3 Facts and Myths About Spaying and Neutering Dogs
One of the most important decisions to make when it comes to pet ownership is whether or not to have your dog spayed or neutered.
In order to help you decide, here are the three most common myths associated with this procedure, followed by three facts that every dog lover should know before making this important choice.
MYTH: Spaying or neutering my dog will make them fat and lazy.
Dog obesity is a serious health concern. As many as 56% of our pet canines are overweight or obese which makes them at greater risk for several debilitating conditions including diabetes, hypertension and even cancer.
The most important factors that determine the weight and fitness of our pets are feeding a healthy diet that includes high quality dog food and plenty of exercise.
While it is true that sterilization can have an impact on weight, the effects are minimal and contained to the first two years after surgery. Moreover, reasonable portions of food and regular activity is enough to easily keep your dog in excellent condition.
MYTH: I can’t afford to have my dog sterilized.
Depending on the veterinarian you use to have your pet spayed or neutered, the average cost is between $50 and $200.
Meanwhile, the cost of raising a litter of puppies including recommended vaccinations prior to adoption age can easily cost in excess of $1000. In terms of cost, spay or neuter is by far the less expensive route.
If you are lucky enough to adopt your canine companion from a shelter, the cost of sterilization is generally included in the reasonable adoptions fees you will pay to take your little guy home. By working with local vets, shelters and rescue organizations help to keep sterilization costs low for pets looking to be rehomed.
If you are looking for a low cost spay and neuter program in your area, check out this tool offered by the ASPCA. You can find a free or low-cost clinic near you with just a few clicks of the mouse!
MYTH: My dog won’t forgive me for taking away his “manhood.”
Masculinity and the cultural stories that surround it are a human invention. Assuming that our pets are also bound to these kinds of myths is an act of “anthropomorphism.” This term means taking human traits and projecting them onto our animal friends.
In fact, your dog is going to be concerned about the same things after his procedure as he was before it. He will be thinking: What’s for dinner? That smells good! Where is that cat? Let’s play fetch!
It is your responsibility to make good choices for your pet, and as we will see, unless you have a compelling reason to breed your dog, spay and neutering is the responsible choice.
FACT: Spay and neuter programs effectively reduce pet overpopulation.
Pet overpopulation is a serious concern across the United States with as many as 3.3 million dogs surrendered annually, 670,000 of whom will be euthanized. Animals rescued from the street are often riddled with health problems, injuries, and in some cases the irreparable psychological scars of abuse and neglect. It is no cartoon life for these abandoned canines.
Despite owner’s best efforts, intact dogs have a way of finding each other and accidental pregnancies are common. The only way to completely prevent unwanted puppies is sterilization.
Even if you responsibly immunize and provide for your puppies until you successfully rehome each and every one of them, you are still contributing to pet overpopulation. Each puppy you place represents one unwanted puppy sitting in a shelter waiting for their forever home.
The ASPCA, backed by extensive longitudinal data, has made a clear case that voluntary spay and neuter programs that include making the procedure affordable for those in lower income levels reduces both shelter intakes and rates of euthanasia.
FACT: Dogs that are sterilized, on average, live longer lives with fewer injuries.
One surprising fact about altering your dog is that it may help them live a longer, healthier life. In fact, research has shown that sterilized dogs live an average of 1.5 years longer than their intact counterparts!
According to the study, although altered dogs have an increased risk of certain types of cancer, they have a much lower risk of dying from traumatic injury and infection. Intact animals are more likely to take risks, get in fights, and roam (including into traffic).
In addition, sexual hormones may indeed suppress certain immune system functions, giving altered dogs a slight health advantage over the long haul.
FACT: Spaying and neutering by the onset of sexual maturity avoids several problem behaviors.
When a dog reaches sexual maturity it can coincide with the emergence of several problematic behaviors that are associated with this stage of development. Spaying or neutering before these behaviors start to show is often the easiest way to avoid these pesky behaviors:
Territorial Marking: If you have ever had a dog that pees in the house as a way to mark territory, you already know it is extremely difficult to fix once it starts.
Humping: While this unsightly behavior sometimes happens even in neutered dogs, it is much more common when they are left intact. Considered an act of dominance, this kind of behavior rarely helps your dog make friends with other canines.
Roaming: Intact dogs are much more prone to roaming which exposes them to a variety of dangers such as traffic, getting lost, or being subject to abuse. In fact, this behavior trait is one of the key factors in why intact dogs have such drastically higher rates of traumatic injuries.
Aggression: Both male and female dogs are likely to be more aggressive as a result of sexual hormones. Territorial instincts and a stronger sense of pack order may be at the root of this phenomenon.
In fact, many owners surrender their dog to the shelter after letting them stay intact until they begin to manifest one or more of these behavioral problems. It is unfair to set our pets up to fail, then make them pay the ultimate price for a predictable and preventable behavioral issue – abandonment and possible euthanasia.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog – It’s the Right Choice!
When people are asked why they have not spayed or neutered their dog, the answer is usually a variation of one of the three myths we covered in this article. We hope that getting the facts out there about this safe procedure will help people make the responsible choice for their pets.