Spaying and Neutering Has Health Benefits for Pets

Posted by Southtowns Animal Hospital on February 19, 2018

Spayed females tend to live longer.  Spaying helps to prevent breast cancer.  Having your pet spayed before the first heat gives the best protection, but there can also be benefits from allowing your pet to have one heat cycle before surgery.  It is best for you to discuss this with the veterinarian.

Unspayed females are also at risk of a dangerous uterine infection called a pyometra.  This life-threatening infection can only be treated by removing the uterus, but now the pet is critically ill, and the uterus is filled with pus and is up to 10 times larger than normal.  If the infected uterus bursts, the infection spreads to the entire abdominal cavity and sadly the pet seldom recovers.

The cost of a pyometra surgery is thousands of dollars versus a few hundred dollars for a spay when the animal is young and healthy, so spaying early is a good investment in your pet’s health.

Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and greatly reduces the risk of other cancers.  Neutering also prevents some prostate problems. However, just like with females, there can be some benefits to delaying neutering that are best discussed with the veterinarian on a case-by-case basis.

There are also behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering.  Female cats can go into heat as much as every 3 weeks in breeding season, and they will try to escape to breed.  They will cry and vocalize constantly.  Female cats in season are likely to urinate around the house to advertise for a mate.  Unneutered male strays in the neighborhood are likely to be drawn to the home as well.

Intact male dogs will often try to escape to find a mate, especially if he can smell a female in season.  Unneutered dogs will lift a leg to mark territory, even indoors, and male cats will spray.  Intact male dogs are more likely to mount people and objects, and intact males can sometimes have issues with aggression. The longer these behaviors continue before the pet is neutered, the less likely neutering will help to stop the behavior.

In addition to the many health benefits, spaying and neutering pets helps to prevent accidental and unwanted pregnancies, and that goes a long way in reducing the overpopulation of dogs and cats in shelters.

If your pet is intact, please call the office to set up an appointment to discuss spay or neuter surgery.

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