Let’s FIX These Spay/Neuter Myths
February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Why? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), each year approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). Those numbers in U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 2.6 million in 2011. Pet overpopulation is a world-wide problem with many secondary impacts. Those include environmental pollution, encroachment on native animals, and a lot of unnecessary suffering on the part of the neglected and homeless animals.
This significant decline since 2011 is due to a number of factors. Hard work by shelters to adopt and reunite pets with their families plus their efforts to educate owners and offer low cost and free spay/neuter clinics are just a few. If you’re reading this, we’re probably preaching to the choir, but if your pet is not yet spayed or neutered, we’ve put together this list of reasons why its not just good for the world, it’s also good for you and your pet!
We’re not sure why there isn’t just one word for it. Spaying is for female pets. Neutering is for male pets. There is a lot of confusion about the process. Here are a few reasons you should act today to spay/neuter your beloved fur babies. This decision can make a difference in your home and for the greater good of pets everywhere.
Your Pet’s Health
Spaying or neutering your pet can increase their lifespan. According to USA Today, states that have the highest rate of spaying/neutering their pets live the longest. The report says, “neutered male dogs live 18% longer than unneutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs.” The report goes on to add that in Mississippi, the lowest-ranking state for pet longevity, 44% of the dogs are not neutered or spayed.”
The increased longevity of altered pets could be because of the reduced risk of certain types of cancer. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater chance of developing pyrometra (a fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system.
Female pets who are spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Getting your pets spayed/neutered will not change their fundamental personality, like their protective instinct.
Curb Bad Behavior
According to the Humane Society of the United States getting your pet spayed/neutered can solve many problems. For example, unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine marking than neutered dogs.
In cats the need to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat. By getting your kitty altered by four months old, you can halt this behavior before it is ever a problem. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues.
Other behavioral problems that can be ameliorated by spay/neuter include:
- Roaming, especially when females are “in heat.”
- Aggression: Studies also show that most dog bites involve dogs who are unaltered.
- Excessive barking, mounting and other dominance-related behaviors.
Don’t wait! Behaviors are learned quickly in both cats and dogs. The longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of the surgery having less of an effect because the behavior becomes ingrained.
Save Money & Anguish Down the Road
Some people forgo getting a pet spayed or neutered because it is too expensive. We will get to some great options to help reduce costs in a second, but if we look down the road, we’ll discover there are some long-term costs that could be incurred by an unaltered pet.
The reproductive system cancers and pyometra mentioned above can easily run a pet owner into thousands of dollars in vet bills. When a pet-owner can’t afford them, sadly their only choice can be putting the animal down.
Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive or high-strung. Serious fighting is more common between unaltered pets of the same gender and can incur high veterinary costs. In some counties, pet licenses could also be more expensive as well.
But Doesn’t it Hurt?
We’ve heard a number of people say they just don’t want to put their pet through the pain. The reality is that veterinarians have gotten really good at making these procedures as comfortable and painless as possible. That’s thanks to advances in technology, medication, medical knowledge and experience. The animal will need to refrain from strenuous activity for a week or two after the procedure, but most animals are back to their normal selves within a day or two of the minimally invasive surgery. There is a small chance of complication, as with any procedure, but the likelihood that your pet will suffer is very small.
But I Might Want to Breed Them
Breeding a pet to earn money is a true responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll need a business license, facilities and support to care for a litter and the financial resources to cover vet bills. Not to mention that you should expect some of the behavior problems mentioned above. If you want to become a breeder someday, spay/neuter your pets now and then obtain your breeding animal when you’re ready for the serious responsibility and commitment required.
Help Reduce Pet Homelessness
In the United States alone there are 6-8 million homeless animals going into shelters every year. By getting your pet spayed/neutered you are helping save lives. According to the Humane Society of the United States:
“The number of homeless animals varies by state—in some states there are as many as 300,000 homeless animals euthanized in animal shelters every year. These are not the offspring of homeless “street” animals—these are the puppies and kittens of cherished family pets and even purebreds.
Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100 percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats.”
You Can Afford to Have Your pet Spayed or Neutered
Thanks to shelters, veterinary staff and volunteers across the country, there are so many options for low cost or free spaying/neutering. We have listed a few resources below.
- Nationally: Search SpayUSA by zip code to find options near you.
- Regionally: Animal Related Services in the Puget Sound are listed here.
- Snohomish County: Visit the NOAH Center Shelter. They have great programs!
- Spay/Neuter Pricing
- Female Cats – $45
Male Cats – $25
- Feral/free roaming cats – free with ear tip
- Dogs (under 60 lbs.) – $75
- Dogs (60 lbs. and over) – $95
- Mom’s Last Litter – free (must be signed up through their program)
- Female Cats – $45
- Spay/Neuter Pricing
- Whatcom County: The WeSnip program was created to provide high-quality spay/neuter service to low income pet owners.
- Call your local shelter: Tell them you are looking for low-cost spay/neuter services.
- Ask your veterinarian: They often can recommend reduced fee options or might be able to work out payment arrangements.
- Care Credit offers credit card plans that can be used for veterinary services.
If you’ve been putting off spaying or neutering your pet, February is the perfect time. Many shelters and clinics are offering especially low cost procedures as a way to recognize the problem and increase awareness. Many of them are free on World Spay Day, on February 26 in 2019. Doing it in the winter also means your pet won’t be out of commission during the best weather or while you’re on vacation. Thank you for helping to curb the problems associated with pet overpopulation. It makes a difference in every community and especially in the lives of these lovable animals.