I wanted to discuss the extremely important topic: benefits to spaying and neutering your pet. This topic is talked about extensively by veterinary practices, animal welfare organizations, and popular T.V. shows.
I wanted to discuss it here, too. Let me tell you why…
A couple weeks ago, I decided to watch an HBO documentary regarding people’s relationships with dogs. I thought it could be an interesting story on how dogs are much more part of the family and how much we will do to protect them.
I could not have been more wrong.
The documentary was broken into 3 parts.
The first segment discussed how some owners/pet parents will do anything to make sure their dog is kept in the home even if it is truly aggressive. (Which is another blog for another day) Then it discussed the overpopulation in animal shelters in the certain areas of the Midwest.
My heart is broken with this segment, and to be honest, I could not stop sobbing at what happened. The documentary takes us to a shelter where they euthanize dogs by placing them in a big container and gassing them until they die.
These dogs, who are already scared of being in kennels, now are terrified as they are placed in a container with the lid closed. You can hear their cries as the container was being pumped full of a gas.
Once the first round of dogs were euthanized, they placed more dogs on top of the dead bodies and proceeded to gas them. After they were all dead, a garbage truck picks up the container and dumps their lifeless bodies in the back of the truck…like trash.
I can’t even remember what the third segment was because segment 2 took all of my attention.
This Didn’t Have to Happen
Yes, the visual in the documentary is devastating. Yes, you may be overcome with emotion as well, but that’s the point. This story didn’t have to happen, and these dogs did not have to die this way. If everyone did their part in caring for their pets, we could have avoided this situation.
Now, let’s look forward.
We CAN reduce the number of euthanasias in the United States by simply spaying and neutering our pets. It is a simple procedure. Not only can spaying and neutering have an impact on the overpopulation in our shelters, it also has health and behavior benefits.
What Happens When Pets are Not “Fixed”
According to VCA, female dogs can have 1 – 2 heat cycles a year starting when they are between 6 -24 months old, where they can get pregnant. Some smaller breeds can have up to 3 cycles.
These pregnancies can produce 1 – 13 puppies dependent on the size/breed of dog. If a female dog is not spayed, and she has 2 litters a year for 5 years (conservative number), she may give birth to up to 130 puppies. If her puppies are not fixed, the cycle repeats.
Female cats, on the other hand, start the heat cycles between 4-10 months old and will go into heat up to 5 times a year. Each pregnancy can result in birthing an average of 1-5 kittens; however, there have been many females who birth up to 10 babies.
If a female cat gets pregnant in 3 of the heat cycles a year, and bears 5 kittens in each cycle, she will have up to 15 kittens a year. Even conservatively, a cat can birth up to 150 babies or more in 10 years.
Where do These Babies End Up?
Can you imagine the cat population if her female kittens are not spayed?
These numbers can be staggering. What are the chances these puppies and kittens will find their forever homes? Some will. Unfortunately, for unplanned pregnancies, many get put out on the street where they begin to reproduce or they end up at the local animal shelter.
Health Benefits to Spaying and Neutering Your Pet
To avoid the number of homeless pets, it is important to get our furbabies spayed or neutered as soon as possible. Not only will it have an impact on the population, it also has health benefits for our pets.
The ASPCA recommends spaying your female before the first heat cycle, as it will reduce the risk of uterine infections and breast tumors. These conditions can be malignant or cancerous in approximately 50% of dogs and 90% of cats.
A male can be neutered as early as 8 weeks, as long as he is healthy; however the average age of neutering is approximately 6 – 9 months old. Neutering will reduce the risk of testicular cancer and other prostate issues.
The health benefits outweigh the cost as it allows our pets to live longer, healthier lives!
(If cost is prohibitive, there are many communities that have low-cost or fee-assistance programs for lower income households. Contact your local Humane Society for more information.)
Behavior Benefits to Spaying and Neutering Your Pet
Spaying and neutering also reaps some behavior benefits…
- You don’t have to deal with yowling and more frequent urinating from female cats.
- Your male dog doesn’t need to find a mate, so he is less likely to devise a plan of escape from home!
- Some aggression issues and marking may be thwarted with an early neuter.
- You will keep your sanity.
- You will not have to spend money on veterinarian bills or supplies for new puppies or kittens.
Economic Benefits to Spaying and Neutering Your Pet
We have discussed some health and behavior benefits, but how does this simple procedure affect the economy…our communities?
The first benefit is the reduction of the animal overpopulation in the United States. If we spay and neuter our pets, we can reduce the number of animals on the streets and in the shelters. In turn, this reduces the number of euthanasias in the animal shelters.
According to petfinder.com (using ASPCA estimates)
- Approximately 8 – 12 million pets enter animal shelters each year.
- Every year approximately 5-9 million shelter animals are euthanized.
- 50% of dogs and 70% of cats in shelters are euthanized due to lack of adopters.
- Every 6 seconds in the United States alone an animal is euthanized.
The second benefit is improvement within our community. Stray animals in our neighborhoods can cause health and safety concerns. These concerns are unclean play areas for children (think sand boxes!) car accidents, disease, and even the possible killing of livestock or other pets.
Reducing the number of unwanted pets on the streets can increase health and safety and can potentially reduce financial strain from having to pay for any damages.
Spaying and neutering our pets will benefit our pets, our families, and our communities. We will have pets that lead longer, healthier lives. We will reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs on the streets or in the shelters, and we will reduce the number of needless euthanasias.
Please take this information to heart. If your pet is not intended to breed, and if you are not a qualified breeder, please be responsible and spay and neuter your furbaby. They will thank you for it and the community will thank you for it.
What Do You Think?
Let me know if you have any thoughts on this topic. I would love to hear what you have to say, so leave a note below.