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The Truth Behind Spaying and Neutering Myths
Myth:Female dogs and cats should have at least one litter before having them spayed. Truth:There is no medical evidence to justify allowing a dog or cat to have a litter before spaying. In fact, spaying female dogs and cats eliminates the possibility of developing uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the threat of mammary cancer.
Myth:Animals become less active and overweight as a result of spaying or neutering.
Truth:As any animal matures, it is necessary for human guardians to adjust dietary intake to compensate for more sedentary lifestyles. Animals become overweight only when they are fed too much and not exercised properly.
Myth:Behavior is adversely affected by sterilization.
Truth: The only changes in dog and cat behavior after spaying or neutering are positive changes. Male cats tend to reduce territorial spraying, depending on their age at neutering. Neutered dogs and cats fight less, resulting in fewer bite and scratch wounds and lessening the spread of contagious diseases. Male dogs and cats tend to stay home more after neutering because they no longer wander in search of a mate.
Myth: Spaying and neutering is painful to my dog or cat.
Truth:Surgical sterilization is performed under general anesthesia by a doctor of veterinary medicine. The procedure itself is not felt by the patient. There may be mild discomfort after the surgery, but most animals return to normal activity within 24 to 72 hours. The minimal discomfort experienced by dogs and cats that are spayed or neutered can be lessened with post-operative pain medications and is well worth the endless suffering that is prevented by eliminating homeless puppies and kittens.
Myth: Children should be allowed to witness the miracle of birth. Truth: Most dogs and cats have their litters at night in quiet, dark places far out of anyone's sight. Besides, every litter of puppies and kittens born contributes to the thousands of unwanted dogs and cats who die every day across America in our nation's pounds and animal shelters.
Myth: Spaying and neutering are expensive.
Truth: The cost of sterilization varies greatly from one private veterinarian to another. SNAP provides free and reduced-cost sterilization for animals through regular clinic programs and specially funded projects throughout Texas.
Health Benefits of Spaying and Neutering
Dogs and cats have a greatly improved chance of long life, good health, and contentment if they are sterilized. The most reliable cure for numerous health and behavior problems is sterilization. It also acts as a powerful preventative.
Male Cats As with unneutered male dogs, an urge to breed increases the chances that a male cat will slip out of the house in search of a mate and suffer fight wounds and other injuries. By far, the most serious cat fights occur between unneutered males. The resulting wounds frequently develop into abscesses that must be surgically drained and treated with antibiotics. Worse, even a single bite can transmit deadly diseases - most often, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) or Feline Leukemia (FeLV) - from one cat to another. FIV, for which no vaccine or cure currently exists, causes fatal failure of the immune system.
Female Dogs and Cats Spaying removes the ovaries and uterus from female animals and so eliminates the possibility of ovarian and uterine infection or cancer. Spaying also prevents bacterial infection of the uterus (pyometra) which commonly afflicts older unspayed dogs and cats. As pyometra advances, bacterial poisons enter the bloodstream, causing general illness and often kidney failure. If the uterus ruptures, the dog or cat will almost certainly die. Pyometra requires emergency spaying, which may fail to save an animal already severely weakened. The best preventative is to spay dogs and cats while they are young and healthy.
Spaying can also prevent mammary gland tumors, the most common tumor in unspayed female dogs and the third most common in female cats. A high percentage of mammary tumors are malignant: in dogs, nearly 50 percent; in cats, nearly 90 percent. Once a mammary tumor spreads to the lungs or bones, the cancer will be fatal. An unspayed dog is approximately 4 times more likely to develop mammary tumors than a dog spayed after only two heats, 12 times more likely than a dog spayed before her first year (by 6 -8 months of age). An unspayed cat is seven times more likely than a spayed cat to develop mammary tumors.
Further spayed dogs and cats avoid the dangers of giving birth. A birth canal that is overly narrow - due to injury (such as a broken pelvis) or, as in bulldogs, to a breed trait of narrow hips - make giving birth perilous. So does inadequate body size, which can leave a Chihuahua, Toy Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, or other small dog too weak to deliver puppies naturally.
Such disabilities often necessitate a Caesarian section to save the dog or cat's life. When a small dog begins to nurse her puppies, she is also vulnerable to eclampsia, in which blood calcium plummets. Initial symptoms include panting, high fever, and trembling. Unless given an emergency intravenous injection of calcium, the dog will suffer seizures and die.
Male Dogs (Surgical Sterilization) Neutering removes the testicles and so prevents testicular tumors in male dogs. A dog who develops a testicular tumor must be treated before the tumor spreads by the only effective means - neutering. Especially prevalent in older dogs, testicular tumors are the second most common tumor in male dogs. (Some dogs have one or two "undescended" testicles, which remain inside the body; these dogs have a particularly high risk of testicular tumors.) Although only a small percentage of testicular tumors are malignant, even non-cancerous ones can threaten a dog's life. One type of nonmalignant testicular tumor sometimes secretes the hormone estrogen at a toxic level that destroys the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells - a fatal outcome.
Further by eliminating the sexual drive that can cause a dog to bolt from the house or yard, neutering helps protect dogs from injuries and diseases associated with roaming in search of a mate. One study found, in 90 percent of male dogs on the loose, a dog was either hit by a car, harmed by an act of cruelty, or infected with a disease transmitted by another animal. He can also be seriously wounded in a dog fight - always less likely if a dog has been neutered since neutering reduces aggressiveness toward other male dogs.
References 1) Johnston, Shirley D., questions and answers on the effects of surgically neutering dogs and cats, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 198, 1991, pp. 1206 - 1214 2) Griener, Thomas P. et al., Diseases of the rectum and anus. In Ettinger, Stephen J. (Ed.) Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine: Diseases of the Dog and Cat, Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co., 1983, p.1514 3) Voith, Victoria L., Behavioral disorders. In Ettinger, Stephen J. (Ed.), Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine: Diseases of the Dog and Cat, Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co., 1983, p. 218