There are many benefits to spaying and neutering your dogs and cats, including preventing health risks, helping to decrease the number of unwanted and abandoned pets in the United States, and preserving the health, temperament and conformation of the breeds you love.
Benefits to Spay/Neuter
There are many benefits to spaying your female dog or cat. Female dogs go into heat on average two times a year. Heat cycles last about 4 weeks, and can be uncomfortable, messy, inconvenient and even dangerous to your dog. Leaving your female unspayed highly increases her chances of getting uterine infections or tumors of the reproductive system. Dogs in heat must be kept confined; an intact male dog can sense a female in heat from miles away. Females should ideally be spayed between the ages of 6-8 months, or before they go through their first heat cycle. Studies show that by spaying your female pet before her first heat cycle, you can greatly reduce her chances of developing mammary cancer later in life. Heat cycles are also very messy and uncomfortable for your dog; the pressure they feel often leads to potty accidents and set backs housetraining.
Female cats has about 2-4 heat cycles every year, each lasting 15-22 days. Many female cats will become nervous during these heat cycles and exhibit unusual behavior, such as rolling on the floor, hiding or wanting constant attention. Female cats often become quite vocal, meowing loudly through their cycle. These behaviors can be very difficult to live with, but the only way to stop them is to have your pet spayed. Leaving your pet unspayed increases the chances of unwanted breeding, which produces puppies and kittens that may be very hard to find suitable homes for and may end up in pounds and shelters, further adding to the animal overpopulation problems in our country.
There are many benefits to neutering your male dog or cat as well. Some are similar to the reasons talked about above, such as preventing unwanted litters and lowering the risks of anal cancers, prostrate cancer and infections and sheath infections. Most male dogs and cats are ready and willing to reproduce by the time they are 6 to 12 months old. They are able to breed consistently throughout the year, whenever they are exposed to a receptive female. Intact males have a high desire to roam in search of other animals; neutered males are more content to stay home, lessening the chances of becoming lost or hurt. About 80% of all dogs and cats hit by cars are intact males! Neutered males are also less likely to engage in dominant behavior, will not become overly protective and aggressive, and are less likely to mark or spray in the house. Male pets that are around females in heat will often stop eating, becoming temperamental and very obsessed with finding that female.
One of the most common misconceptions about spaying and neutering are that your pet will become overweight and lazy. This is not true, spaying or neutering your pet has no effect on their energy level or intelligence, they are the same animals they were before the procedure and that will not change. What spaying and neutering DOES change are hard-to-handle hormone levels, and high health risks. Proper diet, exercise and attention will insure your pet remains happy, healthy and energetic, even after the surgery.
Another misconception is that spaying and neutering is too costly. Most spay/neuter procedures cost from about $40-130 for dogs and $30-60 for cats; it varies from area to area. The health benefits of spaying and neutering more than justify this initial cost, as the risk of cancers and infections is much higher in an intact dog. Raising a litter of puppies or kittens is much more costly than preventing that litter.
Many people think that because their dog is American Kennel Club registered, or because their cat is purbred or registered wit the Cat Fanciers Association they are quality and should be bred. ANY litter with purebred parents can be registered, no matter if they are unhealthy, unsound, have horrible temperaments or don't even look like the registered breed. An AKC registered pet does not equal quality, and does not even prove your pet is purebred as it is very easy for breeders to falsify such records. AKC and CFA (amoung others) are good for keeping track of your pets' family history, but it is not a certificate of quality.
One of the most common misconceptions, and one that needs to be addressed, is the "miracle of birth". Many families believe in allowing a female to have just one litter to allow their children to experience the miracle of birth. This "miracle" may be fun and entertaining for you and your family, but it is very hard on your female and will greatly affect her health as well as potentially changing her overall attitude. Females with litters become more aggressive and moody while pregnant and raising a litter, which is a risk not worth taking if you have children in your household.
