Why Should I Neuter My Cat or Dog?

Although many of us take for granted that we will neuter our male pets, there has been a growing community of individuals that have questioned the necessity, safety, and long consequences of having our pet cats and dogs neutered. We, as veterinarians, encourage this sort of discourse, because we never want to allow a procedure to continue to be performed or a medication continue to be administered just because it’s the way we have always done things. It is important to us that we remain aware of new procedures and new standards of care at all times. We want everything that we recommend and do to be in the very best interest of our patients and our clients.
 
Neutering your pet, however, continues to have a number of long term benefits. The obvious first benefit of having your pet neutered is the decrease in the pet population. Unwanted pets fill our animal shelters.
Also intact (un-neutred ) male dogs and cats are prone to escaping their homes and yards to roam the neighborhood where they are likely to become injured or be exposed to infectious diseases. Many people choose to wait on neutering their male dogs and cats in hopes that they will develop more masculine features. Along with the development of these features come more masculine behaviors that may include aggression, destructive behavior and inappropriate urination. Unfortunately once these individuals are a year of age and manifesting these behaviors, they have become ingrained (permanent) and neutering that pet will not lead to the eradication of the undesirable behaviors.
 
Some people want to breed their dog or cat because they feel that the pet is so extraordinary that they want another pet just like them. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that there will be any off spring that are similar to their parents, just as it is true with our human offspring. However there are certain health benefits other than the diminished risk of injury and infectious disease when a pet is neutered. By neutering your pet prostatic disease is limited and the risk of testicular cancer is eradicated.
 
Neutering you pet does not lead to weight gain. Increased feeding and decreased activity cause weight gain. As your pet matures, it is important that you monitor their weight and respond to changes to prevent weight gain by decreasing feedings and increasing activity.
 
There have been some recent studies looking at groups of both Golden Retrievers and Viszulas and comparing the rate of certain cancers within neutered and intact (un-neutered) dogs within these populations. Although these studies found an increase in certain cancers within the neutered populations, there were some problems with the populations being examined. The groupings of dogs studied were skewed (increased bias) and the diseases that they were examining are known to be influenced by many factors, rather than just one, like neutering. Larger and better structured studies will be necessary to examine this issue further. However, a 2013 study published by Hoffman, Creevy and Promislow (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0061082) did demonstrate that neutered pets lived longer lives
 
At VCS and VCS Pets First we continue to recommend neutering our canine and feline patients. We feel that the potential health benefits and the improved long term survival of our patients speaks for itself. However, should a client choose not to spay their pet, we will continue to assist them in making the best health choices possible for their pet and assist both client and patient in every way possible.
 
As always, you can rest assured that we will continue to remain aware of the current research on this topic and provide you with the very best recommendations for the care of your pet. 

Posted on October 16, 2015
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