important for reducing pet overpopulation.
If you decide to spay or neuter your pet, you have options. Discuss the options with your veterinarian so you can make a decision that's right for you, your family and your pet.
Every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are euthanized. The good news is that responsible pet owners can make a difference. By having your dog or cat sterilized, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens. Spaying and neutering prevent unwanted litters and may reduce many of the behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct.
Spaying eliminates heat cycles and generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration. Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the breeding instinct and can have a calming effect, making them less inclined to roam and more content to stay at home.
Early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer. Neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and testicular cancer.
The procedure has no effect on a pet's intelligence or ability to learn, play, work or hunt. Most pets tend to be better behaved following surgical removal of their ovaries or testes, making them more desirable companions.
While both spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians on cats and dogs. Like any surgical procedure, sterilization is associated with some anesthetic and surgical risk, but the overall incidence of complications is very low.
Although reproductive hormones cause mating behaviors that may be undesirable for many pet owners, these hormones also affect your pet's overall health. Removing your pet's ovaries or testes removes these hormones and can result in increased risk of health problems such as incontinence and some types of cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about the benefits and risks of the sterilization procedure so you can make an informed decision.
Before the procedure, your pet is given a thorough physical examination to ensure that it is in good health. General anesthesia is administered to perform the surgery and medications are given to minimize pain. You will be asked to keep your pet calm and quiet for a few days after surgery as the incision begins to heal.
Consult your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet based upon its breed, age and physical condition. Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, it may NOT be best to wait until your female dog or cat has gone through its first heat cycle.
2015 American Veterinary Medical Association