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Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Close-up of a Golden Retriever puppy sticking its tongue out

“Neuter me before I become a parent, please! I don’t wanna deal with that, and neither do you!”

Everyone reading this blog should know what spaying and neutering is, especially if they have seen “The Price is Right” at any time in the past. At the end of the game show, its host Bob Barker famously ended every episode by urging the viewers, “Help control the pet population, have your pets spayed or neutered.” This is very great advice, because it does in fact help control the pet population – which has gotten extremely out of control in the last few decades. Each year, millions of pets (the majority of them cats and dogs) are euthanized in shelters all over the country due to the overwhelming amount of stray, feral, and abandoned animals. Crammed to capacity, many shelters deem it necessary to use euthanasia as a method to combat the “pet overpopulation” problem which has been met by animal lovers everywhere with outrage, frustration, and endless activism efforts.  Due to the amount of shelter animals desperately in need of homes, there is absolutely NO reason for a non-licensed and certified people to be breeding dogs or cats – intentionally or unintentionally. Besides being socially responsible, spaying and neutering has many other benefits as well:

1.Your Pet’s Behavior Will Change for the Better: There have only been positive effects on behavior as a result of spaying and neutering, which are all related to a general calming of the pet’s demeanor. After the removal of the sexual organs and glands, the hormones produced by those organs are not being created anymore, and they are therefore not messing with the animal’s personality. Females that aren’t spayed usually become agitated, hyper, and overwhelmed due to the effects of the estrogen being released by the ovaries. Her biological system is preparing her for looking for a mate, and stress/anxiety results because of her desires not being fulfilled. The same happens with males too, obviously, although in their case they can become extremely dominating, aggressive, and out of control from the amount of testosterone coursing through their body. They could either want to hump everything, attack other males, or both. It’s best to just avoid all of this strife, isn’t it?

"I wish other pets could be as chill as me."

“I wish other pets could be as chill as me.”

2. Your Pet Will Not Want to Escape and Roam: One of the most common reasons why an animal escapes from their home – and is subsequently found roaming the streets – is because they are going through puberty, becoming physically and sexually mature enough to breed. As stated above, the animal’s bloodstream will be flooded with sex hormones that give them an instinctual drive to find a mate, and find them as soon as possible. Since they don’t have access to a mate inside of your house or on your property, they will seek them elsewhere however they can. Because all living creatures have the extremely powerful basic survival instinct, reproduction is a very strong force  – when that force becomes too much to bear, the animal will break out of the house or yard at its first possible opportunity to fulfill its instinct. Of course, if it does fulfill its innate sexual and reproductive desires, it could result in a pregnancy which you do not want! It is obviously best to either spay or neuter them before they hit puberty, or right when they are hitting it.

"Where's a mate? Where's a mate? WHERE'S A MATE?!"

“Where’s a mate? Where’s a mate? WHERE’S A MATE?!”

3. You and Your Pet Won’t Be in Agony: If your pet goes through puberty and is looking, pacing, crying, etc. for a mate and is denied its natural function to copulate, it will be going through a lot of emotional and physical agony. The anxiety created by not being able to fulfill its instinctual and biological desire will drive it crazy, to be simple. Think about something that you desperately feel compelled to do such as getting a job, or buying something you really want; now imagine not being able to get it no matter what you do, and multiply that by a thousand and you’ll get an idea of the mental strain that the animal is going through. Not to mention, the physical discomfort and mess of the female going into heat, and the male feeling the need to mark his territory everywhere. Additionally, all of your pets are much more likely to get along if they are all spayed or neutered.

"WHAT IS THIS FEELING? MAKE IT STOP PLEASE!"

“WHAT IS THIS FEELING? MAKE IT STOP PLEASE!”

4. Your Pet’s Physical Health Will Benefit: As if the behavioral benefits weren’t enough, there are actual physical benefits to your pet being spayed or neutered as well. In females, spaying her before her first heat cycle eliminates the risk of breast cancer, uterine infections, and uterine cancer. In males, testicular cancer is prevented as well as the enlargement of the prostate (and possible tumors). In males and females, urinary tract infections are greatly reduced also, and there are a number of studies that are finding other possible health benefits as well, including prevention of hernias, and a number of other cancers and infections.

"Please neuter me so I don't have cancers or infections later on!"

“Please neuter me so I don’t have cancers or infections later on!”

