You’ve heard that spaying or neutering your puppy or kitten is a good idea. But is it really necessary?
Truth is, there are many more benefits than you might think. We’ll cover the impact this common procedure can have on the pet population, and how it can keep your furry friend healthy and prevent future medical expenses.
We get it though: The thought of putting your four-legged friend through any kind of surgery can still make you get butterflies in your stomach.
We sat down for a Zoom chat to get an expert’s perspective from Dr. Aleisha Swartz. She works with the Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) program run by the Humane Society of the United States (one of Lemonade’s Giveback partners!).
Maybe you’re busy, so here’s the TL;DR of spaying and neutering:
- It can help keep your furry friend healthy in the long term
- Spaying and neutering cats and dogs helps manage the number of stray animals
- Getting your pet spayed or neutered when they’re young is a cheaper and simpler procedure
- Modern meds and techniques make this common procedure very safe
- If you still have questions or concerns, talk to your vet!
Now let’s dive in and see what Dr. Swartz had to say.
Why is spaying and neutering an important part of pet ownership?
Dr. Schwartz: Population control is a big consideration. In my 20 years as a vet, shelters have significantly reduced the number of pets euthanized each year. A lot of that is attributed to spay and neuter.
While there’s a valuable place in society for free-roaming animals, too many can lead to problems. Not many people enjoy cats roaming on their porch. In some communities, free roaming dogs can be a safety hazard too.
Why is spaying and neutering important for your cat?
Cats who aren’t spayed or neutered do not make good roommates. If male cats aren’t neutered they start to spray urine, which has a strong, pungent odor. This leads to people keeping them outside, which can lead to cat fighting.
Female cats who aren’t spayed go in and out of heat until they’re spayed or have a litter of kittens. You’ll be up at night listening to their cries.
Why is spaying and neutering important for your dog?
If we neuter male dogs young enough, we can sometimes alleviate their desire to urinate on everything. Conducting the procedure while your pup is young can also eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and prostatitis—inflammation of the prostate.
Spaying female dogs before they go into heat can reduce the risk of breast cancer—which otherwise is quite common—to almost zero.
How can spaying/neutering your four-legged friend benefit you?
Surgeries on adult dogs are not only harder and higher risk for the pet, but also significantly more expensive. With an infection of the uterus, the [spaying] procedure can cost at least three times more. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is definitely true in those cases.
What prevents some pet parents from getting their pets spayed or neutered?
A big misconception is that the procedure makes your pet overweight. Truth is, it just changes their metabolism. To prevent pet obesity, a simple fix is to adjust how much food they’re eating.
A study by the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition shows that by making spay and neuter procedures easily accessible—both physically and financially—people are more likely to take advantage of it.
I think the next frontier is based on relationships. Since people consider their pets to be family, [vets] have to build trust with them. What I’ve found in communities with barriers to care [is that] if you build a relationship early, people will trust you enough to give their dog surgery.
What should people know before getting their pet spayed or neutered?
It’s very important to validate their feelings. Yes, we are talking about general anesthesia and major surgery. The good news is that it’s the most common medical procedure in animal welfare, so we have modern medications and techniques to make it a very safe procedure.