To Neuter or Not To Neuter?

That is the question!

Myths and facts. Making the decision to spay or neuter a pet is very difficult for some people. There are many myths about these procedures.

Facts. Spaying a female pet and neutering or castrating a male pet are surgical sterilization procedures. They are done to prevent the unwanted birth of animals by removing the reproductive organs. The procedures are done under general anesthesia so your pet does not feel pain or discomfort.
Age. Spaying and neutering are usually done when the animal is at least 6 months old.
Surgery. The surgery takes from 20 to 60 minutes. Your pet likely will spend one night in the hospital for monitoring and rest.
Home care is minimal.

What about pet's sex life? Contrary to many beliefs, it is not unnatural to deprive your pet of a sex life. Animals do no have sex for pleasure but rather to satisfy hormone-induced instincts.

Additional benefits. Besides controlling the birth of unwanted animals, spaying and neutering have many other benefits, both behavioral and health-related.

Behavior. Altered animals are less likely to roam from their home, mark their territory and display aggression toward other animals.

Behavioral Myths. Dogs will remain protective if they are trained to do so, and females will not become overweight and lazy if their food intake is monitored appropriately.

Benefits for boys. More importantly, sterilization decreases the risk of many hormone-related problems. Neutered dogs have fewer prostate problems, fewer tumors around the anus and a decreased incidence of cancer in both testicles and prostate. The odor of the urine in male cats is generally reduced and they also experience fewer abscesses and viral transmission related to roaming.

Benefits for girls. Females also benefit medically from spaying. Having the procedure done before the first heat cycle is most beneficial. The risk of uterine infections (called pyometra) is gone and there are significantly less cases of mammary cancer in both dogs and cats. When spayed before the first heat cycle, the incidence of mammary cancer is less than 1 percent. The incidence then increases with each heat cycle the animal goes through.

Costs vs. benefits. The cost of a spay or neuter is a one-time fee that is relatively small considering the benefits to your pet's health and the prevention of unwanted animals.

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