Each year 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in the nation’s shelters because there simply aren’t enough resources to house and care for these animals until forever homes become available.
To raise awareness of this issue and to hopefully decrease the numbers of feral and stray animals breeding in the wild, February has been designated Spay-Neuter Awareness Month. The goal of the program is twofold—first, to encourage pet owners to spay and neuter their pets, and second, to highlight the many health and community benefits that spaying/neutering provides.
Here are five things you may not know about spaying/neutering your pet:
1. It prevents certain cancers.
Spaying a female dog before she enters her first heat can confer some important health benefits. First, it eliminates the risk for uterine infections and cancers. Second, it greatly reduces the risk for the development of malignant breast tumors, which can be very aggressive, proving fatal in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Neutering in male animals eliminates the chances for testicular cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of prostate problems and perianal tumors.
2. Neutering keeps males from roaming.
The mating drive in un-fixed domestic animals is strong. Dogs have been known to chew through or tunnel below fencing to go in search of a mate. And male dogs and cats can cover a surprising amount of territory when searching for a mate. Neutering your male dog or cat reduces the chances he’ll become lost, be injured or killed in a road accident, fight with rival males, or sire unwanted litters.
3. It promotes healthy communities.
Overpopulation of stray domestic animals can place undo stress on communities. Roaming animals can become traffic hazards, un-neutered feral dogs may become aggressive to humans and other pets, and if unchecked, stray cats can over-hunt a community’s vital bird species nearly to extinction. By reducing the number of unplanned litters, we can reduce the impact of such far-reaching effects.
4. Spayed and neutered pets live longer.
Spay/neuter procedures have shown one of their greatest benefits in improving the longevity of our beloved pets. Male cats tend to benefit the most, with a 62% increase in life expectancy over their non-neutered counterparts. Spayed female cats fare almost as well, showing a 42% increase in life expectancy over their non-spayed counterparts. For dogs, the numbers are still impressive—with male dogs seeing an 18% longer life expectancy and female dogs seeing a 24% longer life expectancy when fixed.
5. It can save you money later.
In the US, the cost for a spay or neuter procedure typically ranges between $50 and $150 (spaying is more surgically complex and incurs a cost at the higher end of that range). These expenses pale, however, when compared with the costs of raising a litter, or with the expenses of veterinary care if your pet becomes ill or injured. By spaying or neutering your pet early, you can save the worry and financial stress of dealing with more challenging problems later.
Editor’s Note: It’s important to remember, shelter pets are in need of forever homes year-round. Here are tips and considerations to help guide you in adopting a shelter pet.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.