Unfortunately, there are a lot of common misconceptions about spaying and neutering that scare people away from acquiring this important procedure for their pets. Read on to learn more about the realities of sterilization surgery.
Myth: Female dogs and cats should have at least one litter to be healthy and happy.
Fact: Many years ago, veterinarians believed that an animal should produce a litter to "mature her," but this is no longer believed to be true. In fact, it's actually healthier for dogs and cats to be spayed prior to their first heat cycle (4 months for cats, 6 months for dogs). Several illnesses, including mammary tumors, are virtually unheard of in animals who are spayed early.
Myth: Animals can't get pregnant before their first heat cycle.
Fact: By the time an animal shows signs of her first heat cycle, she would already have been fertile for at least a short time. And even those who believe in breeding dogs and cats feel it is irresponsible to let an animal this young become pregnant.
Myth: Neutering a male will strip him of his "masculinity".
Fact: Your dog doesn't have an emotional attachment to his sexuality, and won't miss anything once he's neutered. Because neutered dogs and cats are less aggressive, roam less frequently, and rarely mark with urine, you'll have a happier, mellower, and better-smelling pet.
Myth: Spaying or neutering my pet will make her fat and lazy.
Fact: Overfeeding animals and depriving them of enough exercise will make them fat and lazy. As animals age, they generally require fewer calories, and their diets should be adjusted accordingly. And while older pets may not require the same high-level exercise that a puppy or kitten needs, they should have daily exercise built into their schedules to keep them healthy, active, and happy.
Myth: Spay-neuter surgeries are expensive.
Fact: The cost of caring for just one litter of puppies or kittens will far outweigh the one-time cost of this important surgery. You'll not just save money in the long run, you'll save time and energy, too. It's a lot of work to find responsible homes for an entire litter.
Myth: My family should experience the miracle of birth.
Fact: While it might be exciting for your children to witness the birth of a litter of puppies or kittens, this momentary miracle is quickly replaced by the overwhelming responsibility of feeding and cleaning the babies and mom, providing them with necessary medical care, and finding caring homes to take them all.
Myth: The surgery is dangerous and/or painful.
Fact: Spay-neuter surgeries are the most routine surgeries performed in the veterinary world, and also very safe. They are typically very quick, too. Most pets are awake and alert, walking and eating within a few hours of the surgery. Animals are prescribed pain medication after the surgery, as needed. Complications are not common, especially when the owner follows all post-surgical care guidelines (restrict heavy activity for a few weeks, check the incision site daily...)
To read more about how spay-neuter is actually performed, and for answers to your questions about the safety of the surgery, click here.