People often wonder what the benefit is of sterilizing your new puppy or kitten. Is it a necessity? Will there be side effects from the sterilization? Are you doing the best thing for your animal by having them sterilized? When is the best time?
There are many good reasons to sterilize your animals and I will point out a few…
- a spayed female will live a longer, healthier life as spaying her prevents uterine infections and mammary tumours (breast cancer), which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying before the first heat cycle will further reduce the incidence of these diseases and offers the best protection.
- Your spayed female won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female cats usually go into heat for four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house! Female dogs on heat (every 6 months for about 3 weeks) also attract the whole neighborhood’s males to your house!
- Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way. It is also an old wife’s tale that having one litter improves the female’s temperament.
- Neutering (castration) provides major health benefits for your male pet too. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer and enlargement.
- Your male pet won’t want to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
- Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, intact dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems and excessive barking can be avoided by early neutering.
- Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra kilos—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
- It is highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your intact tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
- Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, be the cause of car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
- Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME:
- For small dogs and cats we advise to sterilize at about 6 months of age, this is before their first heat cycle.
- Unfortunately for larger dogs prone to hip dysplasia it is not that easy to give a specific age, recent studies suggest sterilizing only after they have grown at about 12 – 18 months could reduce the prevalence of hip dysplasia. Unfortunately this increases the females chance of getting mammary cancer even after being spayed so a risk assessment is needed for these animals. If your dog is already aggressive at an early age, we would still recommend sterilizing them earlier and not to wait till after a year.
If you would like to consult one of our doctors about when the right time is to sterilize your dog please give us a call.
By sterilizing your animal you are being a responsible pet owner and taking care of your community.
Dr Marike Marais, Dr. Rouxlene Sheridan