Little Pet, Big Deal
Since many of you may now have a puppy or kitten at home (thanks, Santa!), it is important to understand how spaying or neutering your pet is a big part of responsible pet ownership.
Spaying, the procedure for female pets, eliminates the heat cycle or "estrus." Twice a year, dogs can go into heat for approximately 21 days. Cats can be in heat 3 to 15 days, and up to three or more cycles a year. By sterilizing a female pet, the desperate attempt to find a mate will cease. Unwelcome visits by potential male "suitors" will stop, as they will no longer be drawn to the scent of a female in heat. Almost half of unspayed dogs develop breast tumors, but virtually no tumors occur if spaying is done before the first heat cycle (usually around month 8-10). Spaying also eliminates the possibility of developing uterine or ovarian cancer.
Neutering, the procedure for males, eliminates most roaming associated with the search for a mate. This in turn reduces the risk of fights, injury, and being hit by a car. Neutered pets are more content and better behaved, and neutering reduces the urge of male dogs to mount, and male cats to mark their territory. Neutered pets are also less likely to develop prostate problems and testicular tumors.
Spaying and neutering are safe operations done by licensed veterinarians. Cats and dogs recover quickly and often don't need stitches to be removed. The cost of the procedure depends on the age, size, sex and health of the pet, and many humane societies offer discounts for this procedure. It can be done at any age (best to wait after at least 4 months of age), provided the animal is in good health, and it will also help your pet live a longer, healthier life. Give your four-legged friend a hug and a treat, and remember that you play a big role in their health.