5. You Will Be Fulfilling Your Social Responsibility: As stated in the beginning of this post, there is absolutely no shortage of domesticated animals in our society. Every year, between 4 and 7 MILLION homeless animals are “put to sleep,” and many of these poor souls are denied their life solely based on the fact that the shelters are overcrowded, underfunded, and are unable (or unwilling) to employ life-saving/no-kill programs. Although there are many progressive shelters paving the way in terms of life-saving techniques and community outreach efforts (such as the shelter in Austin, Texas), many shelters are dealing (unsuccessfully) with the so-called “pet overpopulation problem” by euthanizing hundreds of animals per month. Why contribute to the enormous amount of animals already out there in need of homes (and resulting euthanasia), when you could just adopt one of them? There is no “need” for your pet to “feel what it’s like to be a parent” as some claim – there is no biological benefit to breeding your animal. There is no “masculinity” or “femininity” that is being compromised by your pet being spayed or neutered, and there is definitely no risk for extinction of dogs and cats – yes, some people actually think that dogs and cats can become extinct one day which is absolutely absurd.

"We're cute, but there's enough of us! SPAY AND NEUTER US!"

“We’re cute, but there’s enough of us! SPAY AND NEUTER US ASAP!”

There are are so many reasons to spay and neuter your pet, that it should seem like a no-brainer to have your pet’s reproductive abilities taken away for their own good. Although you may feel like your pet is special and amazing (which is probably the case), you do NOT need to contribute to the widespread pandemic of pet homelessness in America. By breeding your animal, you are not only putting it at risk health-wise and safety-wise, but you are putting them (and yourself, to some degree) through a lot of unnecessary pain and strife. There is NO NEED for anyone to be breeding dogs at this point in time, so please do your part and spay and neuter your pet! If you cannot afford to have the procedure done, research to find low-cost spay and neuter programs in your area. There are many clinics that offer discounted spaying and neutering, as well as mobile spay/neuter initiatives.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Anne Carson February 17, 2016, 7:16 am

    This is a very one-sided, incorrect piece of advice. Nowhere are the reasons against spay/neuter, especially in young dogs, given, and they are many. The dog will NOT develop into a normal adult, physically, mentally, or emotionally. Many cancers (osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and others are more prevalent in neutered pets. Yes, they will not reproduce, but it would be better to urge responsible pet ownership which does not allow breeding than to categorically and in great exaggeration promise all sorts of detriments to a dog left intact. Familiarize yourselves with the “new” research–from the last 10 years–which explains the strong reasons not to neuter an animal until at least 4 but not at all until the senior years unless there is a problem. Here is one of MANY articles by respected veterinary medical professionals which should enlighten you and cause you to at least reconsider your irresponsible position as well as the way you are feeding right into the hands of the animal rights activists such as PETA and HSUS, who wish to stop animal ownership altogether. http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf Your statement “There is NO NEED for anyone to be breeding dogs at this time” simply serves their purposes and eventually ends pet ownership and the wonderful bond between human beings and their animals. Why is it only the stupid owners of mutts who are to produce our pets and animal companions from now on? You must not want to be vets for very long. No breeding means no pets!
    Please unsubscribe me from your blog.

    • VetDepot February 17, 2016, 11:58 am

      Hello Anne, thank you for your post. I actually am very interested to continue this discussion, so please don’t unsubscribe from the blog! I am always open to new information, and I actually do agree with you about PETA and HSUS being a bunch of wackos who are EXTREMELY contradictory to their own cause. They are both very pro-kill and basically think that all pets are better off dead than being our companions – as a result, I only agree with a handful of their advocacy stances. As of now, I am offering the widely accepted information in this blog post about spaying and neutering that has been given the most basis and recognition over the years. However, I have in the past been told about theories relating to the information that you have offered. A very trusted source, Dr. Becker, wrote an excellent article where she echoes your sentiment, and even concedes that she herself advocated for spaying/neutering for years, doing the procedures herself on hundreds of animals for years. She claims that over the years, these animals she spayed/neutered all had similar problems with hyperthyroidism, hip dysplasia, heart cancer, adrenal failure, and other issues that she believes to be caused by the lack of hormones and endocrine glands. Her reasoning makes sense, and there is definitely reason to believe that the correlation is due to causation – however, the information is so new and not completely validated that I am hesitant to spread it to the public. Think of the implications that it would bear, to tell the public that it is better to wait and spay/neuter their animals – the same public that already can NOT be trusted to be as responsible as we would like them to be. Especially when it is not confirmed yet that the spaying and neutering is the cause of these disorders – but I feel that sometime soon in the future we will know for sure hopefully. About breeding – I do NOT think that any pet should be breeding right now – unless they are a certified and licensed breeder, not a backyard breeder or a random family who wants to breed their “best dog” because it’s so amazing. No breeding doesn’t mean NO pets, it means LESS pets, which is ideal, obviously. BTW, we aren’t vets, we are an online pet pharmacy and supplies store. Like I said, thank you for your information, I will read the article you posted, and stay in the discussion since you seem to have lots of valuable information to offer! 🙂

