By Dr. Colleen Carney
February is Spay and Neuter Awareness month, and we want to share our thoughts with you! Having your dog or cat sterilized provides a number of benefits, not only to your personal pet, but also to the general pet population. First and foremost, spay and neuter prevents the occurrence of unplanned puppy and kitten litters. Every spring, animal rescues see a high influx of animals and often find themselves overwhelmed with surrendered puppies and kittens. Reducing the pet population is the responsibility of all pet owners. Furthermore, studies show spayed and neutered pets tend to have a longer life expectancy.
The spay procedure (removal of the ovaries and uterus) benefits female dogs and cats in a number of ways. First, spaying your pet early (before one or two years of age) significantly decreases the risk for mammary cancer. Dogs spayed before their first heat are protected 99.5% against mammary tumor development and spayed kittens are seven times less likely to get tumors. Additionally, intact females are increasingly prone to pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus, as they age. This disease requires emergency surgical intervention, and can be fatal if the infection spreads to the entire body (ie sepsis).
For males, neutering is beneficial for a number of reasons as well. Most obviously, neutering eliminates any chance your dog or cat will develop testicular tumors. Additionally it limits the risk for some diseases of the prostate. Lastly, neutering has behavioral benefits such as reducing hormone-related aggression, urine marking and desire to roam.
Don’t forget about exotic pets! Some small mammals, like rabbits and rats, also benefit from spay or neuter in many of the same ways as dogs and cats.
The staff at Neffsville is happy to talk with you more about these procedures, how we monitor anesthesia during surgery, pain control and additional options like microchipping and the use of our surgical cutting laser. Together we can determine the best time to spay or neuter your pet, and help you feel confident about your pet’s surgery!