Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

The birth of a litter of puppies or kittens is certainly a miracle to behold. But it’s time for a reality check - there are simply not enough homes for all the puppies and kittens being born. As a responsible owner, it is your duty to show true compassion for your dog or cat by having your pet spayed (for females) or neutered (for males) before 6 months of age.

Urban Myths

There are people who would give you all kinds of reasons why you should not alter your pets and even quote medical research to back up their claims. But, if you look closely, you will find that the “research” is not accepted by the major canine health professional bodies in the world. Some of the myths surrounding spaying and neutering are:

  • The dog will get fat: FALSE. Because neutering can help to calm a testosterone-driven dog, he can sometimes become less active after neutering and this might cause him to put on weight.  However, it is up to the owner to either adjust the quantity or type of food being offered, and arrange for the dog to get his exercise in other ways.
  • Not being able to have at least one litter of puppies or kittens will cause the female to become neurotic and depressed.  FALSE.  This is like saying that not having a child will cause a human woman to become neurotic and depressed.  There is no medical evidence to substantiate this claim.
  • I want my children to experience the miracle of birth.  You should be more interested in having your children learn what it means to be a responsible adult.  There are no figures available for Trinidad and Tobago, but in the United States it is estimated that over 8 million dogs are destroyed every year because they could not find homes. Allowing an animal to be born, knowing that it will probably be killed, is irresponsible.

Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Dog

  1. Altered dogs and cats, on average, live longer, healthier lives.
  2. Female dogs spayed before their first birthday are 99.9 percent less likely to develop reproductive cancer.
  3. Spaying dramatically reduces the animal’s risk of developing uterine infections, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer
  4. Neutered males have far fewer prostate problems (including cysts, abscesses, and prostate cancer) than do unaltered males, and they can’t develop testicular cancer.
  5. Eighty percent of dogs struck by vehicles are unaltered males
  6. The males are less likely to roam, fight, demonstrate aggressiveness (the majority of dog bites are from unaltered male dogs), or display hyperactive behaviour.
  7. Altered dogs behave better and are more focused on training.
  8. You’ll help to stop overpopulation. One female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in just six years.
  9. You’ll help to stop homelessness. Only one in four dogs find a permanent, loving home. Even though puppies may be adopted, a lot are relinquished to shelters when they reach maturity.
  10. You’ll help to lower the death rate. Thousands of dogs and cats are destroyed each year in Trinidad and Tobago – many in very inhumane ways - because there are not enough homes for them.

Tips on Spaying/Neutering

  • Thanks to improved surgical and anaesthesia equipment and techniques, you can spay a female or neuter a male as early as 8 weeks of age. Schedule the surgical appointment select a time when you will be home for a couple of days after the surgery—weekends are good—so that you can provide comfort and reassurance to your healing friend.
  • Make sure and give the dog the post-operative pain killers that are prescribed.  People used to believe that if a dog is not crying, he or she is not in pain.  This has been found to be untrue as dogs that are suffering chronic pain seldom make any sound at all.

More Myths about Spaying and Neutering

MYTH: My dog is a purebred.
FACT: Many dogs abandoned in the street or turned in to animal shelters around the country are purebred. There are just too many dogs bred, both mixed breed and purebred.

MYTH: My dog will not be protective if I neuter him.
FACT: A dog’s natural instinct to protect his home and family is not affected by spaying or neutering. A dog’s personality owes much more to genetics and environment than sex hormones. 

MYTH: I don’t want my male dog to feel like less of a male.
FACT: Dogs have no concept of sexual identity or ego and neutering does not change a dog’s basic personality. He doesn’t suffer in any way when neutered. 

MYTH: My dog is so special; I want a puppy just like her.
FACT: A professional dog breeder, whose bloodlines stretch back for generations, has no guarantee of getting a particular characteristic from a litter. The dog owner’s chances are even slimmer. In fact, a whole litter of puppies might wind up getting only the worst characteristics of your pet dog and her mate.

MYTH: Spaying and neutering is too expensive.
FACT: The cost of spaying or neutering is based on the age, size, and sex of the dog, your veterinarian’s fees, and other variables. However, spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost, and if you factor in the many benefits, such as improved health throughout your dog’s lifetime, it is a relatively small charge. It’s a bargain compared to the costs associated with raising a litter of puppies, such as exams for the mother dog, puppy checks and vaccinations, the extra food you need, etc. If complications arise and you need emergency veterinary services, the costs could rise into the thousands. There is also the amount of time you will need to devote to the mother dog and her babies; two months of pregnancy followed by two more months before the puppies are weaned and ready to go to new homes. Most importantly, the price is small when compared to the satisfaction of knowing that you are not contributing to the very real problem of too many dogs and too few homes available for them. You can also check with your local animal welfare organizations. Many of them offer low-cost spay and neuter services.

MYTH: I have good homes available for all of the puppies.
FACT: True, you may have homes for your puppies, but for every home you find, there is one less home available for a shelter dog. Moreover, do you have guarantees that the people who take your puppies will not breed them and thus add even more dogs to the problem? Remember, the dog overpopulation problem is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.