Thousands of dogs and cats are euthanised daily due to over-population of these animals, caused by irresponsible and unchecked breeding. Simply put, neutering saves lives. There are far too many dogs and cats in the world and nowhere near enough homes. Each year millions and millions of pets are killed in shelters and pounds and across the world, when their time is up for finding a home. On top of this there are many more animals dumped on the side of the road and left to die, when they are no longer wanted.
Those who do not neuter their animals often cite various misconceptions for their opposition to sterilisation. Here we look at just a few of the most common:
Myth: Female dogs and cats should have at least one litter before having them spayed.
There is no medical evidence to justify allowing a dog or cat to have a litter before spaying. Many years ago, it was believed that an animal should have a litter to help her mature, but this is no longer believed to be true. Medical evidence actually indicates the exact opposite. Spaying female dogs and cats before their first heat actually significantly helps reduce the possibility of the dog developing uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the threat of mammary cancer, which usually spreads to the lungs. Spaying also helps prevent uterine infections, which can prove fatal and are common in unsprayed female dogs. A very small percentage of female dogs that are spay develop urinary incontinence. For male dogs the incidence of prostate cancer is greatly reduced as is testicular cancers and perineal hernias later in life. By neutering an animal it will live a healthier and longer life.
Cats can become reproductively active as young as four months and for dogs it is usually around 6 months, although is very dependent on the size of the animal and the breeding. And by the time an animal shows signs of having her first heat cycle, she will already have been fertile and able to get pregnant for a short time. In any event it is irresponsible to let such a young animal become pregnant as she is not fully developed herself or ready to be a mother.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has endorsed the practice of Early Age Neutering, stating that the animals recover more quickly from surgery when they are young and it is better to neuter when around 2 months old (weight and size dependent), however most vets tend to still wait until the animal is around 5 or 6 months. Unfortunately many vets in Bulgaria still insist on waiting until the dog is 8 months or older before neutering, by which time they can already have had or fathered a litter, possibly two.
Spaying can be done if the dog or cat is pregnant but does carry higher risks and of course, means aborting the offspring. However, this and the extra risk to the female animal, have to be weighed against the odds of the puppies surviving and going on to lead a happy and healthy life.
Myth: Dogs or Cats will mourn the loss of their reproductive capabilities
Completely untrue. Dogs and cats breed purely to ensure the survival of their species. They nurse their young for a few weeks, teach them rules and limitations and how to survive and then leave them to go off and fend for themselves. Male dogs and cats hardly even recognise their young as their own. Dogs and cats do not care for their young for years and have hopes and aspirations for them as humans do.
Myth: Neutering is interfering with nature
Humans interfered with nature when we domesticated dogs and cats thousands and thousands of years ago and in doing so and breeding we have helped create this problem. Also euthanising millions of animals a year in shelters and pounds due to a lack of homes is definitely unnatural.
Myth: Animals will get fat once they have been neutered
Neutering can reduce an animal’s metabolism however, adjustments can easily be made in their diets to compensate for this and they will only gain weight if they are not getting enough exercise.
Myth: The dog or cat’s behaviour will change
The only changes you should see in your cat and dog after neutering are positive ones. Male cats tend to not spray to mark their territory as much (depending on how old they are when neutered), neutered dogs and cats tend to fight less and go wander-abouts less as not searching for a mate. Some people refuse to have their dog neutered as they think the dog will no longer be a good guard dog. Sterilising a dog should not affect its natural instinct to want to protect its home and family. Neutering should not change an animal’s basic personality, that is more down to genetics and environment than sex hormones. However, un-neutered male dogs experience frustration that can lead to aggression if they cannot mate and unsprayed females attract attention from males every 6 months, when they are in season and can cry incessantly. A neutered animal should be a better behaved one, less dominant, fight less and generally be more affectionate.
Myth: Neutering surgery is risky
Any surgery carries with it certain risks, but the overall incidence of complications, so long as the operation is performed by a competent vet and in sterilise conditions, is very low. Spay-castration surgeries are the most common surgeries performed by vets. These types of operations are safe and usually very quick. Most animals are awake and alert, walking around within a few hours of the surgery.
Myth: Neutering is painful to the dog or cat.
If done properly the operation should be carried out under general anaesthetic by a qualified vet. After the surgery the animal will feel some discomfort but most return to their normal activity after 24 to 48 hours. If required pain medication can be administered.
Myth: There is no need to neuter the males as they do not have babies
Absolute rubbish, dogs and cats do not get pregnant by immaculate conception. The male plays just as much a role in producing litters as the female.
Myth: My dog is so special or is a pure breed so I want a puppy from her
There is no guarantee that your dog’s puppies will turn out like your own dog. Even breeders cannot guarantee this. And in any case there are thousands and thousands of lovely dogs sat in pounds and shelters, waiting for a home. These are also special and deserve a home. And there are many pure bred animals ending up in shelters, not just mixed breeds.
Myth: I will find good homes for all the puppies
While this may be true, although not always an easy task, you cannot be sure that the people who take a puppy from your litter, will care and look after that animal for its entire life. These puppies may very well end up in a shelter, like thousands of others, mostly likely facing euthanasia. With so many unwanted animals in the world and shelters full to bursting, it is irresponsible to breed. For every puppy that is bred and taken to a home, a shelter animal misses out on a home and likely dies.
Myth: Neutering is expensive.
This of course completely depends on the country the sterilisation is carried out in and the veterinary surgeon that performs the operation. In Bulgaria the usual cost to sterilise a male dog is around 40 to 50 levs and for a female dog, spaying costs around 80 levs. There are a number of places in Bulgaria that offer free neutering. And the cost of treating possible illnesses more prevalent in un-sterilised dogs, far outweighs the small upfront cost of neutering.