Some loving pet owners struggle with the decision of spaying or neutering their pets. The procedure can be costly, and may seem excessive for pets that are mostly kept inside or under control. Is it required or recommended for all animals? What are the pros and cons? Below, we’ve discussed the most important advantages and disadvantages of neutralizing your pet so that you can make the right decision for your household.
What is a spay or neuter?
A spay or neuter is the act of removing your pet’s reproductive abilities. A female pet’s procedure is called a spay, and a male pet’s procedure is called a neuter. Both of these surgeries are considered routine and even required in many situations where you adopt animals from a rescue organization.
Many animal rights organizations will recommend these procedures both for the greater good of the animal overpopulation crisis as well as for your individual pet’s health and quality of life.
What are the pros of a spay or neuter?
Some of the main advantages of a spay or neuter are below. These are relevant for cats and dogs both.
- Reduces mammary cancer: Having your female pet spayed can help reduce mammary cancer due to the lower hormonal levels. Intact (unspayed) female pets can have higher and fluctuating hormones, which can increase the risk of mammary cancer.
- Reduces aggression: Having your male pet neutered can help reduce aggression that can be caused, in part, by high testosterone levels. Male pets are especially territorial and can be aggressive to other pets if they are intact (unneutered). While it doesn’t stop aggression and isn’t a cure for behavioral issues, it can help quiet your animal down a bit more.
- Reduces unnecessary vet bills: Pet pregnancy happens very easily and quickly. It also can be very costly since you’ll want to have their health and pregnancy progress monitored at a vet. You’ll also most likely want to have vet check-ups done on the babies before you allow them to be adopted. Some dogs and cats, including certain breeds, often cannot give birth naturally and need surgical intervention with a c-section to deliver. Owners must be prepared for the greater cost of this surgery, and to take care of the mother and babies afterwards..
The other thing is that intact pets can have additional health conditions, as mentioned above. These can lead to more vet appointments and treatment. These can add up significantly during your pet’s lifetime.
- Could increase lifespan: Speaking of lifespan, spaying or neutering your pet can help extend it! Since neutralized pets have better health profiles, it can help your pet enjoy long years with your family. While this isn’t a guarantee, and you still need to focus on proper health and diet, it’s a great advantage to consider!
- Helps your pet enjoy life more: Hormonal fluctuations and heat cycles can interrupt and interfere with your pet’s quality of life. You’ll also find that you’ll need to monitor your unneutered male pet or unspayed female pet more often since they both will have the biological impulse to escape the home and find someone to mate with.
You’ll also need to take extra care to keep your own female and male pets apart during heat cycles since it’s very common for pregnancies to happen in the home!
- Helps reduce overpopulation: Many parts of the world are overpopulated with pets, and neutralizing your pet’s reproduction ability helps ensure the population doesn’t grow even more. It helps prevent stray pets and helps ensure each pet can have a loving home.
What are the cons of a spay or neuter?
Of course, there are some very real and important disadvantages to consider when looking at getting a spay or neuter for your pets. The essential ones to understand are below.
- Anesthesia can be a risk, albeit extremely low: In both cats and dogs, and both females and males, there can be some degree of risk with anesthesia. Some pets don’t react well to it, and it can lead to complications during surgery and recovery afterward.
- Reduced hormones can lead to a need for weight management: There is a slight chance that reduced hormones in your pet can make them more prone to obesity. You’ll need to keep them on a healthy diet and really prioritize the need for exercise. This isn’t major enough to worry about in and of itself, but it is a great reason to work closely with your vet to help monitor your pet’s health long-term.
Is it best to spay or neuter your pet?
When you see the advantages and the disadvantages together, it’s easy to see that the pros do outweigh the cons just by the sheer amount. However, those cons are notable. Is it worth it to consider the surgery?
In most cases, the advantages to the animal population and your pet’s individual health do actually win. They are substantial enough that the cons are secondary when planning out what’s best for your pet.
Many pet parents find that talking with their vet about the disadvantages, in particular, can really help alleviate a lot of the worry that they might be feeling, too.
The other thing to consider is that spay and neutering are two of the most common procedures done in vet medicine. These are very common and routine surgeries, and vet surgical teams are well-versed in them.
How to make the decision
The final decision will ultimately be yours. Your pet is a member of your family, and the best one to decide what is best for your household is you! Talking to your vet is definitely a great idea, since they can often help answer a lot of questions and address concerns, as mentioned.
Talk it over with the other household members, too, to see what they prefer. If you have a busy household, having to constantly keep an eye on an intact pet can add an extra burden. And dealing with unplanned, unexpected pet pregnancies and babies can really be a struggle! The main thing is to have the facts and professional advice you need to make an informed decision for your pet’s life and your household!