      • bobbi February 24, 2016, 6:26 am

        There may be a correlation to unwanted illness in fixed pets. Not proven. The correlation between pyometra and testicular cancer however, has been well documented in unfixed dogs. The huge population of homeless pets makes this a necessity regardless of unwanted side outcomes. The cons of spay/neuter do not come close to the cons of too many pets being put to sleep, or worse, slowly dying from living on the streets and being adopted irresponsibly to people that don’t care for their veterinary needs. Please do not advocate no-kill fairy tails, people in the industry know the difference between no-kill feel good propaganda that beings in lots of money, but in actuality is really slow-kill as the pets are just given away to prove they were not euthanized. The dogs and cats we take in have rotted mouths, bladder stones, heartworm, an array of agonizing conditions, because the owner that gives up the pet got it at a free adoption event, or will not spend money on vet care when its easier to dump the pet. PETA, has a global perspective, and you should see their record on the bigger picture such as factory farming, circus abuse, wool industry abuse, fur farming, etc. before defaming their work. Yes, they know what homes are out there in their rural shelters, the same homes that dumped the heartworm positive, flea and tick infested aggressive dog in their shelter to begin with. Are you taking that dog? I thought not. Better to humanly put it out of its misery. First hand info, not opinion!

        • VetDepot February 24, 2016, 2:19 pm

          Hey Bobbi, you addressed a lot in your comments, and I agree with about half of what you said. LOL I agree about your points of the necessity of spaying/neutering because you’re right – there IS no definitive evidence or proof yet to illustrate the correlation of spaying/neutering to future complicationsm, but there IS overwhelming proof that NOT spaying/neutering causes several different cancers/infections. I also agree that the public is NOT responsible enough to NOT spay/neuter their pets, otherwise we wouldn’t really HAVE spay/neuter to begin with, would we? I feel your frustration, sadness, and anger towards breeders, euthanasia practices, the millions of pets put to sleep each yet, etc. My heart breaks literally every day (several times a day usually) when I am thinking about/writing about/reading about what goes on in shelters concerning the subject. I also volunteered at a supposedly “no kill” shelter for over a year, and they absolutely DID kill pets for absurd and arbitrary reasons. I have facilitated the rescue of over a dozen animals (mostly pitbulls) in the past year that were on the kill list, and I have worked with several rescue nonprofits, shelters, volunteers, and other organizations as well.

          Where I lost you though is where you are saying the idea of “No Kill” is a fairy tale – I do not believe this to be the case. The only reason why it SEEMS unattainable, is because there has been such an overwhelming opposition to No Kill initiatives from its very inception. PETA is very contradictory in its view of animals, since it is trying to end abuse and exploitation of animals, but when it comes to PETS, they believe they should all just be euthanized. Kind of problematic and doesn’t make sense to me, though they may in fact have a view of the “larger picture” I do NOT agree with their killing of animals from their OWN SHELTER especially. PETA, Humane Society of the United States, and other esteemed organizations have spoken against No Kill for so many years because they are simply unwilling to change their current model – which is based on apathy, helplessness, and blame. Blaming the public has NOT worked for the last few decades in terms of increasing spay/neuter among the population, let alone controlling the population at all. Furthermore, the current model of killing animals by the millions has not really accomplished anything or even MADE A DENT in the overall homeless pet population. Also, I am unsure what you mean about “lots of money” being involved in the No Kill movement, seeing as the majority (if not all) of the No Kill initiatives are either paid for by donations, done for free by volunteers, ran by volunteers, etc. Where is the money being made? Actually, based on many other shelters that have gone no-kill, it has been found that money is SAVED with these initiatives, as opposed to paying people to kill animals/dispose of them/render them/etc.

          I think you are generalizing your whole “slow kill” argument based on a few cases where animals were saved and then dumped other places. While this is definitely a possibility and a reality, I think that saving a hundred animals from the euth-list and having 90% of them have a success story is WAY better than all of them just being put down with absolutely no chance. People always say the whole “There are things worse than death” argument, but I honestly believe that even if an animal’s “rescue” ends up being horrible and resulting in neglect/abuse/etc. at least there is still a CHANCE for them to be rescued and rehabilitated in order to enjoy the rest of their life. Obviously I am not condoning the abuse/neglect of rescue animals WHATSOEVER, but dogs have an extremely strong will to live as evidenced by the many cases of survivors of hoarding cases/abuse/neglect/torture/etc. Would it be acceptable for us to think that euthanizing foster children is a good idea based on the fact that they *MAY* end up in an abusive home? I think not.

