Dr. Jennifer Challenger DVM, MPH

You can improve your pet’s life tremendously, and at that same time, help your community simply by having your pet spayed or neutered. There are many important reasons for having this procedure performed on your pet. In addition to improved health and behavior, you will be doing your part to reduce animal overpopulation. Millions of unwanted animals are put to sleep each year because good homes are limited, and many pets in shelters simply cannot be adopted. There are also several other extremely important reasons why spaying or neutering your pet is a positively good decision.

Spaying your female pet prevents the signs of heat that can attract a lot of unwanted male dogs or cats to your house, not to mention the inevitable blood stains on your carpet, an unpleasant side effect of the heat cycle. It also greatly reduces the chance of developing breast tumors and eliminates the development of cystic ovaries and life-threatening uterine infections. All of these health problems occur in a significant number of older, intact female pets. Once the procedure is performed, you no longer have to worry about surprise pregnancies and a house full of unwanted puppies or kittens.

Neutering your male pet makes him easier to train, because he will focus more on you, instead of exercising his innate desire to roam and potentially get lost or hurt. Even more importantly, neutering eliminates undesirable sexual behavior and prevents the marking of territory with urine (both indoors and outdoors) and decreases the odor of a tom cat’s urine in the litter box.

There are also several significant health advantages to neutering your male pets. The incidence of prostate tumors, for example, is greatly diminished and testicular disease is eliminated. Research has shown that prostatic hypertrophy, prostatitis and testicular cancer occur in more than 85 percent of male pets that have not been neutered.

Surgery is recommended as early as three months of age because of the small size of the reproductive tract, but it can be performed on older animals, as well. It is important that older animals undergo the procedure before they suffer any of the repercussions that can occur if they have not been spayed or neutered. Surgery is performed painlessly while your pet is under general anesthesia.

Spaying or neutering is a caring and humane decision that you can make for your pet. It is, quite simply, the easiest way you can help your pet live a longer and healthier life, so the companionship you enjoy will endure for years to come.