February is here, and love is in the air. Between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, more pets are adopted and purchased than any other time of the year, to be given as gifts to family and loved ones. They are also abandoned more than any other time of the year. Every year in the United States, taxpayers and private humanitarian organizations spend over a billion dollars to capture, impound, and eventually euthanize thousands of stray, abandoned, and feral dogs and cats. With the economy taking such a downward turn, unwanted animals are becoming a very real concern in many places. Stray animals can easily become a public nuisance, soiling parks and streets, spreading disease from animal to animal and animal to human, ruining property, frightening or injuring children and elderly people, creating noise and other disturbances, causing automobile accidents, and sometimes even killing livestock or other pets.
Part of the solution to this nationwide problem is to encourage spaying and neutering all dogs and cats and other domestic pets. These simple procedures are done every day in just about every veterinary practice from coast to coast. It involves minor surgery to remove the reproductive organs, and helps to ensure that your pet does not contribute to the radical overpopulation of animal rescues and shelters. In addition to preventing the birth of unwanted pets, spaying and neutering provides a wealth of health benefits for both male and female animals.
If you are going to give a puppy, kitten, or other domestic pet this gift-giving please consider adopting from a shelter or rescue. Park Avenue Animal Hospital provides services for a number of local pet rescues that are full with puppies and kittens, as well as young adult animals, all in need of homes. In many adoption cases, your adoption fee includes spaying or neutering, vaccines and microchipping! If you are head-set on adopting a ‘pure-breed’ pet, consider that 25% of dogs and cats turned over to shelters are pure-breeds. There are also hundreds of rescue organizations tailored specifically to individual breeds of dogs and cats!
If you do decide to go with a breeder, do your homework. Go with a breeder that has a good reputation and is willing to let you see the parents, where the puppies stay, all records of immunization and deworming. Don’t bend to pressure and don’t allow breeders to guilt you into purchasing a puppy. If you don’t get a good feeling from the breeder’s home, go with your gut and find another breeder! One of the best gifts a pet can receive is the gift of good health – Consider including the cost of veterinary services such as spaying or neutering, vaccines, heartworm prevention, or other care as part of your gift!
Animal overpopulation is a problem that everyone pays for, even those that don’t have pets. It is a preventable problem, though. Through client education we hope to continue to raise awareness in the community, and give our beloved rescues the chance to place deserving pets into loving homes.
No heat cycles! No behavior changes, no mess to clean up, and no male dogs to come sniffing around. Less desire to roam, less chance of getting lost or stolen or injured. Reduces number of unwanted cats/kittens/dogs/puppies. Helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives Less desire to roam, therefore less likely to be injured in fights or auto accidents. Risk of testicular cancer is eliminated, and decreases incidence of prostate disease. Reduces number of unwanted cats/kittens/dogs/puppies. Decreases aggressive behavior, including bites to other male animals and humans. Helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives 85% of dogs hit by cars in the United States are intact males.
Female dogs and cats increase the risk of mammary tumors and pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus, with every estrus (heat) cycle.
Male intact cats that are allowed to roam have an average life expectancy of less than five years.
Due to the young age (average 7-9 months) that cats are able to reproduce, and the number of times per year they go through estrus (heat), and the number of offspring they average per birth, cats are 45 times more prolific than humans.
Dogs are 15 times more prolific than humans. They are not able to reproduce as frequently per year , however large breeds such as labs and shepherds are known for having large litters, usually of 8 or more pups.
Between 1999 and 2001, almost 5 million animals were euthanized in animal shelters across the nation, many of which may have been adoptable. They were simply the victims of overpopulation. More recent numbers suggest that number is now closer to 3 million, however even one is too many.
The average retail price of a dog spay is between $150-200, and is a one-time fee. The average cost of testing, deworming, vaccinating, feeding, certifying, and selling a litter of puppies can can get into the thousands when all is said and done, and you’re not guaranteed to get your investment back by selling the pups. Spaying a dog with pyometra, when factoring in hospitalization, medication, fluids, and surgery, can be between $600-1000.
Many state and local animal control, humane society, and independently-run rescue organizations have low-cost spay/neuter programs for those families who can’t afford to pay the full price of surgery at the local vet, so there is never an excuse to not spay or neuter your pet.
The idea that your dog or cat will gain weight after spaying or neutering is a misnomer. Yes, pets do gain some weight with sexual alteration, however if you do a little research ahead of time and put your pet on a high quality, low-calorie food, and exercise them regularly, your pet should live a long, healthy, svelte life!
Male dogs and cats do not feel less ‘manly’ when they are neutered. In fact, they have no sexual identity or ego like humans do, and when neutered early in life (at or around 6 months of age), they never know the difference.