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Medical Reasons for Spaying and Neutering

by: Nancy M. Gerhardt, DVM

People who bring their pets in to be spayed or neutered often say their pet is coming in to be "fixed". There is an old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, spaying and neutering do a lot more for your pet than to fix the problem of unwanted litters of puppies and kittens and to prevent tom cats from spraying urine. Many people believe that if a pet is not exposed to one of the opposite sex there is no need for spaying and neutering. This misconception has caused much heartache when an older, unaltered pet develops a health problem that is life-threatening, when the disease would not have occurred had the beloved pet been spayed or neutered earlier in life.

In male dogs and cats, neutering and spaying, especially if done as soon as possible after sexual maturity, eliminates roaming, fighting, (and resultant abcesses), and getting hit by automobiles. In males, prostate problems and balanitis (inflammation of the sheath) are not as likely as in their unneutered counterparts and testicular cancer becomes an impossibility. If a female dog or cat is spayed before she is two years old, breast cancer is enormously unlikely in later years. Many people fail to spay indoor cats unless behavior is intolerable because cats, unlike dogs, do not normally bleed during their heat periods. Additionally, occurances of ovarian cysts, cancer and pyometra (infection of the uterus) are eliminated as spaying removes both ovaries and the uterus. Furthermore, the potential of Caesarean sections, particularly in certain breeds, is no longer a worry.

If your pet is of high quality and good temperament for its breed and is in good health, this advice is not to discourage you from having one or more litters. But if your pet is not involved in a specific breeding program, please spay or neuter and let your pet be free of the inconvenient and even life-threatening troubles which can come from failing to stop the reproductive potential of an animal intended for pethood, not parenthood.