Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Dog
People like us, who spend most of our “free” time rescuing homeless
dogs, always offer one big reason for spaying or neutering your dog:
the appalling pet overpopulation problem that results in thousands
of pets being euthanized (killed) every day.
Some 70,000 puppies and kittens are born
every day in the U.S.
Only 10% of
animals admitted to shelters have been spayed or neutered
prior to arrival.
That means between 8,000 and 11,000
pets are euthanized every day simply because they are homeless.
An animal in a shelter is killed every
Only one animal in 10 born in the U.S.
gets a good home that lasts a lifetime.
less to spay or neuter your pet than it does to raise a
litter of puppies or kittens.
Between three and four million
pets are euthanized every year because they are homeless - that's
60% of dogs and 70% of cats. As upsetting as these numbers
are, they represent a 75% reduction in euthanasia since the
1970s. Why? Because more and more people are getting their
pets spayed and neutered!
These alarming statistics present a good
enough reason, all by themselves, for preventing more pet animal
births. Simply put, the widespread failure to spay or neuter dogs
results in homelessness, misery, cruelty, and death. (source
Grace was dumped
in the desert, then taken in by a family who dumped her at a kill shelter
when they realized she was pregnant.
She was rescued, and delivered 3 days later.
Please spay or neuter your dog!
What’s In It for You?
Even though an action may be good for the community, people have a
natural tendency to ask what benefits they will receive. Here are
some benefits you and your dog can expect when you have your dog
spayed or neutered.
A dog that is spayed or neutered has no chance of developing
uterine or testicular cancer; in females, the risk of breast cancer
and urinary infections is drastically reduced. Reproductive cancers
are common among older dogs that have been bred.
Male dogs that are neutered when young are much less likely to roam,
mark their territory (and your belongings) with urine, and show
aggression toward other male dogs. Intact (unneutered) male dogs
will go to great lengths to get to a female dog in heat—they will
dig their way out of yards, break fences and leashes, and cross
streets in heavy traffic if a female in heat is in the area.
Easier care. An unspayed female bleeds for
about 10 straight days twice a year. She bleeds on your carpet, your
furniture, the interior of your car, and on the ground outside. As
soon as she has marked your yard, you can anticipate a constant
parade of male dogs who will pace your lawn, howl, and bark. You
have a fenced yard? They will dig their way in.
No accidental pregnancies. If your dog
accidentally becomes pregnant, you will have to provide additional
medical care—for her and the puppies—and be responsible for finding
good homes for half a dozen or more offspring.
Myths About Spaying/Neutering
Some people don’t want to spay or neuter their dog because they have
heard about some bad “side effects” of the surgery, or because they
have picked up some mistaken ideas along the way. There are a number
of myths about spaying and neutering. Here are a few of the most
common, and the truth about each.
Altering makes a dog fat. Spaying or neutering
at the youngest possible age—before the dog has reached sexual
maturity—generally has no effect whatsoever on weight. Dogs who
undergo the surgery after reaching sexual maturity may show an
increased appetite because altering affects hormone balance.
However, dogs who are fat are usually fat because they are fed too
much and/or do not get enough exercise.
Altering makes a dog lazy. Neutering reduces a
male dog’s desire to roam (often over long distances) to find female
dogs in heat, and altering can somewhat reduce a dog’s energy level.
Altering does not make dogs lazy. Altered dogs are as playful and
energetic as intact dogs.
Altering changes a dog’s personality. The only
personality changes that result from spaying or neutering are the
positive changes described above—no roaming, less tendency to mark
territory, and less aggression. Aside from these changes, your dog
will be no less like himself than humans are after undergoing
vasectomy or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).
My dog has a right to experience sex. Sex, for
a dog, is nothing more than the result of a powerful instinctive
drive to reproduce. People who worry about this issue are usually
over-identifying with their dog. This is an excuse often presented
by men, who cringe at the very idea of castration—even though it is
a painless surgical procedure being performed on their dog, not on
It’s a good thing for our children to see the miracle of
birth. Bringing more puppies into a world already
overburdened with thousands of homeless dogs is not the best way to
show your children the birth process. You can show them videos or
even let them witness live human births on the internet. You might
also want to consider that if you allow your dog to have puppies so
that your children can observe the miracle of birth, you should also
take your children to an animal shelter, so they can observe the sad
results—the thousands of dogs who are killed every day because no
one will give them a home.
What about the Expense?
While it is true that surgery for your dog costs money, you should
be aware that the cost of altering your dog will save you money in
medical care in the long run, because your dog is less likely to
develop common diseases that afflict unaltered animals as they age.
Also, providing basic veterinary care for the life of your
dog—annual exams, required vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and
so on—will cost a considerable amount of money, and altering is just
another of those expenses.
But because of the seriousness of the pet overpopulation problem,
there are countless programs that provide low-cost spaying and
neutering for pets. Animal shelters often provide this service, and
if your local shelter does not, they can probably tell you about a
shelter nearby that does.
Here are some websites that can help you find a low-cost spay/neuter
SpayUSA.org A national referral service that can direct you
to more than 900 clinics that offer spaying and neutering at reduced
ASPCA.org Shows low-cost spay/neuter clinics arcoss
North America on an interactive map.
Lists low-cost spay-neuter clinics in a number of states and
Use any search engine on the web (Yahoo,
Bing, Google, etc.) to find extensive lists of clinics by city and
state. Try “low-cost neuter” to start your search.
For much more information on spaying and
neutering, including a page about this issue written for children,