While many pet owners know they should get their pet spayed or neutered, they aren’t always aware of the procedure’s many benefits for their pet’s health. To help illustrate the importance of spaying and neutering, we’ve created a fictional story of an entirely preventable, sad situation caused by an intact pet.
Timber’s Terrible Tale
A four-year-old husky, Timber seemed to be settling down and maturing, leaving behind his rambunctious puppy antics. He still had bursts of crazy energy and loved running and playing, but he wasn’t the best at listening to his family, especially when faced with room to roam, and scents to explore.
One day Timber was out enjoying a hike, when he detected the most enticing scent—a female dog in heat. An intact male, Timber was greatly driven by the urge to mate anytime he came across an eligible female. Desperate to reach the dog who smelled so tantalizing, Timber lunged to the end of his leash, tugged it from his owner’s grasp, bolted across a park, and disappeared into a maze of alleyways.
Frantic with worry, Timber’s owner checked her phone for his location, thankful for the GPS tracking device she had snapped onto her pup’s collar. The monthly fee was definitely worth it to keep track of a runner like Timber.
As Timber’s owner chased him down side streets, she occasionally caught a glimpse of his furry tail disappearing around buildings. Finally, the GPS tracker indicated that Timber had stopped. Timber’s owner burst around the corner, only to be met by horrible snarling sounds and an intense dogfight.
Timber was battling with another dog, clearly over the female dog nearby. As Timber’s owner rushed to separate the dogs, the stray male dog took off with Timber in hot pursuit. Heartbreakingly, Timber chased the stray across a busy street, directly into the path of a speeding vehicle. He was gone by the time his owner reached him in the middle of the street.
This terrible tale has happened many times to intact pets searching for a mate. Blinded by hormones, the drive to reproduce can ultimately prove fatal for a cat or dog, and removing hormonal urges and preventing wandering is one way that spaying and neutering keeps your pet safe. Other health benefits for your furry friend include:
- Reduced risk for some cancers — Spaying your cat or dog helps prevent mammary cancer, especially if spayed before the first heat cycle. Mammary tumors are malignant in about 50% of dogs and up to 90% of cats. Neutering your male pet can also help prevent reproductive cancers, such as testicular and prostate cancer.
- Prevention of uterine or prostate infections — Unspayed female pets often develop a uterine infection, or pyometra, after a heat cycle, or anytime their immune system is compromised. Opportunistic bacteria can quickly make your pet sick enough to require emergency surgery and hospitalization, and will likely kill your pet if untreated. Intact male pets can suffer from prostate infections, which can also be life-threatening if not caught in time.
- Decreased urge to mark territory — One of the biggest complaints about intact male cats is their urine odor, especially if they mark indoors. The tomcat-urine stench lingers long after the fact, and is incredibly difficult to eradicate, so neuter your pet to eliminate his desire for urine marking. Female pets may also mark their territory, or may urinate in unusual places when in heat, to further spread pheromones to attract a mate.
- No messy heat cycles or hormonal imbalances — Female cats will cycle until they are bred, and may develop some irritating behaviors, such as a sassy attitude and constant yowling and meowing. While cats have minimal vaginal discharge when in heat, large dogs can create a substantial mess with bloody discharge. Spay your pet to eliminate odd behavioral changes, and the need for pet diapers.
- Fewer euthanasias of homeless pets — Millions of homeless pets are still euthanized in America every year. While the number has decreased due to spaying and neutering efforts, it is still much too high. Avoid bringing more pets into the world when so many already are homeless.
Are you unsure of all the reasons, and the best age, to spay or neuter your pet? Contact us for advice.