One of the most heartbreaking things that I deal with daily as a veterinarian is the unfortunate result of an overpopulated pet community. Thousands of pets are euthanized every year in cities across this country for no other reason than that they are unwanted. Most of the animals are perfectly healthy adoptable pets but the community does not have the funds to support them. This is the one of many reasons, I strongly urge you to spay and neuter your pets at a young age (before puberty). Animals with extremely desirable traits are needed to maintain as breeding animals, but since they reproduce so quickly, not many breeding animals are needed to supply the demand for dogs and cats. Breeders should be very selective about which animals are used as breeding stock and the animals without superior genetics should be spayed or neutered.
Besides overpopulation concerns, there are many health advantages to spaying and neutering pets. Many diseases can be prevented including uterine cancer, uterine infection, mammary (breast) cancer and/or infection, dystocia (difficulty giving birth), prostatic enlargement, testicular cancer, and behavioral problems (aggression, roaming, and urinary marking). Many other nonreproductive related diseases are also spread by the extra roaming and contact time caused by hormone related activity. Pets are also more apt to be hit by cars and get lost due to roaming in search of a mate. Spayed and neutered pets seem to be easier to train because they are less distracted by other desires.
There are some common myths that I hear when discussing spay/neuter with clients. The first is that females need to go through at least one cycle or have a litter of puppies before being spayed. This idea comes from old information that said it would protect against puppy vaginitis. This has been proven untrue and it actually decreases chances of mammary cancer to spay females before their first estrus. The other myth I often hear is that spaying and neutering will make an animal fat. The procedure does decrease their caloric requirements and, thus, they will need less food to maintain their current weight. Therefore, owners may need to decrease the animal’s food intake after the procedure to prevent excess weight gain.
The surgery required to spay and neuter is very safe and although it carries the possibility of complication, the likelihood is very small and the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risk. If you have concerns about the surgical procedure and whether it is right for your pet, contact your veterinarian for more information.