The Big Debate: Neuter and Spay Or Not.
March 27, 2019 by Furry Tales
Every Pet Parent and people in the animal welfare section face these questions at some point in their pet/animal’s life stage: Should you or should you not neuter/spay your pet dog/cat? What are the pros and cons? Is it necessary? Are there any complications?
Let us first understand what the terms “neutering” and “spaying” mean:
- Spaying refers to surgically removing a female animal’s ovaries and the uterus.
- Neutering refers to the removal of the testicles of an animal.
Now that you know what it is, you have to decide if you wish your pet to undergo this procedure. It is a big decision and can affect your pet significantly, in more ways than one, even behaviorally.
Not spaying or neutering your pet/streetie (local stray), can mean that they can bear offspring, i.e. a litter of kittens or puppies. You have to decide whether you wish for them to be a mother, or if they should father a litter. The thing to understand is that your pet in heat is equivalent to a human female going through a menstrual cycle.
Cats in heat:
When your cat goes into heat, she can behave differently from what you are used to. She may become unusually affectionate and may even rub her hindquarters against your furniture, other cats or people. She will become unusually vocal and may howl for several days at a time. You may find her assuming a mating position with her head down, forelegs bent and rear quarters and tail raised, with her legs treading rhythmically as if she were walking in place. Cats may also tend to spray everything with a strongly scented fluid. If your cat does not succeed in mating, she could go into heat as often as every 2-3 weeks for several months of the year. Spaying will stop this and would be a wise choice unless you intend for her to mate and have kittens.
Dogs in heat:
The length and interval of a cycle for a dog in heat can vary with each dog. On average for most dogs, the time between heat periods is about 6-7 months. Some dogs can even cycle every 4 months and some only once a year. The average length of a heat cycle is approximately 3 weeks. And for some, it can be as little as 7-10 days. It really varies from pet to pet, just like the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman.
How do you tell if your dog is in heat? During the first few days of the heat cycle, you will notice some bleeding and swelling of the vulva. There may be an increase in urination. You will probably notice an increase in male dogs hanging around your area. During this initial part of the cycle though, your female pet will not allow the males to breed, even though the males may be persistent. Only during the next phase of the cycle will she allow a male to breed with her, and that phase can last anywhere from 4-21 days. After that, the female will start to go out of heat and be less willing to mate.
Your female dog will allow almost any male to breed with her and if you do not want puppies, it is best to either keep your pet locked up, or get her spayed. If you do decide to spay your pet, it is best to wait until the heat cycle is over which can decrease the chance of complications.
Health Benefits of Neutering/Spaying
More often than not, there are health benefits to spaying your pet. In cats, neutering can reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer and developing mammary tumors. For males, neutering prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer. Your pet will also have fewer chances of contracting: 1. pyometra (a serious uterine infection requiring surgery) 2. metritis (infection of the uterus after delivery). They will live longer in general and are less likely to contract deadly diseases, such as feline AIDS and leukemia, that are spread through bodily fluids.
With the decision to not spay or neuter your pet, comes the responsibility of finding good homes for the offspring. Although it is possible, this can be a very tedious and time-consuming task without a deadline.
One really should consider the overpopulation of dogs and cats in today’s world also. Many, even popular breeds, are abandoned by their owners for various reasons. You only have to visit your local animal shelter to discover many such unfortunate animals.
As per a PETA article, one unspayed female dog, and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in just six years, while one female cat and her offspring can produce a whopping 370,000 kittens in a span of seven years.
All in all, please do your research and understand completely, the pros and cons of your decision. We also suggest consulting your veterinarian as well as an animal behaviourist since they will be able to evaluate the animal in question, with regards to their health and behaviour and what effect neutering/spaying can have on him/her.
Though neutering your own pet does not come free of cost, a lot of veterinarians also have a separate fund for strays. They use this fund to perform free surgeries for the local strays. All you need to do is ask around in local welfare groups or even reach out to the local NGO’s who can help you with the details.
It is our duty as a responsible pet parent and a member of the society, to do what is in the best interest of the beloved animals.