February is Spay/Neuter Month… Be a Part of the Solution!

In many communities, pet overpopulation and euthanasia are a continuing problem. Be a part of the solution: spay or neuter your pets.
The perpetuation of myths about spaying and neutering and the high cost cause many people to avoid the procedures, but the fact is sterilization makes your dog a better behaved, healthier pet and will save you money in the long run.
Many people, particularly men, have a hard time sterilizing their pets, imposing upon their dogs their own feelings on losing reproductive abilities. A dog will not feel like less of a “man” or “woman” after being sterilized. It will not suffer an identity crisis or mourn the loss of its reproductive capability. Your dog will simply have one less need to fulfill. A dog’s basic personality is formed more by environment and genetics than by sex hormones, so sterilization will not change your dog’s basic personality, make your dog sluggish or affect its natural instinct to protect the pack. But it will give you a better behaved pet. Neutered dogs have less desire to roam, mark territory (like your couch!) and exert dominance over the pack. Spayed dogs no longer experience the hormonal changes during heat cycles that turn your pet into a nervous dog that cries incessantly and attracts unwanted male dogs. Sterilized dogs are more affectionate and less likely to bite, run away, become aggressive, or get into a fight.
Another myth is that spaying and neutering cause weight gain. Dogs do not get fat simply by being sterilized. Just like humans, dogs gain weight if they eat too much and exercise too little or if they are genetically programmed to be overweight. The weight gain that people may witness after sterilization is most likely caused by continuing to feed a high energy diet to a dog that is reducing its need for energy as it reaches adult size.
Dogs do not mourn their lost capability to reproduce. They reproduce solely to ensure the survival of their species. They do not raise a puppy for eighteen years. They do not dream of their puppy’s wedding. They do not hope for the comfort of grandchildren in their old age. Female dogs nurse for a few weeks, teach the puppies rules, boundaries, and limitations and send them off to join the pack. Male dogs are not “fathers” in the human sense of the word; they do not even recognize puppies as their own.
As for expense, today there are enough low cost and free spay and neuter programs that this can no longer be an excuse! Even if these programs are not available in your area, the emotional distress and money spent on medical treatments you will save down the line makes it an investment that will be worth every penny.
Spaying (for females) and neutering (for males) can have health and behavioral benefits. For females, the benefits of spaying include lowering the risk for uterine cancer and mammary tumors, no more messy heat cycles, and eliminating the chance of accidental breedings that result in unwanted puppies. Also, some females experience false pregnancies and uterine infections that can be fatal. With male dogs, neutering can decrease aggression and the tendency for the male dog who has females on his mind to want to get loose and wander. If it is done early enough, neutering helps do away with with scent marking, the tendency for the dog to lift his leg and leave his “signature” on your furniture. Neutering male dogs also reduces the risk for testicular cancer and prostate disease. Sterilization reduces the risk of incidence of a number of health problems that are difficult and expensive to treat. Your veterinarian can help you make decisions about the right time to spay/neuter your dog.  By sterilizing your pet, your dog will live a healthier and longer life.