Should you spay/neuter your pet?
- Merriam-Webster defines spaying as removing “the ovaries and uterus of (a female animal)” and neutering is to “castrate [to deprive (a male animal or person) of the testes], alter.”
- Although the practice of castrating livestock dates back to Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, it wasn’t until the 20th century that neutering dogs became prevalent, as “closer contact increased between humans and their dogs” once it became acceptable for dogs to live inside homes and “be considered members of the family.”
- The Humane Society of the United States reports that, according to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 78% of “owned dogs” are spayed or neutered, while 85% of “owned cats” are.
- According to the ASPCA, about 6.3 million companion animals are admitted to US animal shelters every year, with approximately 920,000 euthanized annually.
According to The Human Society of the United States, “the choice to spay or neuter your pet may be one of the most important decisions you make impacting their long-term health.”
While this and similar lines are used by those supporting spaying/neutering, it rings just as true for those against it.
The risk to a pet’s health begins once they’re injected with an anesthetic.
Unfortunately, complications are inevitable as safe anesthesia doesn’t exist. Some of the complications pet owners can expect include hypothermia, abnormal heart rate, and hypoventilation.
These pale in comparison with the most significant risk of anesthesia: death. While rare, death due to anesthesia is still an option.
What further makes spaying/neutering pets dangerous are the health issues that may develop over time.
For instance, dogs fixed early (between 6 to 14 weeks of age) are at a higher risk of lymphoma. Researchers also found they were twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia.
Spaying/neutering dogs may also impact their longevity. The lack of testosterone in neutered dogs makes them more susceptible to developing some cancers.
With so many risks to their health, pets aren’t the ones benefiting from these procedures. So, why should man’s best ‘furriends’ go through this torture?
The benefits of spaying and neutering pets are numerous and substantial. Major animal welfare organizations worldwide actively promote the practice, citing its many merits for not just animals but also owners and communities. Meanwhile, outdated myths opposing spaying/neutering have been repeatedly disproven by data.
Spaying and neutering pets is required by law in many major cities. Pets with such surgery live longer and are at a reduced risk for multiple health conditions. Intact males are driven by their quest to mate, leading them to seek escape, act aggressively towards other males, howl loudly, and spray to mark their territory. These hormonal behaviors are largely alleviated once neutered.
The overpopulation of dogs and cats is staggering, with daily birth rates representing 15 dogs and 45 cats to one human. A single dog that isn’t spayed or neutered, with offspring that are also not “fixed,” has the potential to result in over 67,000 homeless animals in only six years. The same scenario with a cat can result in more than 11 million stray felines in just nine years. Combating overpopulation by surgically sterilizing pets is proven effective by research and reduces animal suffering worldwide.
Abandoned and neglected, otherwise healthy animals are being euthanized by the millions each year in shelters. When ownerless, unaltered cats and dogs roam the streets, they pose risks to people and other animals. They can cause property damage or car accidents, get into garbage cans or fights, plus engage in a whole host of unwanted behaviors that are not just allowed to continue but exponentially multiply when they reproduce, ultimately costing tax dollars and resources.