People's Animal Welfare Society
Eastern Province

MYTHS About Spaying & Neutering

Whether you call them myths or old wives’ tales certain myths are thought of as fact. How many of these do you still believe?

Test your spay and neuter IQ.

MYTH: Sterilization is dangerous and painful.

FACT: Spaying and neutering are the most common surgeries performed on our pets. They have a minimal recuperation period before they return to their normal activities.

MYTH: You need to let your female cat or dog have one litter (or estrus) before she is spayed.

FACT: Medical evidence proves the best time to spay your female is before her first estrus (heat) cycle. Evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat cycle contract far less health problems. The facts are:

• Spaying your female at a young age prevents uterine infections. Infections of the uterus are a major cause of illness and even death in un-spayed females. Pyometra occurs after a heat cycle. With this condition the uterus does not return to normal but swells several times its size and is filled with pus. If left untreated it results in a 100% death rate. Even if proper treatment is received it can be costly and leave the animal open to lifelong heart and kidney problems.
• Spaying reduces the incidence of mammary (breast) cancer. This is a very common cancer in un-spayed females, and the most common cancer to spread to the lungs. Spaying before the first heat cycle decreases the risk of your female developing this condition to almost zero.
• Spaying your female reduces their risk of uterine cancer to 0%.
• Spaying eliminates unwanted males from harassing your pet.
• Spayed animals do not need to be confined indoors to avoid pregnancy.

MYTH: Pets become fat and lazy after being spayed or neutered.

FACT: The truth is that most pets get fat and lazy because their owners give them too many treats and not enough exercise. While it is true that there can be a tendency for a pet to put on some weight after the operation it is not true that the operation caused the weight gain.

Weight gain that follows sterilization surgery may be linked to those hormone changes but will be aggravated by continuing to feed a high energy diet to a pet that is reducing the need for energy. The spayed or neutered pet will not expend as much energy due to the fact they are not actively seeking out a mate, gestating or lactating.

If your pet shows signs of putting on a little weight, reduce their calorie intake and increase the walks or play sessions.

MYTH: A pet's behavior changes after they are spayed or neutered.

FACT: Any changes your pet might go through are changes you will find positive. The facts are:

• Male cats and dogs tend not to do as much territorial spraying. If they are neutered at a young age, prior to developing this habit, they may never develop it at all.

• Neutered cats and dogs fight less which results in fewer battle scars, contagious diseases, and abscesses. They also don’t tend to wander since they aren't interested in pursuing a female in heat. Therefore, their chances of being hit by a car or getting lost are dramatically reduced.
• Female cats and dogs don’t have to go through the hormonal ups and downs of their estrus cycle which makes them a more balanced, loving pet.

MYTH: I don ’t have to neuter my dog or cat because he isn’t the one who will have the puppies/kittens.

FACT: Your unaltered male can be responsible for impregnating dozens of females resulting in countless offspring. Your pet will also be put at a greater risk for fighting resulting in injuries for him and veterinary bills for you.

MYTH: Neutering male cats causes urethral obstructions.

FACT: Studies show that urethral obstructions are not affected by whether or not a cat is neutered. Neutering diminishes the likelihood of prostate and testicular cancers and perineal hernias later in life. To prevent urethral obstructions, make sure your pet is eating the right diet for its breed, age and overall health condition.

MYTH: I can find homes for all the puppies or kittens that my female gives birth to.

FACT: Even if you find homes for all of your pet ’s offspring that is no guarantee that is a good home or a lasting home. Too many pets are abandoned to the streets or shelters when their owners grow tired of them. And who will be there to ensure your pet’s offspring won’t breed and contribute to the overpopulation problem. For every good home you would send your pet’s offspring to, send that family to a shelter or rescue group to save a life of an animal with an uncertain future. Remember, pet overpopulation is created one litter at a time.

MYTH: My dog won't be a good watchdog if it is spayed or neutered.

FACT: Altered animals will remain as protective and loyal as they were prior to the surgery. Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog ’s instinct to protect its home and family. A dog’s personality is based more on genetics and environment than hormones.

MYTH: But my pet is a purebred.

FACT: So are too many unwanted and abandoned animals. There are just too many dogs and cats —mixed breed and purebred.

MYTH: I don't want my male dog or cat to feel like less of a male.

FACT: Neutering will not change your cat or dog ’s basic personality. He doesn't suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered. This is human thinking. Their mating behavior is driven by the female estrus cycle not their emotional desires.

MYTH: But my pet is so special, I want another one just like it.

FACT: No matter how perfect your cat or dog is that is no guarantee you will reproduce a carbon copy of your pet. More than likely it will never happen. Even professional breeders who study genetics and follow bloodlines are never guaranteed to get the perfect specimen.

MYTH: I want my children to see the miracle of birth.

FACT: Even if children were able to see a pet give birth, which is unlikely, since it usually occurs at night and in seclusion, it may not be suitable for children. The birthing process is graphic and may actually frighten your children. Instead, why not teach your children to be kind and humane to all living creatures and educate them on the importance of spaying and neutering.

MYTH: Preventing pets from reproducing is unnatural.

FACT: When we domesticated the dog and the cat we took them out of the natural order of Mother Nature. In doing this, it helped create dog and cat overpopulation. This, along with the dumping of unwanted pets who breed at alarming rates, has led to the overwhelming shelter and homeless statistics we have today. We must now take responsibility for solving it.

MYTH: The operation costs too much money.

FACT: The cost of spaying or neutering your pet is far cheaper than properly raising a litter of puppies or kittens.

It is also far less costly, financially and emotionally, than if your pet is stricken with a disease which could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

Spaying or neutering is a one-time cost that lasts your pet a lifetime. What a very small price to pay for the overall health of your pet.