Spaying and neutering are the most common veterinary procedures performed on cats and dogs. These procedures are statistically very safe and generally made accessible by government-subsidized clinics around the country. Because they are an important consideration for new pet owners, the following are our top three pros and one con of spaying and neutering pets.
Pro: Control Homeless Pet Populations
Due to post-pandemic economic uncertainty, US shelters are full and rescues can’t keep up with the current number of owner surrenders, unwanted litters, etc. According to the ASPCA, each year, approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized. Of these, 390,000 are dogs and 530,000 are cats. The easiest and most reliable way to control homeless pet overpopulation is to spay and neuter as soon as possible.
Pro: Reduction in Hormone-Driven Behaviors
Adolescent and adult animals that are “in heat” will display biologically appropriate yet oftentimes unwanted behaviors such as escaping, marking, reactivity, etc. These behaviors can become habits and take a toll on the pet’s otherwise pet-loving family. Spay and neuter procedures that remove ovaries and testicles almost entirely eliminate sex hormone fluctuations and have been shown to improve or eliminate these unwanted behaviors.
Pro: Reduction in Reproductive Cancers
Because many spay and neuter procedures remove the reproductive organs, the risk of cancer affecting these organs is eliminated. In addition, the overall reduction of hormone production can play a part in keeping cancers at bay. Per the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, “by spaying before a first, second, or third heat cycle, the hormones that cause mammary gland tumors later in life are reduced which lowers their risk of developing tumors. For dogs, this means reducing the risk to below 1% if spayed before their first heat cycle. In cats who are spayed prior to 6 months of age, studies have shown up to a 91% reduction in risk.”
Con: Controversy in Methods
Over the past few years, differing schools of thought have promoted some spay and neuter procedures over others. Some procedures eliminate the entire reproductive system, similar to a hysterectomy for women, and some simply sterilize the animal without full removal of hormone-producing organs. While more extended research is needed, pet parents must do their research to learn what is best for their pet’s short and long-term health.
Cost & Availability
Spay and neuter procedures typically cost around a few hundred dollars. Affluent areas may have higher costs due to higher clinic expenses while rural areas may be more affordable, yet require a further drive. Thankfully, Virginia has organizations such as, No More Chasin' Tails, Spay Neuter Clinic, and SpayVA that are dedicated to making spay and neuter, and procedures accessible to those that cannot afford to pay for them themselves.
Because veterinary clinics and affordable programs are currently experiencing short-staffing and unprecedented high demand, getting your pet in for a spay or neuter can take a while. For this reason, it’s essential to plan ahead and find a reputable veterinarian or program near you before you bring your pet home.
At Hearts at Home Pet Sitting, we love to support our clients and their pets before and after spay and neuter procedures. To learn more about how we can help you find resources, care for your pet post-surgery, and more, please call 757-745-9868 or email Hello@HeartsAtHomePetSitting.com.