The Truth About Fixing Your Pet

In our day to day work at OCHS, we often encounter people who are hesitant about spaying or neutering their pet. They have many questions–isn’t it healthier for them to be unfixed? Won’t they lose their sense of masculinity or femininity? Won’t they become fat and lazy?

We’re here to answer those questions, as well as to explain how spaying or neutering your pet will contribute to a region-wide effort to save other pets.

Q: Isn’t it healthier for my pet to stay intact? 

A: Actually, it isn’t! Recent studies have shown that neutering your male pet eliminates the risk of testicular cancer, reduces the risk of prostate-related disorders, and may even reduce the risk of diabetes. Female pets see even greater benefits, including the reduced risk of mammary tumors (which is the most common malignant tumor seen in female dogs), and the eliminated risk of cervical, uterine, and ovarian tumors.

Q: Isn’t it best for my female dog to have one litter of puppies before I spay her? 

A: Again–nope. While some studies have shown that waiting until your dog is one year old prior to spaying or neutering has some health benefits, having a litter of puppies can cause health complications and be risky. If you aren’t sure whether you can stop your dog from becoming pregnant prior to the one year mark, get her spayed as soon as possible!

Q: Isn’t the spay/neuter surgery risky in itself?

A: No! It’s a very low risk surgery. In fact, only .1% of procedures have complications. While your pet might have a period of healing afterwards where they need to be kept calm and quiet, they will soon be as good as ever.

Q: But what if I want my kids to experience the miracle of life by watching our pet give birth?

A: While birth is pretty incredible, there are better ways to have your kids experience it without contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. 6.5 million pets enter shelters each year, and 1.5 million of those pets are euthanized. That’s a lot, and it’s a number that we as rescuers work hard to lessen every day. With fewer animals in the United States, shelters are better able to care for and accommodate the animals that come to them–and there is more money to treat sick and injured animals. If you want your kids to experience the miracle of birth, foster a pregnant cat or dog!

Q: But my dog or cat is so awesome, that I want to make more like him/her! 

A: We get it. You love your pet with your whole heart, and there’s nothing more exciting than seeing those traits come out in a puppy. However, there’s no guarantee that the puppies/kittens will be just like their parents–not even breeders can guarantee this. Also, think about what will happen to the puppies/kittens. Your pet could have up to 12 babies. Are you planning to keep them all? If so, will you be able to give each of them the care and attention they need? And even if you find them homes, there is no guarantee that every one will give them the care and love they deserve. Once you’ve passed them on to their new home, you don’t have control over their quality of life, and some of them could end up at the shelter. Plus, even if each puppy/kitten finds an awesome home, they are taking up spots that could be filled by rescued animals–who are likely just as sweet, funny, and adorable as your pet, and who sometimes wait in shelters for years before someone brings them home!

Q: Won’t my pet become fat and lazy if he is neutered or she is spayed?

A: That’s another myth! Often, the things that cause obesity in pets are lack of exercise and overfeeding. Make sure your pet gets proper rations and plenty of exercise, and you’re unlikely to see a problem with weight. Check out Chara’s sleek physique (pictured below). She got spayed at 8 weeks old, but with exercise and proper food, she’s maintained her figure through the years!

Q: But spaying and neutering is expensive? How am I supposed to afford it?

A: Thankfully, there are low cost options for spaying and neutering in many towns. Contact your local shelter to find out more about the options. Also, even if it is expensive, it is less expensive than the supplies, vet care, and time/energy that goes into having litter after litter of puppies or kittens! Spaying and neutering is a one time cost that will save you money and headaches in the long run.

Q: But won’t my male pet lose his masculinity?

A: Nah. Most dogs/cats don’t even notice they’ve been fixed. They might be sore/achey for a few days, but once they recover, they’re as good as new! Neutering your male pet also will help prevent unwelcome behaviors, such as marking in the house, humping people/objects/other pets, and wandering off.