Homelessness (unwanted puppies and kittens) – every year, millions of homeless/unwanted pets enter animal shelters across North America. Sadly, a large number of these pets don’t end up finding forever homes and are euthanized.
Longevity – unaltered pets have a much higher tendency to roam; this roaming leads to fighting with other animals, being hit by cars and other accidents. Intact female dogs are at increased risk of developing pyometra, a life-threatening emergency where the uterus becomes infected and full of pus.
Cancer – altered pets have less chances of developing certain cancers. Females who have a complete ovariohysterectomy no longer have ovaries or a uterus so there is no chance to get cancer in those locations. It is also well documented that spaying a female dog prior to her first heat cycle reduces the risk of mammary cancers. Males can no longer get testicular cancer once the testicles have been removed. There is also evidence to support a potential decrease in prostatic cancers in neutered males.
Behavior – studies show that the majority of dog bites are inflicted by dogs that are still intact. Intact dogs especially (male and female) tend to be more assertive than their sterilized counterparts. Spaying or neutering your pet will not change its fundamental personality; it may however take some of the edge off. Intact pets are more prone to urine marking as well, often leaving their scent in multiple different locations. Neutering cats can helps to reduce marking behavior in an estimated 90% of patients.
Costs – reproductive emergencies such as pyomtra or cancers are much more costly to correct (where possible) than the cost to spay or neuter ~ sometimes up to 5-10x more expensive. As mentioned previously, serious fighting is more common in intact pets, resulting in costly veterinary visits for surgery and medications. Municipal licensing fees are often less expensive for sterilized pets as well.
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend our clients spay or neuter their pets around 5.5-6 months of age. Occasionally there are medical reasons to post-pone surgery, if you have concerns, it is best to discuss those with the veterinary team.