Despite the many benefits for both animals and their owners, there are myths about spaying and neutering your pets that find ways to circulate in our communities. The truth is, it’s important to spay and neuter your pets for health and behavioral reasons. Plus, sterilizing dogs and cats helps curb pet overpopulation and animal homelessness, and that’s our mission here at Florida Animal Friend.
That’s why we want to help educate pet owners by dispelling myths and calling attention to some common misinformation you might hear when discussing spaying and neutering your pets with a friend.
Myth: Spaying or neutering pets causes them to gain weight.
This myth persists even though spaying and neutering do not in any way cause animals to gain weight. Obesity in cats and dogs is due to lack of exercise, overfeeding or both. The easiest way to keep your dog or cat at a healthy weight is to help them eat right and get plenty of exercise.
Myth: It’s not healthy for dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered.
False. It’s perfectly healthy! In fact, neutering your male pet can prevent testicular tumors and various prostate problems. It also decreases the possibility of perianal tumors and hernias, which are commonly found in older, unaltered dogs. In female dogs and cats, spaying can prevent malignant breast tumors, as well as uterine cancer and uterine infections that can put your pet’s life in jeopardy.
Myth: Females should have at least one heat cycle before being spayed.
This is another myth that continues to spread via word-of-mouth wisdom, but it’s simply not true. Spaying a pet before her first estrous cycle greatly decreases her chances of getting breast cancer. It also totally removes the possibility that she develops uterine or ovarian cancer and uterine infections. All of these conditions are common in unaltered females.
Spaying and neutering should typically occur in the first six months of an animal’s life. Many veterinarians now sterilize healthy cats and dogs as young as eight weeks old. Cats can reproduce as young as four months old, and if they aren’t spayed, they can go into heat as often as four to five days every three weeks. When this happens, they will vocalize more and urinate inappropriately in an effort to find a mate, which can be very unpleasant for any owner.
Myth: The procedure can cause unwanted behavioral changes.
Actually, the opposite is true. Not having your pet neutered can lead to undesirable behavior in male cats and dogs. The procedure can help prevent bad behaviors later in life, including general aggression, roaming to find a mate, unwanted mounting of other animals and objects, and marking their territory with very strong-smelling urine. This is why working dogs and service dogs are sterilized. It minimizes distractions, helping to keep them attentive and focused.
Myth: Male animals don’t feel as masculine once they are neutered.
This is one of the most pervasive myths about spaying and neutering pets. But the truth is, there is no evidence that male dogs and cats have any concept of ego or sexual identity, so the procedure will not change your pet’s fundamental personality. In fact, as we learned from the last myth, any behavioral changes after neutering are likely to be welcome. Sterilized pets are not only more affectionate but also less likely to bite, run away or be aggressive.
Myth: Selling puppies or kittens will surely turn a profit.
There are many costs associated with raising a litter that the average pet owner is unaware of, such as the cost of vaccinations, other veterinary care, and high-quality food. Often, these expenses will be greater than any eventual sales revenue.
Myth: It’s expensive to have your pets spayed and neutered.
The cost of a spay/neuter surgery is much lower than the cost of raising a litter of puppies or kittens, as well as the potential cost for treating any of the cancers and conditions mentioned above. Plus, there are hundreds of low-cost facilities across Florida where you can get your pet sterilized. Many of these facilities are supported by nonprofit organizations like Florida Animal Friend! That means there are plenty of affordable options available to you! To find a clinic in your area, call your local humane society or animal service agency.
Learn More About Florida Animal Friend
Now that you know some of the myths about spaying and neutering your pets, tell your friends! Spreading the facts is a great way to fight pet overpopulation and homelessness. Want to do more to support the cause? You can buy one of our license plates, make a donation to Florida Animal Friend or, of course, spay and neuter your pets!