Animal shelters are overloaded with unwanted, healthy cats and dogs who are often euthanized due to lack of space and resources. It is up to pet owners and animal lovers to take responsibility when it comes to preventing unwanted offspring. Spaying or neutering your pet is highly recommended by veterinarians and animal welfare experts. It helps prevent more unwanted animals ending up on the street or in shelters. It is also hugely beneficial for your animal’s health.
Reports suggest that pets that have been spayed or neutered tend to live longer than those that have not. This is applicable to both male and female animals. One reason for the increased lifespan of neutered animals may be because their need to explore and roam about is reduced upon neutering. This lowers their chances of getting into fights with other animals and being in road accidents.
Getting your pet spayed also helps them dodge the risk of developing diseases associated with the reproductive system such as pyrometra (a uterine infection that can be deadly), uterine cancer in females and testicular cancer in males. This is not just physically taxing for an animal, it can also be emotionally, physically and financially draining for the owner to take care of a seriously ill pet. So, spending money on neutering now can effectively save you tenfold in the future. [Read about an exception for golden retrievers below.]
Some vets recommend neutering your pet early on, even as young as eight weeks old, but more usually by six months of age. It is thought that spaying female dogs or cats before their first heat occurs is even more beneficial to their health.
In addition to health benefits, neutering your pet can also result in many positive behavioural changes. Male dogs, and some females as well, often mark their territory with urine. They do this to assert dominance or ease their stress by marking areas or things that don’t seem familiar. It can get especially frustrating when your dog does this in the house. However, a neutered dog is very unlikely to be so territorial and to urine-mark. Neutered dogs are also less likely to display other traits to show dominance such as mounting and constant barking, and they are generally less aggressive than unneutered pets.
Cats urine-mark as well. Getting a cat fixed before it is four months old is the best way to avoid it urine-marking in your home. It also calms the animals down, easing up their roaming and fighting instincts. And it tends to reduce their howling or crying.
There may be an exception to the health benefits of neutering when it comes to golden retrievers. Research from the University of California, Davis in the US looked at this particular breed and found that animals neutered before 6 months were at 4 to 5 times higher risk of developing joint disorders, such as hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear, and elbow dysplasia. In female goldens, neutering after the age of 6 months increased the chances by 3 to 4 times of developing lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumor, forms of cancer which are common in the breed. The research has provoked a lot of controversy, and so far it has not been generalized to other breeds. If you are considering neutering your golden retriever, check with your veterinarian to see what would be the best option.
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