What Is It?
Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures used to remove the reproductive organs of dogs and cats. Spaying is the removal of the uterus and ovaries of a female dog or cat. Neutering is the removal of a male dog’s or cat’s testicles. These procedures are also sometimes referred to as “sterilizing” or “fixing” pets.
How Does It Work?
Both of these procedures are performed by a veterinarian while the pet is under anesthesia, medically asleep. Spaying is generally a more involved procedure than neutering because the reproductive organs are being removed from the internal body cavity.
Although all surgical procedures carry some risks, spaying and neutering are the most common surgical procedures performed in dogs and cats, and most pets handle the surgery very well. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding withholding food and water before surgery. Your pet will need to stay at the hospital anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on age, size, sex and condition. Also be careful to follow all recommendations for home care or aftercare, such as pain medications and post surgery appointments.
What are the Benefits?
One of the best reasons to spay or neuter your pet is to avoid adding to the problem of pet overpopulation. Every day in the United States, thousands more puppies and kittens are born than are human babies. The result is that there are not enough homes for all these pets. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that between 6 and 8 million pets enter animal shelters each year. Of these pets, the HSUS believes that at least half — 3 to 4 million — are euthanized. Many of these animals are young and healthy.
Spaying and neutering also have immediate benefits for you and your pet:
- Your pet will be much less likely to get a number of serious health problems that can be life-threatening and expensive to treat, such as uterine, mammary (breast) or testicular cancer.
- Spayed and neutered pets are less likely to try to escape and roam. Roaming pets are far more likely to get into fights with other animals or to experience traumatic injuries, such as being hit by a car.
- Neutering male cats makes them less likely to mark their territory (your home) by spraying urine.
- Spaying female pets prevents them from coming into heat, that is, actively seeking a mate. Females in heat may vocalize more and may leave bloodstains on carpets or furniture. A female dog or cat in heat may also attract unwanted male canine or feline visitors to your property.
- Spayed or neutered pets are generally more even-tempered and less likely to show aggression with other animals or people.