Health Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Dogs and Cats
You’ve heard it before. “Spay and neuter your pets!” There are several reasons why it’s important, but did you know that your pet’s health is a big one? The medical benefits of spaying and neutering your dogs and cats are clear.
Fact: Unaltered dogs and cats, male or female, are substantially more likely to develop potentially life-threatening illnesses.
Benefits of Spaying Female Dogs and Cats
Prevention of pyometra is a great reason to spay your pets. Pyometra is a life-threatening infection of the uterus that can occur in any intact female cat or dog. There are a few factors that contribute to it including hormonal changes after estrus and the accidental introduction of bacteria to the uterus during estrus, when the cervix is relaxed.
Pyometra isn’t often detected by pet owners until it is advanced. At this point, the best chance your pet has of surviving this infection is to have an emergency spay surgery. The more advanced the infection is, the more risk is involved with the surgery, but it must be done. Unfortunately, pyometra is not terribly rare. It’s painful and quickly causes a systemic infection. Pyometra is an emergency.
Yes, dogs and cats can get mammary tumors just like people can. In fact, they are the most common type of tumor in older, unspayed dogs and the third most common in unspayed cats.
Some facts provided by SNAP:
-In dogs, nearly 50% of mammary tumors are malignant.
-In cats, nearly 90% of mammary tumors are malignant.
-Unspayed dogs are four times more likely to develop mammary tumors than a dog spayed after just two heat cycles.
-Unspayed dogs are 12 times more likely to develop mammary tumors than a dog spayed before she is 6-8 months old.
-Unspayed cats are seven times more likely to develop mammary tumors than spayed cats.
Benefits of Neutering Male Dogs and Cats
Again, we have a risk of tumors associated with intact pets. Testicular tumors are fairly common in older dogs, though more rare in cats. Most often, these tumors are benign, but there are actually several different types of cancer that can happen. A study found that testicles that are not descended are at even higher risk to have malignant tumors. Benign or malignant, both testicles must be surgically removed by neutering to prevent painful or even life-threatening tumor growth. Testicular tumors are the second most common type of tumor found in older, unneutered dogs.
Both male cats and dogs are at significantly higher risk of wandering off, getting lost, getting hit by a car, getting into fights with competing males that often result in infections and the spreading of disease, etc. It can’t be stressed enough how much neutering decreases roaming and related injury in most males.
With cats, in particular, the spreading of disease is a big problem. Fighting cats often spread feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), for which there is no cure. Neutering can also reduce the urge for male cats to “spray”, or urinate to mark territory.
Spaying and neutering saves lives!