Trying to decide whether to get your pet spayed or neutered, and wondering what's involved? Today our Boynton Beach vets share some essential facts on what's involved in spay/neuter procedures, why we recommend getting your pet fixed, and more.
When we talk about getting an animal 'fixed' we are using a generic term for the surgical sterilization of a pet.
Female dogs and cats are typically sterilized by removing their ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus.
Sterilization of male cats and dogs is usually done by removing the testes although in some cases a vasectomy can be performed, removing only the vas deferens which conduct the sperm from the testes is removed.
Reasons to Get Your Cat Fixed
Pet parents often feel reluctant to have their cat spayed or neutered, especially if they intend for their cat to remain indoors full-time. But, there are some very good reasons why our vets believe that your cat should be sterilized regardless of whether they are indoor homebodies or outdoor adventurers:
- Protect your cat's health - Fixing a female cat, especially before the first heat, helps prevent uterine infections, uterine cancers, and breast cancer. Fixing male cats eliminate the chances of testicular cancer and lower the risk of prostate problems. Generally, sterilized pets live healthier, longer, and happier lives.
- Enjoy a more behaved cat - Sterilized cats are often better behaved. They will be less likely to roam, yowl, wail, bite, display aggressive behavior, or spray or mark their territory. Intact males will do just about anything they can to find mates, including escaping from your home, which puts them at risk of injury or fights with other males. Roaming can also expose your cat to dangerous diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
- Fight overpopulation - Millions of healthy cats are euthanized in the U.S. each year because there aren't enough homes available. Sterilization can help control the pet overpopulation crisis and reduce the number of strays, which end up in shelters instead of loving homes. Unfortunately, many end up homeless and are left to fend for themselves.
- More cost-effective - The long-term costs you could incur by not fixing your feline friend can be excessive. Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be quite costly, as is caring for a new litter of kittens. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive and may engage in serious fights with neighborhood strays, often requiring pricey treatments.
- Your cat will likely be happier to stay home - One of the reasons fixed cats live so much longer is that they are less likely to wander away from home and fight with other male cats. Sterilization stops the production of testosterone. This hormone leads to more aggressive behavior.
Reasons to Get Your Dog Fixed
Our vets feel that getting your dog fixed is an important part of caring for your pet's overall health and well-being. Below are just a few reasons why you should consider getting your dog spayed or neutered.
- Population control - According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year across the USA. Fixing your dog is the best way for you to help reduce the overall number of unplanned puppies each year while improving your pet's behavior and reducing their risk of some serious health conditions.
- Prevent disease - Sterilization helps to prevent male dogs from developing testicular cancer and helps to prevent serious health problems from affecting your female dog such as pyometra, (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection), and mammary cancer.
- Curb unwanted behaviors - These surgeries may also help reduce a number of undesirable behaviors such as dog aggression, roaming and straying, and humping or mounting.
- Save money - Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be quite costly, as is caring for a dog throughout pregnancy and caring for puppies. Not only that, unaltered pets can be more destructive indoors and in your yard and may engage in serious fights with neighborhood strays, often requiring trips to the emergency vet.
- Your dog will be more contented to stay home - Male dogs that have not been fixed are very likely to try to escape on a regular basis to go in search of female dogs that are in heat. Unaccompanied roaming can lead to an increased risk of being hit by a car or becoming lost or stolen. Having your dog fixed can help them to feel more contented to be at home with you.
Spay & Neuter Surgery Risks
General anesthesia and pain management medications are required for these surgeries. To reduce risks associated with anesthesia, your dog or cat will be given a thorough physical examination which may include bloodwork to ensure that they are in good health before the procedure begins.
Spaying and neutering are significant surgical procedures, however, they are among the most common surgeries performed by vets across the country. All surgical procedures come with risks. These procedures are associated with some anesthetic and surgical risks for pets, however, the risk is very low. Speak to your vet to learn more about the benefits and risks of spaying or neutering your pet. While rare, these surgeries may increase your pet's risk of urinary incontinence and some cancers.
To reduce the risk of infection following your pet's surgery it is essential to follow the post-surgical instructions provided by your veterinary team. These instructions will include managing your pet's activity level for about 10 days following surgery - running, jumping and stairs should be avoided.
When Should I Get My Pet fixed?
There are a number of factors that can influence the timing of these procedures, however, most vets recommend the following:
- Cats should be fixed before they are 5 months old since female cats can become pregnant as young as 4 months of age!
- Dogs were traditionally sterilized between 4 - 6 months old, but recently these guidelines have been questioned. Many vets now prefer to wait until dogs reach sexual maturity (which varies considerably between breeds and sizes of dogs) before spaying or neutering. Ask your vet when they recommend having your dog spayed or neutered.
- Pets in shelters are often spayed or neutered as early as 6 weeks of age, before adoption.
- Healthy adult dogs and cats can be spayed or neutered at any age, however, once undesirable behaviors such as spraying and mounting have been established, having your pet fixed may not curb these unwanted behaviors effectively.
Speak to your vet in order to determine the best age to sterilize your pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.