Pet breast cancer awareness

Oct. 1 marked the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As some may already know, the Humane Society of Imperial County is a huge advocate of pet health awareness through spaying and neutering. Some pet owners do not know that having unaltered female pets and over-breeding are a direct link to specific reproductive cancers in female pets.

Most veterinary experts would agree that spaying female pets has several health benefits for our fur-kids: There are certain types of cancers and conditions that can completely and easily be avoided simply by having a pet spayed. Females that have given birth to multiple litters over several years are susceptible to mammary cancer. Mammary cancer in pets can present itself as a small-irregular shaped lump on the abdomen where the pet’s teats are. Sometimes these lumps are hard and can feel like a piece of gravel under the skin. If not dealt with in a timely manner, the tumor will grow and may spread.

Ovarian and uterine cancers have also been seen in un-spayed female pets. Female pets may also experience a condition called pyometra. This condition is an infection of the uterus. This infection is caused by hormonal changes that occur each time a female pet goes into heat. As she ages, and with more and more heat cycles, the chances of the pet developing pyometra increase. Pyometra is associated with several different symptoms and can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian. If not caught in time and treated properly, this condition may cause the pet to become very ill and experience a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort. It may even lead to death.

If you have a female pet that is not spayed and you see, feel, or notice something that is abnormal, please contact your family veterinarian immediately. This simple procedure can eliminate a lot of pain and suffering. Paying a one time, low-cost spay fee early on is much more affordable than dealing with high vet bills for cancer treatment and/or emergency procedures.

Although the Humane Society of Imperial County prefers to have adopted pets spayed between 4 and 6 months of age, your family veterinarian has their own preference on when it is most appropriate for your pet to be spayed. Aside from eliminating certain health problems, spaying can also help eliminate some unwanted behavioral issues. Spaying in female dogs eliminates unwanted “bloody spots” around the house. In female cats it eliminates those late nights of howling.

A bonus to spaying pets is that it will help keep pets from wandering from home. Because female pets will no longer have the urge to seek out a mate, they have no desire to roam the streets. With animal control officers becoming stricter on enforcing city ordinances, this could help a lot of people avoid unwanted fines and citations. It also helps keep pets healthy by not accidentally becoming ill or injured while running at large and could save a pet owner from obtaining a large vet bill. Spaying female pets also eliminates male animals from wandering into the yard or around the home because there aren’t any “in heat” females around. A major benefit to spaying (and neutering) pets is that it has a pawsitive impact on our community as a whole! This simple-routine procedure prevents unwanted litters and keeps animals in homes and out of shelters.

The Humane Society of Imperial County offers a low-cost spay (and neuter) program that is open to all community members and functions on a weekly basis. To schedule your pet’s low-cost appointment, please call or come by our office during business hours. For regular spay and neuter appointments, please contact a veterinarian.

Humane Society of Imperial County: (760) 352-1911

Desert Veterinary Group in Imperial: (760) 355-0141

Foothills Animal Hospital in Yuma: (928) 342-0448

VCA in Indio: (760) 342-4711

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

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