February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Spay and neuter is the #1 way to end pet homelessness before it begins. The reason why awareness starts in February is to encourage owners to sterilize their pets before the spring and summer months when there is a rampant overproduction of puppies and kittens. With overproduction, animal shelters experience an increase in animal intake.
The biggest challenge for pet owners is not whether they should fix their pets—but when. Statistics provided by the National Council of Pet Population reports 79% of pet owners don’t know when they should spay or neuter their pets. According to Gresham Animal Hospital’s Spay and Neuter Page we recommend ideally it should be between 3 and 6 months of age. Plus, it’s a short procedure that can be done in a few hours.
For the rest of you, we have four benefits to getting your pet spayed or neutered. Below are the main bullet points followed with more details for each item.
BENEFITS OF SPAYING OR NEUTURING YOU PET
- Fight overpopulation and crowded shelters
- Your pets live longer
- Lower medical costs
- Reduce undesirable behaviors
FIGHT OVERPOPULATION AND CROWDED SHELTERS
Let’s address the sad news first—don’t worry, we will get to the positive benefits after these alarming statistics. There are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. Barely half of these animals are adopted. According to the Humane Society, nationwide there are 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually.
YOUR PETS LIVE LONGER & LOWER RISK OF PET DISEASE
Now we can talk about the positive benefits. Your pets statistically live longer! A USA today article reports that neutered male dogs live 18% longer and spayed female dogs live 23% longer. There are two factors that extend the life of altered pets. After they are altered, they have less reason to roam. Another factor is the reduced risk of certain types of cancers.
LOWER MEDICAL COSTS
A family pet is worth every penny to increase its health, but lower medical costs also means fewer medical procedures, and less discomfort for your furriest member of the family. The biggest risk of an unaltered pet is the reproductive system. Procedures on the reproductive system can run into the thousands.
REDUCE UNDESIRABLE BEHAVIORS
Roaming, aggression, and excessive barking are undesirable behaviors that can be reduced by spay and neutering in both cats and dogs. The biggest behavioral issue is marking or spraying.
Unneutered dogs are more prone to urine-marking (lifting their leg). This is mostly true with male dogs, but female dogs may do it, too. Neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.
For cats, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat, and the simplest solution is to get yours neutered or spayed by 4 months of age before there’s even a problem. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam and fight with other males.
PASS ON THE MESSAGE
We may not be able to save all 2.7 million cats and dogs that get euthanized every year, but we can definitely reduce it. Most pet owners are on board with spaying and neutering, but just don’t know when to do it. Let them know it can be done between 3-6 months of age. If they don’t have time to read this blog, tell them to go straight to the video below.
Gresham Animal Hospital is equipped to provide the services and treatment your pet needs under one roof. Keep Gresham Animal Hospital in mind next time your dog or cat needs a checkup, shots, or vaccines. Give us a call at 503.666.1600 to schedule an appointment today.
“You’ll see how much we know, and you’ll know how much we care.”