Spay and Neuter Awareness
Dr. Garver typically recommends spaying female dogs or cats when they are 4 to 6 months old—before the first heat cycle—due to the medical benefits. Mammary tumors, or breast cancer, are a big concern in female dogs and cats. Spaying a dog after her first heat cycle, increases the risk from 0.5 percent risk of mammary tumors up to an 8 percent risk. Waiting until after her 2nd heat cycle, increases the risk to 26 percent risk. This benefit extends to cats as well. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), kittens spayed before 6 months old are seven times less likely to develop mammary cancer. Spaying pets also avoids pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus. By age 4, 15.2 percent of unaltered female dogs will develop pyometra. By age 10, that risk rises to 23–24 percent. Female cats that are not spayed are also very susceptible to pyometra. A spay surgery, which removes the uterus and ovaries, eliminates the risk completely.
Neutering male pets also has many health advantages. Neutering dogs virtually eliminates the risk of prostate issues, including infection and prostatic hyperplasia, an enlargement of the prostate that creates difficulty passing stool. By age 6, 75–80 percent of unaltered male dogs will have benign prostatic hyperplasia and by age 9, it’s 95–100 percent. Neutering male dogs completely eliminates this risk. It also prevents the spread of transmissible venereal tumors (a sexually transmitted disease) and perineal hernias, in which testosterone weakens the muscles around the anus and allows abdominal content to push though, while neutering cats protects against testicular cancer.
Neutering also reduces or eliminates unwanted behaviors like spraying in male cats, roaming and aggression in dogs. The earlier the surgery is performed, the less likely these behaviors will occur.
There may be concerns that sterilizing pets will lead to obesity. It does not have to! Proper diet and exercise can easily solve the issue. Remember, we have control of the food! Most dogs and cats can’t access the refrigerator or feed themselves!
There may be concerns about the risks of anesthesia. Kindness Animal Clinic is an AAHA accredited hospital, and AAHA mandates excellent anesthesia protocols. This makes the risk of anesthesia for young, healthy animals very low.
Some pet owners say they want to wait to spay their dogs or cats until after they produce a litter so their children can witness the “miracle of birth.” Not every birth goes smoothly, and animals shouldn’t have a litter until they have reached full adult size if they are to be bred responsibly. If you must....consider fostering a pregnant dog or cat from a local animal shelter so you won't be bringing even more animals into the world.
Pet overpopulation is real. Each year, approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized in the U.S., according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Do the right thing!