|One healthy, adoptable animal is put down every 10 seconds|
|Thursday, March 06, 2014 9:59 PM|
BY STEPHANIE GROVES
DELPHOS — There are many, many good reasons for pet parents to spay or neuter their dog or cat. It is a proven way to reduce overpopulation, ensuring that every pet has a family to love them and reduces breeding-related health risks. According to The Humane Society, each year in the U.S. there are 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs — about one every 10 seconds — put down. Close to 16,000 cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters each day and only half find lifelong homes.
The Delphos Animal Hospital’s Dr. Bonnie Jones says there are many health benefits to spaying and neutering for both male and female pets.
“Pets that are sterilized live 40 percent longer,” Jones said.
An ovariohysterectomy (spay) is the surgical removal of the female reproductive organs which includes the two ovaries, the uterine horns and the body of the uterus. A castration (neuter) is the surgical removal of the testicles.
She advises pet parents not to let their pet go into a single heat or hit sexual maturity.
“With females, every heat cycle stimulates them for malignant breast cancers and life- threatening uterine infections (pyometra),” Jones explained. Females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier.
“With younger pet patients, the anesthetic risk is less,” Jones said. “Those that are 7-10 years old will take much longer to bounce back after surgery.”
It is much easier on a pet to be spayed before going through a heat cycle since the reproductive tract is much smaller.
“Unneutered middle aged dogs are prone to malignant tumors around their anus, prostate cancer and cancer of the testicles,” Jones said. “It feminizes them; they grow breasts and the pigment of their abdomen skin darkens.”
She said aggressive behavior increases with both males and females that are not sterilized and the violent behavior may be towards other pets or towards people. The behavior is typically seen when pets reach sexual maturity. If the pet is older and already becoming aggressive, castration is likely to help. In male cats, aggression is usually seen as fighting, with screeches and howls.
“The most likely patient to get hit by a car is an unneutered male cat or dog,” Jones said.
Jones said with dogs, both males and females exhibit territorial urine-marking behaviors.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the behavior is a normal form of communication and the urine marks contain a dog’s information such as the identity, the sex and the reproductive status of the marker. Unneutered males are more likely to urine mark, especially in the presence of females or rival males.
Unspayed females will mark, especially prior to coming into and during heat cycles, to advertise their availability.
However, even spayed females sometimes urine mark. Unneutered male cats spray and mark furniture and walls, which creates a very pungent odor.
“Neutering will not change a pet’s personality,” Jones said. “Pet’s learn how to be ‘a good citizen’ during their social age, which is 2-8 weeks of age for cats and 9 weeks to 4 months for dogs.”
She explained after neutering, pet’s personalities should get better, roaming will decrease and their love for the pet parent increases.
Sterilization does not lead to a pet becoming fat and lazy. She said pet parents are in control of the food dish.
“After sterilization, a pet’s metabolism slows by about 25 percent,” Jones emphasized. “Feed them 25 percent less. If they continue to be fed the same amounts of food and do not get any exercise, they will get fatter.”
Additionally, Jones spoke on the responsibilities and effects of breeding animals and said there are many points to consider before perpetuating a litter of offspring.
“Breeding should be done to improve the breed’s genetics, not contribute to its defects,” Jones reasoned. “Pet owners who choose to breed are directly responsible for every member of the litter its entire lifespan.”
She said owners contemplating breeding a pet should visit an overcrowded rescue facility to fully appreciate the end results of the “miracle of birth” and “indiscriminate or casual pet breeding”. The best pet breeders have a thorough education about acceptable breeds, health standards and the breeding process.
Another advantage of spaying and neutering pets is the benefit it brings to the community; stray animals can become a nuisance and a public health hazard and the capture and destruction of unwanted animals costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
Owners should examine all the advantages spaying or neutering a pet brings to the big picture, as well as to their pet’s innocent, furry lives; it can add years to a pet’s life, meaning lots of extra playing, treat-sharing and cuddling on the couch in the future.