By: Dr. Hilary Slaven
“Ha ha ha, Biff. Guess what? After we go to the drugstore and the post office, I’m going to the vet’s to get tutored.”
1. Prevent overpopulation. Cats that are in tact can have 2-3 litters per year, and dogs 1-2 litters per year. Some of these offspring will invariably become part of the unwanted population of pets in our country. There simply aren’t enough homes for them. Anyone that has had litter after litter of kittens at home can attest to that. The reality is that some will be euthanized due to this fact. Spay/neuter is a part of the solution to this ongoing problem.
2. Minimize aggression. Neutering a male can help substantially with fighting between males. Females can also become aggressive as mothers or during their heat cycle. Spaying removes the spike in estrogen hormone that instigates those behaviors. Spaying and neutering before puberty can positively affect temperament and thereby increase the chances of the dogs in your home ‘pack’ to live together in peace.
3. Slow down the urge to roam. Males looking for females in heat will wander. We think that an in tact male dog can smell a female in heat up to a mile away! Dogs that normally don’t run away from home can develop escape-oriented behavior. Studies have shown this behavior to be reduced in 50-60% of adult dogs and resolved in 25-40% of adult dogs after neuter. If the neuter is done before puberty, chances are good that you will avoid this problem all together.
4. Decrease undesirable urination behaviors. I.e., stop the leg hiking all over the house. Male dogs have a huge increase in testosterone in adolescence (several months of age) and at this time may start urine marking. Neutering before your male dog hits puberty can help to stop this behavior before it starts. We recommend between 4-6 months of age.
5. Prevention of testosterone-related disease in males. Prostate disease, cancer, and some other more rare illnesses are linked to sex hormones in the in tact male. Testosterone is made by the testicle, so by castrating and removing the source of hormone we can actually treat some diseases with this procedure.
6. Prevent undesirable heat cycles in females. Mature female dogs go into heat on average every 6 months. At this time sex hormone levels go through the roof and some females will have a dramatic behavior change (aggression, irritability) and/or have swelling and discharge from the vaginal area and frequent urination. Indoor females in heat are often difficult to manage due to the mess. Outdoor females are often difficult to manage because for 2-3 weeks they will attract any in tact male within a one-mile radius. It is not uncommon for clients to spay their females after one heat cycle, because it is much more difficult than they expected it to be.
7. Prevent breast cancer in females. Breast cancer has been linked to estrogen levels and removal of the ovaries is part of both the treatment and prevention of this disease.
8. Prevention and treatment of estrogen-related disease in females. Uterine infections, cancer, cysts, and other illnesses can be linked to sex hormones in the in tact female.
9. Prevent undesirable matings. I.e. Neuter brother and sister before they mate. Incest leads to genetic abnormalities and deformities.
10. Prevent undesirable male behaviors. I.e. can help with mounting behaviors. So that you can have Aunt Myrtle over without Rover getting too friendly with her leg.
One final note: Spays and neuters can be done with minimal pain and stress.
Also I think of it this way: it allows your pet to focus on his/her job: being a companion and a member of your family.