As a pet owner, one of the best ways you can take care of your furry friend is by scheduling an appointment for their spay or neuter surgery. Intact male and female pets are at an increased risk for developing numerous health and behavior issues, but these problems can be reduced or eliminated by spaying or neutering. Read on to discover 10 reasons from our Animal Medical Center team explaining why spaying and neutering are so important to the health of our cats and dogs.

#1: Spaying greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer development in female pets

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, spaying your female pet before their first heat cycle can reduce their mammary cancer risk. Cats spayed before 6 months of age have a seven-times reduced risk of mammary cancer development, and when spayed at any age, have a 40% to 60% reduction in mammary tumor risk. A dog’s risk for developing a mammary tumor is 0.5% if spayed before their first heat, 8% after their first heat, and 26% after their second heat.

If a pet is spayed later in life, they can develop mammary cancer, even after the procedure. In female dogs, 50% of mammary tumors are benign, and 50% are malignant; however, few are fatal. In contrast, more than 85% of mammary tumors in cats are malignant and most of these are aggressive. 

#2: Neutering eliminates the risk for testicular cancer, torsion, and other issues in male pets

When a male pet is neutered, their testicles are removed, thereby removing any potential for testicular- and testosterone-related health issues. Cancer, torsion, urinary issues, prostate problems, perianal adenomas, and numerous other conditions can be avoided or resolved through neutering.

#3: Spaying eliminates hormonal behaviors in female pets

When a female pet comes into heat, it can be easy to tell by their behavior changes. Many pet owners report their female pets, particularly cats, become more vocal, clingy, affectionate, or aggressive during a heat cycle. 

#4: Spaying or neutering helps reduce or eliminate territorial marking in pets

Once your male puppy starts hiking their leg to urinate, they likely will want to pee on everything that has a previous scent marker. Neutering at the proper age can help eliminate this behavior before it becomes ingrained in your pet. Intact male cats are also notorious for urine marking inside homes, particularly around windows and doors where stray cats may lurk. Female pets also may mark their territory if other intact pets encroach on it. 

#5: Neutering helps reduce unwanted male dog behaviors

If left unneutered, male dogs are prone to exhibiting unwanted behaviors, such as mounting, roaming, and marking. Neutering your dog at an appropriate age can reduce or prevent these behaviors. 

#6: Spaying prevents bloody discharge from female pets during their heat cycle

During a female pet’s heat cycle, they may produce a bloody vaginal discharge. This discharge can be just a few drops or a heavier flow that can stain furniture and cause matted fur. 

#7: Spaying and neutering help reduce the homeless pet population

According to the ASPCA, approximately 6.3 million pets enter animal shelters nationwide each year, and almost 1 million of them are euthanized. By spaying or neutering your pet, you can avoid contributing to the pet overpopulation problem in the United States.

#8: Spaying or neutering helps reduce the urge to roam and find a mate

Dogs are more likely to experience mishaps when driven by their hormones, as they can dig under a backyard fence, slip a loose collar, or dart out an open door. However, cats also can sneak out of their homes to find a mate. Such behavior can be fatal if they are struck by a car or suffer some other mishap. But once they are no longer driven by hormones, your pet will not feel the urge to roam. 

#9: Spaying or neutering helps your pet be a better family companion

Pets who are spayed or neutered display fewer problem behaviors associated with hormones, making them more pleasant to be around. The elimination of urine marking and bloody discharge is an added benefit if your pet shares your bed. 

#10: Spaying your pet eliminates the potential for risky pregnancies

Intact female pets can experience many health issues by remaining unspayed, such as mammary cancer, uterine infections, and difficult pregnancies. If your pet is pregnant, they may struggle giving birth, which can require emergency surgery or even be fatal.  

Are you unsure when your pet should be spayed or neutered for optimal health? Contact our Animal Medical Center team to schedule an appointment.