Why Should I Spay My Pet?

Although many of us take for granted that we will spay our female 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 spayed. 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.
Spaying your pet, however, continues to have a number of long term benefits. The obvious first benefit of having your pet spayed is the decrease in the pet population. Unwanted pets fill our animal shelters. There is no evidence to support that being pregnant and delivering a litter has any positive impact on your female pets wellness or personality development. Families that want to provide their children with the ‘miracle’ of witnessing pups or kittens born should think twice. Not all births are without complications. Sometimes pregnancy can lead to costly complications and loss of a pet.The better messages to teach your children are  the responsibility of pet ownership and the importance of limiting pet over population.
When pets are in heat (receptive to the male) can be challenging and labor intensive. They have behavior changes, attract males  and are more likely to escape and roam away from home.
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. In breeding your extraordinary dog or cat you may also be placing them at risk of many preventable illnesses. Spaying your pet also removes the risk of mammary cancer. If a pet is spayed prior to her first heat she has a 0% chance of developing mammary cancer, after her first heat it increases by 7% and after her second heat her risk of developing mammary cancer has increased by 25%. In dogs 50% of all mammary cancer is malignant, in cats 80%. The risk of ovarian and uterine cancers is also eradicated as well as the risk of pyometria (uterine infections) when the pet is spayed. All of these illnesses are costly and potentially fatal, however they are easily avoided.
Spaying 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 spaying 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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