Pregnancy and whelping comes with very high health risks and is not something an average pet owner can deal with; the death rate of puppies and kittens born to inexperienced pet owners is high. The babies that result from these "miracle" litters add to the millions of pets produced in back yard breeding situations all over the country, most ending up abused, unwanted, neglected and abandoned. Many people also look at breeding as an easy way to make a quick buck off of selling the results. A properly raised litter (health tests on parents, vet care, proper feeding, tail/ear/dewclaw care, showing to prove your pet is a prime example of the breed, etc) costs a lot of money…much much more than you can hope to make from a litter of babies. Teach your children responsible pet ownership by getting your pet spayed or neutered, it is a much more valuable lesson and one your pet can benefit from as well.
Facts about Professional Ethical Breeding
An unspayed female dog, her mate and all their puppies' puppies, if none are neutered or spayed add up to 67,000 dogs in 6 years. One cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in 7 years. Breeding is something that should always be left to the professionals. Professional breeders spend a lot of time, money, and commitment to making sure every litter they produce is sound. Heath tests are done on both parents to rule out any hereditary problems, and they spend countless hours and dollars at shows and being evaluated, competing against other quality pets to earn the reputation of having excellent conformation and a true specimen of the breed.
Ethical breeders consider the whole package; the temperament of both parents, pedigrees, overall health and congenital defects. Both parents of a litter are carefully chosen from long lines of champions (including the parents themselves), and puppy and kitten buyers are lined up before the breeding is even considered. The average pet owner does not have the experience, time or understanding to breed ethically, and those that choose to breed anyhow without learning and earning the responsibility first earn the degrading term of "back yard breeder", which is one step above being a puppy mill or pet store broker. Ethical breeders do not advertise puppies or kittens for sale in the newspaper and they do not sell to pet stores; they do not need to, their reputations are earned and known. They consider the future homes of their babies carefully, often complete with home checks, applications and contracts.
Ethical breeders sell their puppies or kittens on a limited registration with a spay/neuter contract to insure that their litters are not used in unethical breeding situations. They are often sold on contracts to insure that if the pet's new owners should ever have to rehome them, that the breeder has first choice to take the animal back and find it another permanent home where they will be well cared for. Their litters often come with guarantees against certain health defects. Ethical breeders stay involved in their babies' lives forever, not just for the time they are in their own care. Show quality puppies and kittens are sold only to homes where the owners also have an interest in showing, and the breeders will often remain co-owners of these animals until they are finished with their show career and have earned their championship title or merit awards.
The cost of purchasing a puppy or a kitten from an ethical breeder is often higher than your average back yard breeder or pet store, and with good reason! Ethical breeders put tenfold into their litters compared to what an average back yard breeder will in terms of health testing, quality vet care and diet, etc. Purchasing a puppy or kitten from an unethical breeder is a huge risk. There are no guarantee's your puppy or kitten has a healthy pedigree, and most animals purchased from back yard breeders or pet stores are plagued with health problems their entire lives, which means high vet bills for you! The initial cost of purchasing a puppy or kitten from an ethical breeder may be high, but the long-term savings is more than worth it, financially AND emotionally.
Breeding is best left to those with the time, commitment and experience to properly raise a litter that they will remain responsible for the rest of their lives. It is not something to take lightly. The United States has a reputation of having the most unsound dogs and cats in the world because of the high instances of back yard breeders who breed for unacceptable reasons without taking the well-being of the breed, including their own pets, into consideration.
Consider the pet population, get your dogs and cats spayed or neutered. They will thank you!
Something To Ponder - author unknown
A pets love for his family is forever, unconditional, without qualification, without reservation, is pure and unselfish. We the caretakers of these wonderful animals must never forget that our animals are dependent on us for their well being. We must provide them food, water, shelter and health care. In return, they wag their tail, talk to us in their own way, purr in our ears, cuddle next to our bodies, play with us, lick us, provide us company, bring smiles to our faces and heart. Our pets are someone to talk to when we are lonely, cheer us up when we are blue, always there for us with unconditional love. They give us so much more then they get. Imagine how it would be if the whole world acted like our pets.