Neutering: A Necessary Evil or Good for Pets?

By Joe Musielak, DVM

As often as you hear Veterinarians recommending that you spay or neuter your pet you would think that we have something against puppies and kittens. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all deeply love the chance to have our first meeting with a young furry bundle of joy. It’s one of the best things about being a Veterinarian.

We also know that pet overpopulation is definitely a problem. When pets overpopulate not all of the kittens and puppies get good homes. An average female dog can produce 160 puppies over the course of her lifetime. An average female cat can produce 180 kittens over her lifetime. As you can imagine producing that many offspring would be very physically draining for the mother. It’s very difficult to know that an unplanned litter may end up in a shelter and not get adopted or be simply abandoned.

In addition to population control, neutering your pet has some very real benefits. Female dogs that have been spayed have a dramatically reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian, uterine cancer and life threatening uterine infections. Breast cancer is the number one cancer diagnosed in dogs.

Male dogs that are neutered are less likely to develop prostate issues as well.  Neutering your male dog or cat greatly reduces their tendency to mark your home with urine.

Intact pets (not spayed or neutered) also tend to roam. They have the hormonal drive that encourages them to seek out a mate. A male dog or cat will travel many miles to find a female in heat. During this time they will cross many roads and run the risk of being hit by a car. Being hit by a car can cost 10-20 times as much as a spay or neuter assuming your pet survives the encounter with the motor vehicle.

They will very likely encounter other males seeking out the same female. Fights are very likely to arise. A small ten pound male dog will definitely come out with severe and in some cases life threatening injuries if they encounter a larger competitor.  Large dogs are not immune to injuries inflicted by a roaming pack.

Similarly, a ten-pound female dog is very likely to be injured by a sixty-pound male dog.  That’s assuming that only one dog is able to get to her. If a fight arises she is equally likely to be drawn in and suffer severe injuries. Then there is the matter of delivering the puppies. A female dog bred to a larger male dog is very likely to require a c-section. Although we honestly love doing C-sections they cost approximately 5-10 times as much as a spay. 

Female dogs and cats that are in heat will also roam if there are no males in the immediate area. Thus exposing them to being hit by a car or being attacked by larger animals.

Females and males also run the risk of being picked up by Animal Control while roaming and there are fees for getting your pet back.

If you choose to keep your pet intact please be aware of the potential consequences.