Spaying and Neutering – Myths and Facts

Pet overpopulation is a problem worldwide. There are more dogs than homes available, and the number of canines increases daily. Homeless dogs suffer from starvation and disease. Yet, there is a simple solution to this serious problem. Spaying and neutering pet dogs would drastically affect overpopulation. To “spay” a female animal is to remove her ovaries. When a male dog is neutered, his testicles are removed. Unfortunately, this solution only works if people use it-and too many people have the wrong idea about spaying and neutering pets. Their understanding of spaying/neutering is based on myths. Here are the facts:

Myth: Spaying/neutering makes pets lazy so they get fat.

Truth: Removing her reproductive organs doesn’t affect your pet’s metabolism. If you feed her too much and/or don’t give her enough exercise, she will get fat. Whether your dog is spayed/neutered or not, you need to monitor her weight and control her food and exercise to keep her in top health.

Myth: Female dogs should have one litter before they are spayed.

Fact: Veterinary studies show that female dogs are actually healthier if they are spayed before they ever go into heat. If a female has even one litter, it increases her chances of developing cancer later in life.

Myth: It is cruel to put a dog through the pain and discomfort.

Fact: Dogs that are spayed and neutered have a much lower risk of painful, fatal cancers of the reproductive organs. Veterinarians have found that dogs spayed/neutered as puppies-as young as 8 weeks old-recover much more quickly and need less pain medication than older dogs.

Myth: Dogs become less protective of territory if spayed or neutered.

Fact: the biggest effect spaying/neutering has on a dog’s personality is that it becomes more predictable. The lack of hormones means your dog won’t tend to roam in search of a mate, and won’t go into erratic, aggressive fits. She will, however, still have a strong sense of territory and the desire to defend it from strangers.

Myth: Watching a female dog give birth is educational for children.

Fact: The chances of children actually witnessing the birth are very small since females seek privacy when they go into labor. Observing puppies develop is fascinating, but children experience great trauma and sadness when they have to give up the friends they’ve grown attached to over eight weeks.

Myth: Having a dog spayed/neutered is expensive.

Fact: the cost of the procedure depends on the size of your dog, since the amount of anesthesia needed is based on weight. If having a private practice veterinarian perform the operation is too expensive, check with local humane societies and other animal welfare groups. They often run low-cost spay/neuter clinics so that cost doesn’t contribute to the problem of pet overpopulation.

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