Puppies and kittens are adorable! Who doesn’t love to see their cute little waddles as they attempt to navigate their big new world? It comes as no surprise then that 78 million pooches and 85.8 million kitties are members of human households in America. In fact, 44 percent of American households have at least one dog and 35 percent have at least one cat.
However, did you also know that animal shelters take in roughly 6.5 million pets every year? Of these animals, 3.2 million are cats and 3.3 million are dogs. However, rabbits, guinea pigs and other companion animals are often surrendered, as well. If you’re currently entertaining warm and fuzzy ideas of how many of these animals get adopted, the unfortunate truth is that shelters euthanize 1.5 million animals every year.
The good news is that this is a steep decline from where numbers stood in 2011. This is partially due to increased awareness of the importance of spaying and neutering our pets. There is no better way to curb the growth of stray animals than to ensure we never have to care for more than we can handle. So, in celebration of National Prevent a Litter Month, here are just some of the many other reasons you should, really, really, get around to spaying or neutering your pets.
Your Pets Will Thank You
Some pet owners refuse to spay or neuter their pets because they think it’s cruel. However, like any medical procedure, a little discomfort can go a long way to prolonging an animal’s life. Ask any vet and they will tell you that neutering or spaying lengthens your pet’s lifespan. In fact, in 2013, a USA today article reported that the states in America where pets were most likely to be spayed or neutered were the states where pets lived the longest.
This fact tends to be mostly associated with female cats and dogs, due to the taxing demands of giving birth. In addition to this, spaying a cat or dog before she ever enters her first heat cycle reduces uterine infections and breast cancer. These two diseases are fatal in 90 percent of felines and 50 percent of canines.
However, male cats and dogs benefit, too. They become less aggressive and are less likely to roam. Outdoor Tom cats especially should be spayed to prevent them from getting into fights with other cats. If injured, he could contract Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Yes, that’s actually a thing. The silver lining here is that it cannot be passed on to humans, dogs, or other animals.
You’ll Save Yourself a LOT of Trouble—and Money!
One of the worst times to be a fur parent is when your cat or dog is in heat. Things can go from annoying to awkward really quickly. Female cats go into heat every three weeks for four to five days and the constant yowling is enough to make you actually consider letting her out. They may also begin to urinate around the house and may get up way too close for comfort, backing their rumps against you. A female dog may not yowl, but the awkward meter can range just as high, especially if you have male dogs in the household.
You’ll be thrilled about spaying your male dogs and cats, too. Male cats and dogs have a strong desire to mark their territory by urinating, sometimes even inside your house. The only known way to curb it is by neutering them as soon as possible. Neutering also curbs the following undesirable behaviors in dogs:
- Aggression, as studies show that unaltered dogs are more likely to bite
- Mounting, loud barking, and other macho behaviors
- Attempts to escape the house to chase females in heat
Another reason you’ll be personally glad you neutered and spayed is the fact that you are more likely to be spared from replacing peed-upon furniture, and if you’re renting, you’re now more likely to get that rent deposit back. You are also less likely to spend money on expensive vet bills for reproductive diseases, or worse, surgery bills for an escaped pooch or feline being hit by a car.
When to Spay or Neuter
The best time to spay or neuter your pets is when they’re young. Kittens can be spayed by as young as eight weeks old. Traditionally, dogs are spayed at anywhere from six to nine months old. However, the ASPCA recommends that they, too, can be spayed at eight weeks old, provided that they are healthy. Both cats and dogs can be spayed or neutered as adults. In fact, virtually all shelters perform these procedures on animals they take in, regardless of age.
If you’re worried that spaying and neutering options may only be available for cats and dogs, this actually isn’t true. Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and many other animals can also be spayed to enjoy similar benefits. However, you will need to find a veterinarian who is experienced in dealing with “exotic animals”.
Where to Spay or Neuter
If you are the proud owner of a shelter animal, then there’s a 99 percent chance your pet has already been spayed or neutered. For everyone else, we recommend this handy tool provided by the Spay Mass Referral Program to help you find a low-cost spay/neuter clinic near you.
Have a happy National Prevent a Litter Month! If you are a new puppy owner who could use an extra hand, give us a call at 781-922-1707 and ask us about our puppy packages. Our rates start as low as $30 per day!
Shadow the PR Cat is the pompous PR puss at Alexis Chateau PR. His job includes tweeting, taking
selfies, rolling in catnip, and advocating for animal rights. Follow his kitty adventures on Twitter and
Instagram as @ShadowThePRcat.