Over 13 million pets are put to death in our nation's animal shelters each year for lack of homes. That is why responsible pet owners make sure that their pets are not contributing to this serious over-population problem. As much as we may want our children to witness the miracle of birth, the price we pay with unwanted puppies and kittens and the added health risks that we must then subject our pet too far overshadows the benefit. Even if you are able to find homes for the entire litter this means an equal number of kittens or puppies in shelters will lose potential homes. If you keep your pet confined, neutering may seem unnecessary. Just the opposite is true. In fact, there are medical and health advantages for the pet through neutering. Spaying or castrating your young, healthy pet will reduce certain infections and cancers that could occur in later life.
SPAYING YOUR FEMALE PET
The technical term for this operation is an ovariohysterectomy. It is an abdominal surgery involving the removal of both ovaries and the uterus. Since everything is removed your pet will no longer "come into heat". Even though this is major surgery with the new, modern gas anesthetics a healthy pet can be anesthetized for the 20-minute operation with minimal risk. Contrary to folklore the surgery is best performed prior to your pet's first heat cycle. Early spaying does not retard emotional development or stunt bone growth. Early neutering will substantially reduce the chance of breast tumors, the most common cancer of the older, unspayed female. These same pets are also plagued by cystic ovaries, false pregnancies, hormonal disorders, and uterine infections.
4-6 months is the optimum age for spaying the female pet. She may need to spend 1 night in the hospital to fully recover from the effects of the anesthetic. After she gets home you will need to keep her as quiet as possible for the next week. Usually house confinement is sufficient. If she becomes feverish, lethargic, loses her appetite or bites at the incision please bring her back to the hospital for a check-up. Complications after a hysterectomy are very rare.
ALTERING YOUR MALE PET
The technical term for this operation is castration. An incision is made on or near the scrotum and the testicles are removed. This is more than a vasectomy, although still considered minor surgery. The anesthetic risk for a young, healthy pet is minimal. If the surgery is done before the pet reaches sexual maturity certain undesirable sexual behavior traits may be avoided (humping, spraying, fighting, etc.). Prostate gland infections or cancer and testicular tumors are essentially prevented through castration. Roaming behavior (to establish a territory or find a mate) is greatly reduced. In general the animal becomes a much better pet.
4-6 months is the optimum age for castrating the male pet. He may need to spend 1 night in the hospital to fully recover from the effects of the anesthetic. After he gets home you will need to keep him confined to the house or the yard for a few days. Licking at the incision bad enough to cause any problem is uncommon, but certainly let us know if you suspect a problem.