Original article by Tails Magazine
Responsible pet parents know that one of the best ways to ensure your pet’s long term health and help decrease the epidemic of pet overpopulation is to spay or neuter your furry friend. Despite the information available regarding the benefits of fixing your animal, however, not all caretakers are as sold on the idea. If you or someone you know is on the fence about the procedure, read on for 4 reasons you should spay or neuter your pet:
1. Your pet will live longer. Studies show that spay/neuter lowers the risk of cancer and UTI infections in pets. According to a 2013 report by USA Today neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs. The report goes on to add that in Mississippi, the lowest-ranking state for pet longevity, 44% of the dogs are not neutered or spayed.
2. You’ll save money. Spay/neuter surgery is a one time cost, and often the price is quite low. Compare this to the cost of caring for a pregnant pet or a little of puppies or kittens and you’ll see that it is significantly more cost effective to have your pet fixed.
3. Your pet will be better behaved. In both cats and dogs spay/neuter surgery has been proven to ameliorate many behavioral issues such as urine marking, roaming, and aggression. The surgery will not change your pet’s fundamental personality, only curb those issues that are related to hormonal surges.
4. You’ll help your community. Animal homelessness is a serious problem across the globe-–in the United States alone about 5-8 million animals end up in shelters every year, and many of them are euthanized because there are not enough available homes. Sad as this is, there is something you can do about it: By choosing to spay/neuter your pet your are contributing to keeping the homeless animal population down as opposed to increasing the number of animals in need of homes.
If you’re still not convinced, check out these myths and facts about spay/neuter from Petfinder:
Myth: A female cat or dog should have a litter before she is spayed.
Fact: The sooner you spay your female, the better her health will be in the future. As long as a kitten or puppy weighs more than 2 pounds and is 2 months old, he or she can be neutered or spayed. Many veterinarians practice perfectly safe early sterilization. The longer a female goes unspayed, the greater the likelihood of developing mammary tumors or uterine infections. In fact, a female spayed before her first heat (6 to 9 months of age) has one-seventh the risk of developing mammary cancer as an intact female.
Myth: Spaying or neutering (sterilization) will alter my pets personality.
Fact: Any slight changes will be positive. Regardless of the age when spayed or neutered, your pet will remain a caring, loving and protective companion. Neutering will reduce the need to breed, and that has a calming effect on many animals. Both neutered male canines and felines tend to stop roaming and fighting, and they also lose the desire to mark their territory with urine.
Myth: Companion animals will become fat and lazy if they are neutered.
Fact: Absolutely not! Lack of exercise and overfeeding make pets fat and lazynot neutering. Your pet will not gain weight if you provide exercise and monitor food intake. Neutering is good for your pet, since sterilized pets tend to live an average of two to three years longer than unsterilized pets.
Myth: Sterilization is a dangerous and painful surgery for my pet.
Fact: Spaying and neutering are the most common surgeries performed on animals. With a minimal amount of home care, your pet will resume normal behavior in a couple of days.
Myth: Children should witness the miracle of birth.
Fact: Countless books and videos are available to teach your children about birth in a responsible manner. Letting your pet produce offspring that you have no intention of keeping is teaching your children irresponsibility. Anyone who has seen an animal euthanized in a shelter for lack of a home knows the truth behind this dangerous myth.
Many states and counties have established low-cost spay/neuter programs that make the surgery affordable. Many cities also offer reduced licensing fees for owners of spayed and neutered pets. To find a low-cost program near you, call your local humane society or shelter, or call toll-free (800) 248-SPAY or visit TAILS Resource Page.
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.