You probably either know (or are sick of hearing) why you should have your pets spayed and neutered. February is Medical District Veterinary Clinic’s annual Spay and Neuter Month (as well as Dental Month) with significant discounts offered next month to make this process easier for you. Despite that amazingly enthralling introduction, I think it’s time you hear it all again.
Here’s the abbreviated list of what you should know:
- Neutered/Spayed animals will live significantly longer than intact animals.
- Neutered/Spayed animals will have significantly fewer health problems during their lifetime. We see things like cancer (mammary gland, testicular, ovarian, uterine, etc.), infections, and inflammatory issues more frequently in intact animals.
- Intact animals (non-spayed or neutered) can have real live babies. I know this is shocking to some, but if you have two intact animals who can, they will become romantically coupled and have a herd of kittens or puppies, even if you don’t think they will, even if they are related, or even if you swear you are going to keep them apart. Pregnant dogs and cats need extra care and potentially surgical intervention, which can be expensive and dangerous. Kittens and puppies take a lot of time to care for and the shelters of Chicago are already inundated with kittens and puppies from dogs and cats in similar situations.
- Intact animals try to get out of the house and escape the yard for roaming the neighborhood. They will also participate in mounting and marking behavior.
Here’s what we often hear as reasons why people don’t have their animals spayed or neutered:
- Perhaps you signed a restrictive contract with your breeder that you wouldn’t have it done or wouldn’t have it done until later. You may want to investigate whether this is legal. Also think about from whom you would ask questions about your own health—your doctor, or someone who is not your doctor?
- Fido/Trixie is already six years old, so there’s no real reason to do it at this point. This just is not true. Neutering/Spaying is still beneficial because of the aforementioned reasons.
- We often hear that owners would like to have their animals experience the lovely and natural act of love and having a baby. I would firstly advise all of you who are males to ask a female who has had a baby how wonderful the experience was, and secondly, have you ever seen cats and dogs in heat that are not in a scripted romantic comedy? It is not pretty. It involves discomfort, pain, anxiety, and often lots of unwanted fluid secretion. I would also ask you think about how animals view their experiences and how similar it is to our experiences as human. We all know that animals feel a great deal, but how they feel things like “love” and “family” is much different. We have domesticated our animals and they are not in the wild. Reproduction is not necessary and though I cannot tell you, exactly, it may not even be enjoyable. Please google pictures of a cat penis if you want to imagine the joys of feline reproduction. Also there is much data and research on the health benefits of dogs that are spayed before their first heat cycles in comparison to those that have even one.
- We also often hear that an owner was told that anesthesia is dangerous and animals can die while under it. At last look, the international statistics regarding anesthesia in pet dogs and cats is 99.85% success. And this also includes emergency anesthesia, anesthesia on known sick or critical patients, and non-monitored anesthesia without the aid of doctors or certified veterinary technicians. We take great care in watching out for our patients with pre-anesthetic blood work and continual monitoring of all monitors. There is ALWAYS a risk with anesthesia, as there is with human medicine, as well. But there is greater likelihood of secondary diseases from keeping your animals intact than from anesthesia. We, of course, can talk to you at length about your specific animal and decide what is best.
Every patient is different and requires medical decisions that are best for them, and that doesn’t ALWAYS include spaying/neutering. We just want to make sure that you are making those decisions for the correct reasons. If you have questions, let us know. If you don’t have questions, you can also let us know. We would love to hear from you.
February is also dental month, so next month we will have a dental manifesto for your entertainment.
Brett Grossman, DVM
Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois