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Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Why Should I Spay or Neuter my Pet?

                Besides the obvious attempt to reduce pet overpopulation, why do vets and shelters always advocate for spaying and neutering pets?  Intact pets can experience a number of health problems, so here is a rundown on the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet.

                Non-neutered male dogs can experience enlargement of the prostate gland which may cause difficulty urinating.  Intact males are also at an increased risk of developing a prostate infection.  Testicular tumors can also be an issue for non- neutered dogs.  Males also have some risk of developing perianal hernias (a serious condition in which an opening of the muscle layers next to the anus can cause the bladder or other organs to become trapped) and tumors around the anus if not neutered.

Male cats do not have many health issues if left intact, but, their urine has an extremely strong, unpleasant odor and they are more likely to mark territory with urine.  Neutering cuts down on these undesirable behaviors.  Intact male cats also have a higher risk of bite wounds from fighting and of being hit by a car.

                Unspayed female dogs and cats can develop some serious health concerns.  One life threatening problem is a condition called pyometra.  Pyometra literally means pus-filled uterus.  The dog or cat’s uterus becomes infected and, if the uterus is not removed, the pet can go into shock and die or pus can fill the abdomen if the uterus ruptures causing severe peritonitis.  Females are also at risk of developing breast tumors as they get older if they are not spayed when young.  About 50% of breast tumors found in mature female dogs are cancerous and 85% of those found in cats are cancerous.  To a lesser degree, females may also develop ovarian or uterine tumors. 

                Other than minor anesthesia risks and occasional post-operative infections or incision failures, the risks of spay/neuter are few.  The issue has become a bit more complicated as new studies show that spaying and neutering pets very early in life could potentially cause other health risks like skeletal problems, especially in large and giant breed dogs.  So, your best bet is to discuss with your vet the pros and cons of spaying or neutering your pet and the best age at which to do so.  Find out what works best for your pet and his or her lifestyle and for your family.  Patton Veterinary Hospital has currently adopted the recommendation of waiting until the age of twelve months to spay or neuter pets who will be over 50lbs as adults.  Smaller dogs and cats can be altered at four to six months of age.  Shelter medicine guidelines may differ. 

                This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.


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