Should You Spay And Neuter?

If William Shakespeare owned a cat or dog, he would perhaps quill the line, To spay or not to spay, that is the question. Despite all the information out there, it is still something people ask, and nevertheless, have their reasons not to. Such as:

  • Old standing beliefs 
  • Breeding for shows or profit
  • Financial constraints
  • Fear their pet will not survive the operation

According to The Humane Society of the United States, almost 3 million dogs get euthanized every year because shelters are full. As a result, many states have proposed mandatory spay and neuter laws to cut overpopulation, allowing exemptions for groups such as the police, professional breeders, show/sporting animals, or guide dogs. 

Mexico has an estimated 18 million dogs. A mammoth 70% of that total – 12.6 million – live on the streets, either born as strays, abandoned, lost, or just left to roam free, the highest number of street dogs in Latin America. A further Seventy percent of strays (8.8 million) will tragically die alone before their 2nd birthday. Before they pass over the rainbow bridge, many will reproduce, exasperating the problem further. 

In Mexico City, approximate numbers are close to 1.2 million street dogs, with an estimated 20,000 euthanized every month. These dogs face death by electrocution, as euthanasia drugs are largely unavailable.

There are 6.5 million owned cats in Mexico. Stray or feral populations are unknown or impossible to count. Poisonings are frequent, and many neighborhood cats fall foul to this type of cruelty. 

How Many Are Too Many?

So when it comes to reproduction, how much of an extended family can one cat or dog have?

Over a six-year timeframe, one female dog and her puppies can have upwards of 67,000 offspring. 

The statistics for cats are even more staggering. One unspayed female cat, including its mate, and all her offspring producing two litters per year, over eight years, has the potential to reproduce over 2 million times. 2 MILLION!

To Spay Or Not To Spay – Is It An Easy Answer?

The Benefits

Spay and neutering is a process where (in this case) a cat or dog has a simple operation that takes away their ability to reproduce.

The benefits may be obvious but let us look again at why PEACEAnimals and other groups such as Sandee’s Project, SPCA, Colina, and San Pancho Animales organize FREE spay and neuter clinics in Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas.

  • Certain types of cancer and other health issues:- Spaying will eliminate the possibility that your female pet will develop uterine, cervical, or ovarian cancer. It also reduces the chances of developing breast cancer – a disease with a 50% survival rate in dogs and a 1-year survival rate of less than 10 percent in cats.

Similarly, neutering your male dog or cat prevents them from developing testicular cancer.

TVT, a highly infectious form of canine cancer found in tropical or subtropical climates and is more likely in unaltered, sexually active dogs.

Spaying and neutering will reduce the risk of other diseases such as pyometra, an infection of the uterus that is considered life-threatening in dogs and cats.

Neutering reduces the chances of developing an enlarged prostate in both cats and dogs. A male dog neutered before puberty will not develop its prostate gland and neutered male dogs have less of a chance of perianal tumors.

  • Reduced marking behavior, including inside the home, can be reduced by almost 50-60%
  • Dealing with a dog in heat can be messy (blood spots). There are also behavioral issues due to hormonal changes, and your dog may try to escape or wander. 

Some vets recommend spaying before the first heat cycle, stating this will further reduce the risk of disease in cats and dogs.

  • An un-neutered male dog will try to escape if he smells a female in heat. Dogs can smell a female in heat up to 3 miles away. Castration will lessen the chance of roaming.
  • Spay and neutering reduce costs:
  1. Soaring vet bills for overseeing the care of a pregnant cat or dog and their babies, including future vaccinations. 
  2. Higher insurance costs. 
  3. Treatment costs due to disease risk.
  4. Boarding fees can be higher, and some daycare centers or training programs will not accept unaltered dogs.
  • Reduction of pet overpopulation:- There are far too many dogs and cats on the streets, in shelters, and foster homes awaiting adoption. Spay and neuter clinics can help lower overpopulation.
  • Local fauna: Cats are hunters, and stray cats, in particular, will hunt for food creating a devastating effect on local wildlife, with native species being drastically reduced in numbers or disappearing altogether. 
  • The, just one litter myth:- Early spaying can reduce cancer risks substantially, not to mention the risks of complications during pregnancy, the birth process, and possible illnesses during nursing.
  • Neutering or spaying will make your dog fat:- Although there is some evidence to suggest weight gain after neutering male dogs, a healthy diet and exercise will negate this. Overfeeding, human junk food, treats, and lack of exercise are the primary causes of increased weight gain. 
  • They live longer. Studies have shown that altered dogs live, on average, two years longer than unaltered dogs, and spayed female cats may live up to 39% longer, with neutered male cats living 62% longer
  • Spay and Neutered pets are happier. See all of the above!

Drawbacks To Spay And Neuter

It was once the norm to leave your dog intact, but overpopulation and risk of disease swayed the majority of owners and veterinarians towards spaying and neutering. But are there health issues from sterilizing your dog? 

  • New research indicates larger dogs may have a greater possibility of joint disorders such as hip dysplasia and other orthopedic injuries. Reproductive hormones from sex organs repair damage to joints and tendons and maintain bone strength. When they are removed the body is unable to do this as effectively. 
  • Increased aggression and fear-related behavior:- New studies have revealed that fixed dogs may be more aggressive and display a wide range of fear-based behavior.
  • Some cancers may be more likely after the spay and neuter.

What’s The Answer?

While there are risks to spaying and neutering, the benefits can outweigh the risks in terms of certain diseases and health issues.

Whether to sterilize your animal should perhaps be taken on a case-by-case basis. To reduce overpopulation, it is clearly an effective method. But for responsible owners, it may not be necessary, and careful thought and research are imperative before going ahead with the procedure. Some vets will recommend early sterilization, while others advise waiting until your pet is fully grown, up to two years in giant breed puppies.

And Shakespeare? He mentions dogs over 200 times in some of his plays – cats over 40 times – none are written about favorably. So it is fair to say he never owned either. However, if he did ask the question, To spay or not to spay, I think the answer would be a resounding – Maybe yes, maybe no! 

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