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Spaying and Neutering Your Pet

Myths and Facts about Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Millions of puppies and kittens are born every year in the United States.  Most are unwanted.  Many die on the streets; an estimated 8 to 12 million are taken to animal shelters.  The animal shelters can find responsible homes for only 25%-35% of the animals taken in. Except at ‘No Kill’ shelters, after a certain length of time animals must be euthanized.The shelters are not to blame.  They have these animals because the public has failed to control the pet population.  The Susquehanna Animal Shelter spays and neuters each animal prior to making it available for adoption.  There is also a program by which feral cats are neutered and returned to the wild. Most responsible shelters also ensure that animals to be adopted out are spayed and neutered.   The following are some common myths about spaying and neutering, and the facts associated with each.

Myth: Neutering will make my pet get fat and lazy.

Facts: Pets get fat and lazy if they are fed too much and are not exercised enough
After surgical sterilization, it may be necessary to decrease the amount of food your cat or dog was used to eating. Food requirements vary among pets depending on age, environmental temperature, activity level and metabolism.

Myth: Since I find homes for the litters, it is OK to let my pet give birth.

Facts: Whenever you allow a kitten or puppy to be born, you are responsible for the death of another animal.  Because of the tremendous overpopulation of dogs and cats, each time you give someone a puppy or kitten, a potential home is lost for one of the untold numbers of animals in shelters who must then be euthanized, or for one of the unfortunate animals abandoned in the streets or in the countryside by irresponsible owners – animals who will probably die miserable deaths. Moreover, there is rarely a guarantee that the puppy or kitten you give away will not be allowed to breed further, adding to the number of dogs and cats that will be euthanized or become strays each year.

Myth: The surgery is painful and dangerous.

Facts: The surgery is performed under anesthesia and is painless.  As with all surgery, precautions must be taken, but animals usually recuperate completely within a few days.

Myth: My children should be able to witness the miracle of birth.

Facts: The price in suffering so that your children can witness this ‘miracle’ is too high.
To allow the birth of a litter so that it can be witnessed by your children is teaching your children irresponsibility.  Instead, teach them responsibility by explaining why their pet should not have ‘babies’.

Myth: I shouldn’t sterilize my purebred because I should keep the breed going and make some money from the litters.  I can always find homes for purebred dogs.

Facts: Being a purebred does not guarantee a loving lifelong home. Typically, 25% of dogs surrendered to animal shelters are purebreds. Those who breed purebred dogs or cats – and do it properly – rarely make a financial profit.  Ensuring the health of the parents, as well as that of the puppies and kittens requires regular veterinary care and genetic screening.  Serious genetic defects that should not be perpetuated are associated with many popular breeds. Be aware that AKC ‘papers’ guarantee nothing regarding the health, quality or even breed of a pet.  The ‘papers’ simply indicate that the owner has affirmed to the AKC the identity and breed of the litter’s sire and dam.

Myth: Spaying or neutering my pet too young is dangerous and will cause long term health problems.

Facts: Sterilization of puppies and kittens can be done as early as eight weeks safely and with no ill effects later on.  Many animals shelters have these surgeries performed on their puppies and kittens before they are adopted to ensure there will be no ‘accidents’ when they mature that would add to the animal population. The American Veterinary Medical Association has endorsed spaying and neutering puppies and kittens between 8-16 weeks of age as a positive step toward reducing pet overpopulation.

Myth: She should have a litter before she is spayed.

Facts: The more heat cycles a pet has gone through, the more susceptible she is to serious diseases.  There are NO medical advantages to permitting your pet to have a litter. One of the many advantages of spaying a female pet is that it eliminates the possibility that she will ever have the dangerous disease of the uterus called pytometra.  When spaying your pet, the veterinarian removes the uterus as well as the ovaries. Unspayed females are 7 times more likely to develop mammary tumors.  Spaying a female reduces the chances of developing these serious tumors. A cat or dog that experiences motherhood does not automatically develop a better temperament.  Often just the opposite occurs. Neutering male pet reduces cancers, prostate disease and a serious type of hernia. Neutered males are better behaved, less likely to run away from home and are less likely to urinate in the house.

Myth: The surgery is too expensive.

Facts: The surgery is only performed once.  Averaged over the cost of the pet’s lifetime, the cost is small.  Consider the surgery an investment in the life of your pet.  It prevents unwanted heat cycles, litters and serious diseases.Your local  animal shelter or veterinarian will have information about low-cost or subsidized neutering programs for pet Owners needing financial assistance. Often, license fees for dogs are lower for neutered pets.  Over the pet’s lifetime this will pay for the cost of the surgery.

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