Responsible pet ownership begins with spaying and neutering

Posted on Jan 27 2020 in Pets
Photo of dog with cone around neck

Rural residents need little convincing there’s an animal overpopulation problem. Beyond the city and county shelters, they are the ones who often must deal with the unexpected and unwanted litters dumped along country roads in the night by irresponsible pet owners.

“A good home in the country” is not what awaits most abandoned kittens and puppies.

February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter cats and dogs are euthanized. Though the number has been declining, obviously more pet owners need to understand the costs of NOT fixing their pets.

Health benefits

Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors in female cats and dogs.

A neutered male will be less susceptible to testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Male cats and dogs that have not been neutered have a strong desire to roam in search of mates, making them more likely to get hit by a car and fight with other males.

Behavioral benefits

Spaying and neutering early stops many unwanted behaviors in both cats and dogs. A neutered or spayed pet will be less distracted, and more easily trained.

While cycles vary, female cats usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. Breeding season is generally March through September but can run as long as February to December. To attract mates, they’ll yowl and frequently urinate — sometimes all over the house. Female dogs can also become aggressive during their heat cycles.

Messy heat cycles for both cats and dogs will also attract stray and potentially aggressive male animals to your home. 

Left unneutered, male cats and dogs will mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine and be more aggressive. A neutered dog will be less likely to make inappropriate sexual approaches toward people and objects.

Community benefits

Millions of tax dollars are spent every year to care for unwanted, abandoned and neglected animals. By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis.

Determine the best time to spay or neuter your kitten or puppy with your veterinarian. Female cats can have their first heat as early as 4 months old and dogs as early as 5-6 months old. If they can come into heat, they can get pregnant.

It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as 8 weeks old to be spayed or neutered. The traditional age for fixing a dog is 6-9 months.

Taking away your pet’s desire to breed does not take away its beloved personality. A fixed pet will be more contented and safe, and live a longer, happier life. And it will not accidentally contribute to the heartbreaking problem of overpopulation.