As pet owners, we see the commercials that tell us to spay or neuter our pets to control the stray animal population. When we adopt from a humane society or rescue shelter, all the animals have already had the procedure done.
But many owners who have to get it done on their own usually don’t and don’t realize that there are many other reasons to have your pet spayed or neutered.
Male dogs that are not neutered can develop a prostate enlargement that can ultimately cause difficulty with urinations and bowel movements. They can also develop infections of the prostate. Other medical conditions that can occur are testicular cancer and tumors around the anal area that require surgery.
Female dogs can get much more life threatening conditions if they are not spayed. They can get an uterine infection, called pyometra, that requires emergency surgery. If this condition is untreated or surgery is not done as soon as possible, the infection gets into the bloodstream and becomes fatal.
Female dogs that aren’t spayed can also get mammary tumors. About 50 percent of these mammary tumors are malignant and spread to the lungs. Spaying a dog before her first heat cycle decreases her chances of developing mammary tumors to almost 0 percent.
Male cats usually do not remain intact long enough to develop any medical problems related to not being neutered, but a male cat that isn’t neutered poses issues for your household.
Male cat urine has a very potent odor and male cats that aren’t neutered usually will begin spraying in the house around puberty time. Neutering at this time helps decrease the odor of the urine.
Female cats also can get pyometra like dogs. They get mammary tumors as well, but, unlike dogs, 90 percent of their tumors are malignant. These tumors are very difficult to remove completely and spread quickly. They usually occur at a fairly young age, too.
Early is best
Some of these health risks are actually initiated early in the animal’s life. For mammary tumors, they can be triggered with their first heat cycle when they are between six months to one year of age.
We want our pets with us as long as possible and do not want them to develop an illness that could have been avoided by having our pets spayed or neutered.
Emily Coatney-Smith is a veterinarian at Far Hills Animal Clinic. The clinic has been in business for more than 40 years. It is a small animal clinic that specializes in dogs, cats, and exotics. It is located at 6240 Far Hills Ave. in Centerville.