Why Spay or Neuter Your Dog?
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
Companion animal overpopulation is reaching critical levels in the United States. 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each year. Five to seven million pets end up in shelters annually, approximately 60% of which are eventually euthanized. Spaying and neutering are the only 100% effective methods of birth control for dogs. This process is beneficial to your dog and your community, as well as a vastly more practical alternative to accidental pregnancies.
Do It for Your Dog
When a dog’s hormones are in full force and they are not allowed to mate, they grow frustrated and unhappy. This frustration can lead to aggression, especially in male dogs. When you have your dog fixed, these hormones are drastically decreased, which makes dogs less aggressive, less prone to mark, less dominant, and less prone to roam. Roaming dogs are more likely to fight other animals, get into car accidents, and be picked up by animal control; they are also more likely to pick up diseases. 85% of dogs hit by cars are intact (not spayed or neutered).
The health benefits of spaying and neutering alone are a good enough reason to go ahead with the procedure. In male dogs, the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated and the risk of prostate cancer is significantly decreased. In females, the risk of uterine cancer and ovarian cancer are eliminated, and the risk of breast cancer is greatly decreased if the procedure is done before her first heat cycle. Bear in mind that females can become pregnant as early as 5 months of age. With advances in veterinary medicine and knowledge, it is now understood that puppies can be fixed at as young an age as 8 weeks, and younger puppies have a faster recovery time from the surgery.
Bottom line: having your dogs spayed or neutered extends their life by one to three years. Think about the fun, love, and warm and beautiful memories a dog can provide you and your family in one to three years!
Do It for Your Community
When intact males jump the fence, slip their collars, or just generally roam, there’s always a chance they will find a female dog in heat. This leads to an accidental pregnancy that the owner of the female may not be prepared for, or if a feral dog is impregnated, it results in more feral dogs. If a male and a female mate, and none of the future generations of their offspring are ever fixed, this exchange can result in 67,000 dogs within six years.
Roaming and homeless dogs are a public nuisance and can wreak all sorts of havoc. They are destructive and noisy and they terrorize and even kill local pets and livestock; as well as frighten, chase and bite children. They also amount to major health hazards by leaving behind waste, and carrying parasites and diseases like worms and rabies.
The capture, impoundment, and destruction of these unwanted dogs costs money for equipment, facilities, and man hours. These costs fall on taxpayers and can be lowered significantly by a community-wide effort to spay and neuter all companion animals.
Spay vs. Accidental Pregnancy
The cost of having your dog fixed can be somewhat substantial, but there are plenty of programs and facilities that either help offset the cost, or perform the procedure for a reduced rate. That in mind, the onetime cost of spaying or neutering is significantly less than the cost of an accidental pregnancy.
If your female is impregnated, you will be responsible for providing nutrition and care suitable for a pregnant female for the next two months. You will also have to help with the birth and cleaning of each puppy when the time comes. Furthermore, you will be responsible for facilitating and paying for their primary vet visits, shots, and wormings; as well as paying vet bills if any complications occur before, during, or after the birth. You will have a litter of between three and ten puppies on your hands for at least two more months. This means messes, noise, sleepless nights, and considerable expense.
It is cheaper, healthier, and far more practical to have your dog spayed (or neutered—you don’t want your male dog to take it upon himself to place this burden on some poor, unknowing owner of an unfixed female).
But I want my children to experience the miracle of birth.
The chances you and your children will even witness the birth are slim. Dogs prefer to hide away while in a vulnerable position such as giving birth. Also, there’s no telling when the event will actually occur. It could happen at four in the morning while you’re all asleep, or in the middle of the day while the kids are at school. So, once they’ve missed the big event, all that’s left of this argument is how much fun it is for the kids to have a bunch of puppies running around for two months. With the massive overpopulation of companion animals in this country, do you really think it’s worth it?
But my dog is a purebred.
Just because a dog is a purebred doesn’t make it more special or make its offspring immune to being given up or euthanized. One in four dogs in shelters is a purebred.
But I don’t want my dog to get fat and lazy.
This is complete myth. Spaying and neutering makes dogs neither fat, nor lazy. Dogs get fat because they consume more calories than they burn throughout the day, and they get lazy because they are out of shape. Dogs who are fat need to eat less and exercise more.
But my dog will be sad if I take away his manhood.
The concern over making a male dog miserable by having him fixed is a prime example of anthropomorphizing—the act of ascribing human thoughts and feelings to a non-human entity. Dogs do think and feel, but not the same way humans do. Dogs have no concept of sexual identity or ego. These feelings are purely human.
But I love my dog so much and I know she won’t live forever. I want to have another puppy just like her.
There is no way to guarantee that even one puppy out of a litter will display the characteristics you so adore in one parent. Professional breeders cannot even guarantee much about how puppies in a litter will turn out, even with years of training and a knowledge of both parents’ backgrounds and bloodlines. Furthermore, much of what attaches people to their dog is unique personality, which is far more a result of training, socialization, and the environment in which the dog was raised than the personalities of his parents.