  • Sandra jones February 23, 2016, 12:12 pm

    Well well vet depot, i think you handled that hot headed blogger very well. Her hot headed, all or nothing, closed minded response to your informative article is the reason why we have such ignorant people supporting non spay and NEUTUR. She just was perfect proof of ignorance and the animals suffer because of her way of thinking.
    Great article! I whole heartedly agree…

    • VetDepot February 24, 2016, 1:55 pm

      Thanks, I know when it comes to animals, people are EXTREMELY PASSIONATE (including me) and sometimes let their emotional responses get the best of them. I am just here to have a discussion, and I welcome information from all angles (unless it is completely baseless and has no merit whatsoever). Unfortunately a lot of people leave their animals’ reproductive organs in tact NOT because they think spaying/neutering is linked to future health complications, but they think they are “taking away” their pet’s “right to reproduce” or compromising their pet’s “masculinity/femininity” (as if a dog/cat has gender expression LOL).

  • Mike February 23, 2016, 12:38 pm

    This Anne Carson who just left a comment. What a total and complete idiot. I don’t think she is a bad person she just doesn’t get it. At all. Anne, go educate yourself on this subject before going to the trouble of bashing things like this. Go spend time at the shelter and learn how it works. Go every morning for a week and you will start to see why there is somebody spraying out kennels every morning, why the dog you saw yesterday is not in the same kennel today, what that long line of people bringing dogs in the front of the building are, what the trucks pulling into the side yard are and what that guy in the lab coat is pushing out the back door. When you get in there every day, maybe a dog will catch your attention on one of your hearts more “vulnerable days” and maybe then you will start to undertand the desperation we that know are in. You will start to see that dozens of dogs are euthenized every single night when the day ends and you will start to grasp the number of senseless deaths. Be honest with yourself, do you really understand how many dogs and cars are being killed every day because of overcrowding? No, you obviously don’t or would not be saying these things. We ALL need to encourage people to spay and neuter. Our pets will not go extinct. Don’t be an idiot. Go to your shelter and learn before you open your dumb ass again.

  • Sarhely Morales February 23, 2016, 2:06 pm

    I completely agree with spaying and neutering, however, I have been doing research and have seen several articles that discourage early spay and neuter with larger dogs. Many people have expressed their opinion and experience that it is best to spay around 7 months of age. What is your opinion? Or any thoughts?

    • VetDepot February 24, 2016, 1:52 pm

      Hey, thanks for your input! Yeah, I have also heard that too…I feel like there is probably some middle ground in this situation – spaying and neutering is what SHOULD be done, but perhaps somewhere around either the year mark or a few months before (7 or 8 months). I can’t say that with the utmost confidence though, because I do not know the age at which a dog/cat’s hormones are properly proliferated into their system and being released by the corresponding glands NOR do I know if removing said glands HALT the production of the hormones or if the hormones are still in the bloodstream indefinitely? I will say though that our society is NOT responsible enough (obviously) to NOT spay and neuter their pets, so it should be done regardless…BUT, that being said, perhaps there should be less invasive techniques that achieve the same goal of sterilization without removing the ENTIRE gland/organ – such as a vasectomy-esque procedure for males and a “tube tying” procedure for females.

  • Bobbi February 24, 2016, 6:13 am

    The above comments against spay/neuter are written by fools that have never been in the euthanasia room of any public shelter. Over 15 million pets are euthanized annually due to lack of homes. There will never be a shortage of dogs. people adopt them irresponsibly, when they have no means to care, train, and vet them. They dump them at shelters and rescue when it becomes too much work or expense. Public shelters don’t screen adopters, so many many pets are adopted into worse homes then they came from before they ended up in a kill shelter. Breeders only care about money, so they sell indiscriminately to anyone that can afford the initial out lay. Opinion? No! I’ve run an ethical rescue for 20 years and have well over one hundred weekly calls from people trying to unload the mistakes they bought or adopted. The only solution left is mandatory spay/neuter. People are not responsible enough to prevent more unwanted pets. And let’s just add, the people preserving their dogs reproductive tracts should be I the vet’s office when the inevitable pyometra comes in, a female dog dying in agony when its uterus is infected and about to rupture.

  • Rockford Johnson August 15, 2016, 9:56 am

    I learned a lot about spaying and neutering by reading this article. I really like how you explained that “after the removal of the sexual organs and glands, the hormones produced by those organs are not being created anymore, and they are therefore not messing with the animal’s personality.” I have never had a pet before but it is cool to know that spaying neutering a pet will help to control and manage their behavior.

    • VetDepot August 15, 2016, 12:15 pm

      Awesome, yeah a lot of people don’t know that! Many people cannot train their dogs effectively or get them to stop running away/escaping from the house because they are not spayed/neutered yet! The hormones can do crazy things to their systems, that’s for sure!

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