Spay and neuter myths

Every year, millions of cats and dogs enter shelters in the United States and are euthanized simply because there are not enough homes for them all. Shelters and low-cost spay/neuter organizations are working hard to combat the homeless pet crisis as spaying and neutering is the most effective tool in eliminating unnecessary pain, suffering and death.

Spaying and neutering aids in curbing the animal overpopulation and has medical and behavioral benefits as well! According to the ASPCA, there are many benefits to spaying and neutering, and there a number of myths and rumors circulating about these live saving procedures.

MYTH: Spaying and neutering will cause my pets to gain weight.

FACT: Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to gain weight. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise, monitor their food intake and cut back on the treats — which are full of empty calories.

MYTH: Neutering will cause behavioral changes.

FACT: Unneutered cats and dogs are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine in your home. Unneutered dogs also tend to “mount” other dogs and people as they attempt to establish dominance. These behaviors may change when your pet is sterilized.

Neutering can help to prevent aggression problems or undesirable behaviors caused by higher levels of testosterone. It is important to remember that there are no guarantees that spaying and neutering will completely eliminate these behaviors, especially after they have already started and become habitual. The effects of spaying and neutering are largely dependent on your pet’s individual personality, physiology and history.

MYTH: Spay/neuter operations are expensive.

FACT: The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter, treatment of cancers and other illnesses that our pets can suffer from due to not being spayed or neutered. Plus, the Humane Society of Imperial County and other local organizations offer low-cost spay and neuter services within our community.

MYTH: Spaying and neutering is unhealthy for pets.

FACT: Quite the opposite! Neutering your male cat or dogs prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and mammary tumors which are cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats.

Spaying females will also eliminate them from developing pyometra which is an infection in the uterus. The uterus becomes inflamed and filled with pus due to hormonal imbalances from constantly coming in and out of heat. Pyometra is extremely painful and can go misdiagnosed for a long time. If caught too late, it can be fatal. Spaying and neutering pets will help them live longer, happier and healthier lives!

MYTH: Neutering will make my pet feel like less of a male.

FACT: Pets do not have any concept of ego or sexual identity and neutering a pet will not change that. What might change, however, is that your male dog will be less likely to roam from home in search of a mate. An unaltered male will do just about anything to find a “girlfriend,” including finding extremely clever ways of escaping the house or yard. Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury or death by being hit by a car or from fights with other male dogs.

Spayed female pets will not go into heat. Female cats usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to let suitors know that she’s “available,” she will yowl and urinate more frequently — sometimes all over the house!

It is clear to that spaying and neutering our pets have more pros than cons, and it will help in preventing or controlling unwanted behaviors, and it eliminates unnecessary pain and suffering. Most importantly, spaying and neutering will keep our pets where they belong — at home surrounded by the people who love them.


Devon Apodaca is executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County. 

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