By Nicole Abrego
Every year, around 6.5 million pets are surrendered to animal shelters across the United States. Unfortunately, nearly 1.5 million animals are euthanized each year, simply because there are not enough homes for these homeless pets.
We know this news is a bit dreary but there is a way for us humans to help. One of the best ways to help curb the pet overpopulation problem in the US is by spaying and neutering to prevent unexpected litters. But there are many misconceptions about spaying and neutering that may make pet owners a little apprehensive about having this procedure performed on their beloved pet.
In honor of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, here are 5 common myths about spaying and neutering debunked.
1. MYTH: Spaying/Neutering My Pet Will Make My Pet Gain Weight
FACT: This is probably one of the most common misconceptions about spaying and neutering. In reality, lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to put on the pounds, NOT spaying and neutering. With proper exercise and a portion-controlled diet, your pet can maintain a healthy weight for the rest of their lives.
Speaking of weight management, having a few extra pounds on your pet can eventually lead to a variety of health issues later in their life and can potentially shorten your pet’s life span. If your pet is overweight, your veterinarian can assist you in determining the right weight management plan for your pet to help get them to their ideal healthy weight.
2. MYTH: The Spay/Neutering Procedure is Painful and Expensive
FACT: The spay/neutering procedure is performed while your pet is under anesthesia, so they would feel no pain while the surgery is being done. After the procedure, your veterinarian will be able to provide you with an aftercare and pain management plan for your pet to help them feel as comfortable as possible during their recovery.
When it comes to cost, the cost of the spay/neuter surgery is considerably less compared to the cost of caring for an unexpected litter of puppies or kittens! Not only that, but spaying/neutering your pet can reduce the risks of certain types of cancers, such as cancers associated with the reproductive systems. Caring for a pet with a reproductive system cancer can easily become incredibly expensive compared to the cost of a routine spay/neuter surgery. Overall, spaying/neutering your pet is one of the best things you can do for your pet’s health - and for your wallet!
3. MYTH: There Are No Health Benefits to Spaying/Neutering My Pet.
FACT: In actuality, the opposite of this is true! According to SpayUSA, spaying/neutering your pet will increase their chance of living a longer healthier life. Altering your dog can increase their life expectancy by 1 to 3 years while altered cats can live 3 to 5 years longer. There are a couple of factors that contribute to this.
As mentioned earlier, spaying/neutering can actually reduce the risk of certain cancers, mainly cancers of the reproductive system. Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the instance of prostate disease in males. Spaying female pets, especially before their first heat cycle, will eliminate uterine and ovarian cancers, reduce the risk of mammary gland tumors, and virtually eliminates uterine infections, such as pyometra, which can be fatal if not caught early.
Additionally, your altered pet will have decreased desire to roam, since spayed females will no longer have heat cycles and neutered males won’t be searching for females for mating. This will decrease the chance of your pet escaping outside during the mating seasons where they can encounter a whole slew of other dangers.
4. MYTH: My Pet’s Personality Will Change After the Spay/Neuter
FACT: Your pet’s personality has nothing to do with their sex hormones so you have no reason to fear your pet having a completely different personality after their procedure is performed. In most cases, altering your pet may actually decrease the instances of some unwanted behaviors such as spraying strong smelling urine to mark territory or your male dog mounting other dogs, humans, and objects. Neutering may also lower aggression problems in male dogs due to the reduced presence of testosterone.
Of course, it is not a guarantee that these unwanted behaviors will cease after your pet has been spayed/neutered as this will depend on your pet’s individual personality and learned behaviors/habits. Regardless, there are still many health benefits to having your pet spayed or neutered that will greatly benefit your pet’s life in the long run.
5. MYTH: My Male Dog/Cat Will Feel Less “Manly”
FACT: This may seem like a strange concern but this has worried some pet owners! But rest assured, your pet will not experience an identity crisis or altered personality once they have been spayed/neutered. This is because our pets don’t have a concept of sexual identity or ego so their initial personality will not be affected after their surgery.
We hope we were able to clear up some concerns that you may have had about spaying and neutering. Of course, each pet is different and you should discuss any individual concerns you have about spaying/neutering your pet with your veterinarian as she will be able to help guide you through all aspects of your pet's health care. If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, please feel free to reach out to us.
The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.