Getting a new puppy or kitten is an exciting thing. There is so much to do when you finally get to bring it home, from buying the essentials and toys to finding a new vet. One other thing you should make sure to do as soon as possible is have your new furry friend spayed or neutered.
Spaying or neutering your pet involves removing its reproductive organs (ovaries and uterus for females and testicles for males). Not only is this process instrumental in helping to reduce the overpopulation of stray cats and dogs, but it can also help your pet live a longer, healthier and happier life.
Health benefits of spaying and neutering
Spaying is for female pets and neutering is for male pets. Both procedures are able to be done on cats and dogs when they reach sexual maturity. The procedures can result in a few potential health benefits for your pet, mostly regarding the development of tumors and cancer.
Spaying your female pet may help reduce her risk of developing infections of the uterus and breast cancer. Both dogs and cats may be at risk for these issues, but cats have a higher risk.
Neutering your male pet may help prevent testicular cancer and may also help reduce the risk of other problems related to the prostate, too.
Overall, pets that have been spayed or neutered are known to live longer than pets that are not.
Behavior benefits of spaying and neutering
There are also many benefits of spaying and neutering that are related to pet behavior. Pet parents and pets alike tend to be happier and calmer after the pet has undergone a spay or neuter procedure.
Female pets that have not been spayed will begin their estrous, or reproductive, cycles and go into heat. During this time, female pets are known to urinate more frequently or spray to mark their scent, vocalize, act more affectionate and appear somewhat distressed.
When male pets are not neutered, they tend to be much more aggressive and territorial than normal. Un-neutered dogs may urine mark around the home more often, and un-neutered male cats may spray.
Males may also be prone to dominance-related behaviors like mounting and barking. They may even try to escape the home in order to find a mate, putting them in danger of traffic, other animals and diseases. Neutering can help stop these behaviors. It may also be easier to train your neutered dog because it will be less distracted.
Fortunately, the spay or neuter procedure will not alter your dog or cat’s innate personality—it can merely help prevent unwanted behavior driven by hormones and the urge to reproduce.
When to spay and neuter your furry friend
Although you’ll want to have your dog or cat spayed or neutered, you may not be able to have the procedure done right away, depending on its age.
Cats are typically able to be spayed or neutered once they reach eight weeks of age, although you may want to wait until they are closer to four months for safety purposes. Cats reach sexual maturity when they are five or six months old, so you’ll want to have the procedure scheduled before that time. If your cat enters heat before she is spayed, she can still have the procedure done.
Dogs, on the other hand, are typically spayed or neutered when they are a little older—around six to nine months. They can be neutered at around eight weeks old, but some vets prefer to do it later to ensure the health of the puppy.
Create a happier life for your new pet
Spaying and neutering are very common procedures with low risks for your pets (although every animal should receive a wellness check before the procedure to ensure its health and safety). When you spay or neuter your pet, you give it the chance for a longer and healthier life. You also protect your community from unwanted litters and stray pets, and you protect potential animals from a life of homelessness or danger.
If you’re adopting a pet from an animal shelter, check to see if its has been spayed or neutered prior to adoption. Most shelters will have this procedure done as early as possible prior to adoption. If you’re adopting a pet from a friend or family member because their pet had a litter, be sure to find your new pet a veterinarian right away and make a plan to have its procedure scheduled as soon as possible.
Spaying and neutering is good for you, your community and, most importantly, your pet.