March is Fix your Pet Month! Get the facts on spay and neuter!
The pet overpopulation problem is a global one. Even here in our own community, our shelter is full of pets needing homes. One very important thing that you can do as a pet owner is to have your pet spayed or neutered. Not only will you be helping keep the number of unwanted pets down, there are also some very important health benefits that many people are unaware of.
As unspayed female dogs and cats age, they are at increased risk for developing a deadly condition of the uterus called pyometra. “Pyo” literally means pus, and in this condition the uterus fills up with pus, placing the pet in a very toxic condition. Similar to a person with appendicitis, if the uterus ruptures, this can lead to very serious consequences, including death of the patient. Treating a patient with pyometra requires emergency surgery that is risky to the patient and quite costly to the pet owner. The good news is that this can be 100% prevented by simply spaying your pet!
Prevention of mammary cancer is also a huge benefit. Ideally getting your spayed before her first heat cycle will practically eliminate this risk. Neutering your male pet will also translate into health advantages. The prostate is under testosterone control, the male sex hormone. As male dogs age, the prostate can enlarge which can lead to prostate infections, abscesses and even colon blockages. Although neutering will not prevent prostate cancer, it can be trickier diagnosing prostate cancer in an unneutered pet as benign and cancerous processes and look very similar.
Neutered male dogs tend to roam less and get into less trouble with car accidents and dog fights. Male cats, especially ones that like to go outside, will fight less and are less prone to viruses such as Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), the cat versions of AIDs, and if you ever lived with an unneutered male cat, you will never forget the smell of his urine! It can be quite awful!
The time to get your pet spayed and neutered may vary according to your pet’s size, health status, and circumstances. Most veterinarians agree that spaying a female before the first heat cycle is the best time to have the procedure done. It is important to realize that as pets age, the procedure can become more complex, translating into increased costs to the pet owner, so having the procedure scheduled at a young age should be considered. Shelter animals are often spayed and neutered at a very young age with very few complications prior to adoption to ensure that pet population numbers are kept at bay. In the long run, the time to spay or neuter your pet should be discussed with your vet to determine what is best for you and your pet!
Dr. Jacquie Pankatz
Mountain Vista Veterinary Hospital provides hundreds of spay/neuter surgeries for the animals at the GTHS. Their generousity and commitment to animal welfare helps to save lives at the GTHS animal shelter.