Stop Killing Animals, Spay & Neuter Your Pets
Why spay and neuter pets?
Spaying or neutering your pet is the right thing to do. There are both medical and behavioral benefits to spaying (female pets) and neutering (male pets).
Spaying and neutering has a number of benefits for your pet and our city:
Having a large litter can lead a pet owner to need to give away puppies and kittens. Unaltered pets have an increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, getting struck by cars and other accidents. They can easily end up hurt or in an animal shelter. 13,337 stray pets ended up in Austin’s shelters in 2015.
Though Austin’s shelters do not euthanize pets (our city earned the title of the “largest no-kill city in America”), we all share the goal of reducing the number of homeless pets, which can cause overcrowding and strains the shelters’ resources.
Spaying and neutering curbs bad pet behavior early:
An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house. Male dogs who have been neutered may be less likely to roam away from home.
Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking (lifting his leg and peeing all over the place) than neutered dogs. Although it is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it, too.
Your spayed female pet won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season starting at about six months of age. In an effort to advertise for mates, they yowl and urinate more frequently (and everywhere).
Spaying/neutering solves an estimated 90 percent of all marking issues, even in pets that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam and males fighting with other males. In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you may run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.
Spaying and neutering improves your pet’s health and longevity:
Altered pets have reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a greater chance of developing pyometra, a fatal uterine infection, uterine cancer, and other cancers of the reproductive system and mammary glands. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. Neutering your male pet prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Spaying/neutering keeps your pet healthier and saves on the cost of pet care.
Myths about spaying or neutering and pet behavior:
Like with humans, a lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to gain weight, not neutering.
Neutering is not as a “quick fix” for all behavior problems. Although neutering your pet often reduces undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone, there’s no guarantee that your male dog’s behavior will change once he’s neutered. The effects of neutering are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology and history.
When should you spay or neuter your pet?
- Healthy puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered. Prior to age six months is commonly recommended.
- Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of postoperative complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight or dogs that have health problems.
- Kittens as young as eight weeks old are often spayed or neutered. (In some animal shelters, this surgery is often performed at this time so that kittens can be sterilized prior to adoption.) In an effort to avoid the start of urine spraying and eliminate the chance for pregnancy, it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your cat reaches five months of age. It’s possible to spay a female cat while she’s in heat.
Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best time to spay or neuter your pet. Your vet team will provide pre-surgical advice that you should follow, including feeding schedules. They also provide post-operative instructions for you to follow. Although your pet may experience some discomfort after surgery, your veterinarian can take various measures to control pain.