Spaying and Neutering Your Pet

by Sue Hume, CAS Board Member

September 29, 2019

Whether one is adopting a furever friend or buying a pet, a consideration should be made whether or not to spay or neuter.  Conscientious pet owners who wish to help curb pet overpopulation among other things should spay (females) or neuter (males).  Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100% effective method of birth control for dogs and cats. According to the Humane Society of the US there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year not to mention many who never get in to the “system”.  A USA Today (May 7th, 2013) article cites that pets who live in states with the highest rate of spaying/neutering also live the longest.  Part of the reduced lifespan of unaltered pets can be attributed to their increased need to roam, which leads to fights with other animals, getting struck by cars, getting lost, and other mishaps.


The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has listed reasons to spay or neuter your pet:


  1.  Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life:  Spaying prevents uterine infections and significantly decreases the risk of breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats.  


  1. Spaying your pet before her first heat cycle offers the best protection from these diseases.


  1. Your spayed female won’t go into heat:  While cycles vary, female cats go in to heat 4-5 days every 3 weeks during breeding season.  In an effort to breed, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!  Female dogs will experience vaginal bleeding requiring diapers or confinement.
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male:  Neutering your male prevents testicular cancer as well as enlargement of the prostate gland and certain types of prostatic cancer.
  3. Behavior:  Your neutered pet focuses his/her attention on their human families.  Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering, as can issues with marking and territorial behaviors.
  4. Spaying or neutering will not make your pet fat:  your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you provide exercise and monitor food intake.


  1. Spaying and Neutering is good for the community:  stray animals pose real safety and public health concerns, as well as animal welfare issues.  Spaying and neutering helps reduce the number of animals on the streets.


  1. It is cost effective:  the cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having to care for a litter; treating an unneutered tomcat who gets in a fight with a neighborhood stray; or paying for multiple surgeries for mammary gland tumors—that can also metastasize to the lungs or brain at a very young age.  (I know this because it happened to my rescue!)  


The decision of when to spay or neuter your pet is a discussion to have with your Veterinarian but when all is said and done it is vitally important to spay or neuter.