Did you know that February is Spay & Neuter Awareness Month? It’s also Prevent a Litter Month, and the two go hand-in-hand!
Pets.WedMD states spaying involves removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet. Neutering is the process of removing the testicles of a male pet. These procedures are the only way to truly prevent a pet from reproducing.
According to the ASPCA, pet homelessness is a big problem in the United States. Humane Society.org states that every year, 6-8 million homeless animals enter animal shelters. Only about half get adopted. The other half are euthanized due to overcrowding. Spaying or neutering your pet is one way to help control the pet homelessness problem.
Peteducation.com states that dogs can get pregnant as early as 5 months. A dog can have up to two litters a year. On average, there are six to 10 puppies per litter. In just one year, an unsprayed female dog can have 20 puppies. That’s 20 more puppies that are potentially being added to the pet homelessness problem. There’s a chance that half of those puppies will be female, starting the cycle over again.
Cats can have their first litter as early as four months. Cats can have three litters in a year, with an average of four to six kittens per litter. In one year one unsprayed female cat can produce up to 18 kittens. The following year that same cat can produce another 18 kittens, and the female kittens from the first year’s litters can do the same.
When should I spay or neuter my pet?
According to the ASPCA, dogs should be spayed or neutered between 6 and 9 months. However, if the pet is healthy they can have the procedure done as early as 8 weeks. Cats can also be spayed or neutered as early as 8 weeks as long as they are healthy. It is suggested to spay or neuter your cat before five months in order to avoid the chance of pregnancy.
Aside from helping to minimize the number of homeless pets in the country, spaying and neutering has other benefits, including medical, behavioral, and financial.
Spaying and neutering has medical benefits. It helps reduce the risk of certain types of cancers and diseases or illnesses in pets. Spaying females helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors. These breast tumors turn out to be malignant or cancerous in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and other prostate problems. The life expectancy for spayed and neutered pets is higher than those that are unaltered. Spayed female dogs live 23% longer than those that are unsprayed. Neutered male dogs live 18% longer than those who were not neutered.
Spaying and neutering also provides some behavioral benefits. Once they’re spayed, females won’t go into heat. Cats can go into heat for 4-5 days as often as every three weeks. During this time they are likely to yowl and urinate more frequently. Neutered males are less likely to roam from home to find a mate. Males who are not neutered have a tendency to try to escape from home in search of a mate. Neutered males are also more likely to be better behaved. They are less likely to mark their territory or spray, they’re less likely to mount other animals, people, or objects, and some aggression problems may be avoided.
Spaying or neutering is highly cost effective. The cost of this one-time surgery is less than the cost of having and caring for a litter of puppies or kittens. It is also less than the cost of caring for a pet that has developed a related illness or disease. Some people believe that spaying/neutering is an expensive procedure, which is why they put it off, however this is not the case. There are a variety of low-cost services available.
The Spay and Neuter Center of New Jersey is located in Holmdel, New Jersey and offers low-cost services. You can also find low-cost spay and neutering services in your area by visiting www.friendsofanimals.org. On this website, simply input your zip code into the Spay/Neuter Program search bar and you will receive results about where you can get your pet spayed/neutered.