Today I’d like to discuss one of the most controversial subjects in dog ownership: Whether or not to spay or neuter your pet. This article aims to take a completely objective approach and breakdown / analyze the facts about the various health benefits / drawbacks, behavior changes, over population and general community observation. If you just want to short version, jump down to the summary, otherwise, read on!
What is Spay/Neuter and how is it performed?
Most of you already know the answer to the first part of this question. But for those who don’t, spaying is the term used for females and neutering is for males. It’s also been named “fixing”, desexing, castration (for males), and altering. In general terms, it is the process of rendering your animal sterile through the removal of certain sexual organs,namely the testicles for males, and the uterus and ovaries for females. It is a mostly risk free procedure, and your animal will usually return to normal behavior 5 – 7 days after the surgery.
Reasons people DO spay / neuter their pets
The number one reason people Spay and Neuter their pets is because of the current dog overpopulation issue. There are an estimated 6 – 8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year, and more than half of them are being euthanized.
There are however other benefits. In some studies, it’s been estimated that male dogs have an 18% longer life expectancy, 23% for females. This is due to lower rates of certain types of cancer, and reduced urges to roam which can expose them to fights, traffic, and other mishaps.
Other benefit to spaying and neutering is behavioral modification. Neuter males are less likely to marking or spraying with urine. Other behavior problems that can be positively affected by spaying and neutering include roaming, aggression, barking, and other dominance related behaviors.
Lastly, spaying or neutering can, kind of counter intuitively, reduce the cost of owning your pet! Unaltered pets usually cost more to register and also cost more to renew. Additionally, caring for a pet with reproductive cancer or pyometra (uterine infection) can easily run you thousands of dollars.
Reason people DON’T spay / neuter
There are a number of reasons people decide not to spay or neuter their dogs. One of the most common reasons is concern for early development. Sexual organs produce hormones that are crucial to the early development of animals.
Another reason is empathy. A lot of dog owners don’t want to do anything to their pet that they wouldn’t do to themselves.
Expense is another reason a dog owner might feel reluctant to get their dog spayed or neutered. Many dogs come into ownership from the street. And a lot of the families who find these dogs live in impoverished conditions. Because of this reason, it may deter them from getting their dog altered. Or even breed the dog and sell the puppies for more income.
The final reason is the health benefits from keeping a dog intact. This is an interesting reason because most people think that spaying or neutering your dog is more healthy, but once more there are studies that suggest that keeping your dog in tact is more healthy. Leaving your dog intact is more likely to prevent obesity, certain types of cancer, hip dysplasia and knee injuries.
In conclusion, spaying or neutering is the process of rendering your animal sterile, usually through the removal of some of their sexual organs. There are many health benefits including longer life, population control, behavior modification, and lower overall costs. However, there are also reasons for leaving your animal intact including unhampered early development, fairness for your pet, financial options, and once again, health benefits.
I think that a responsible pet owner should analyze the pros and cons of each option. Keeping in mind to include their own limitations and abilities. Statistically, an unaltered pet will require more attention and training then an altered pet.
But this is just my analysis! Tell us what you think on Facebook or twitter!