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By Dr. Gloria Dorsey, DVM and VP Medical Services at Atlanta Humane Society

When you adopt from the Atlanta Humane Society, your pet has already been spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters of puppies or kittens.  Spay and neuter surgeries are standard at the Atlanta Humane Society for a number of reasons.  For many pet parents the decision to alter a pet may not be an easy one because they believe it is unnatural for the pet.  However, after nearly 150 years of sheltering and adopting animals we understand that the benefits of spaying and neutering go far beyond preventing overpopulation.  Here are 10 reasons it is so important to spay and neuter our pets.

  1. Reduces the Risk of Mammary Tumors in Female Dogs and Cats

The risk of a mammary tumor is 26% for unspayed females and 45% of mammary gland tumors are cancerous.  Spaying a female before her first heat cycle reduces the risk of mammary cancer to less than 1%.

  1. Reduces the Risk of Testicular Cancer and Prostate Disease in Male Dogs

7% of unaltered male dogs will develop testicular cancer and 66% will develop prostate disease.  While testicular cancer has a 90% cure rate, the odds of surviving prostate disease are not as good.

  1. Curbs Dominant Behavior in Males

Unneutered males often feel the need to “mark” their territory. Male cats tend to spray urine on the wall and other surfaces.  Neutering males will reduce aggressive tendencies as well.  Studies have shown that the majority of dog bites involve unneutered animals.

  1. Curbs Roaming

A female in heat will roam away from the home environment.  This attracts male dogs who will sometimes fight for the chance to mate with her.  A roaming animal could be lost, stolen, injured or killed.  Never assume your animal will (safely) find their way back home.

  1. Eliminates the Risk of Pregnancy and Delivery Related Problems

Just like in humans, dogs and cats can experience problems with pregnancy and delivery.  Dogs and cats of any breed may require a caesarian section to assist with a difficult delivery.   Emergency or unplanned C-sections can be expensive and life threatening.

Since dogs and cats do not experience menopause, unaltered senior animals can become pregnant and experience life threatening complications as well.

  1. Eliminates  Problematic Heat Cycles

A heat cycle can do more than cause mood swings.  Female dogs and cats can experience swollen nipples or vulva that is painful.   If your pet’s genitals aren’t kept clean, infections can develop.  Dogs and cats can also experience false pregnancy which mimics true pregnancy in the form of an enlarged abdomen, attempts to create a nest and attempts to mother stuffed toys or other objects.

  1. Eliminates Irresponsible Breeding

When it comes to breeding, there are a host of best practices that responsible breeders follow.  When a pregnancy is unplanned, those guidelines are likely not being followed.  This brings with it the risk of inbreeding which makes the offspring of inbred animals prone to genetic defects and diseases.

These animals are at risk for genetic issues like demodex mange, hip dysplasia, heart disease and various other conditions.

  1. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections

Spaying a female animal significantly reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.

  1. Will Not Cause Weight Gain

The concern about weight gain is one of the most common reasons pet parents decide not to spay or neuter.  Weight gain that occurs following spay or neuter surgery is generally the result of decreased exercise and/or poor or inappropriate eating habits.

  1. It is Cost-Effective

Cost is another reason pet parents chose not to alter their pet.  In addition to the spay and neuter services in our Wellness Clinic which is open to the public, the Atlanta Humane Society offers a low-cost spay/neuter option for just $35 that includes a micro-chip and a rabies shot if it is needed.

Compared to the cost of emergency care for a complicated pregnancy or delivery, the cost of caring for a litter of puppies or kittens, or the anguish of a beloved pet not surviving such a complicated event, the cost of a spay or neuter surgery is a safer more affordable option.

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