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Why it is Important to Spay Your Pet
Before stating the many reasons spaying and neutering your pet is an overall good reason, lets first go over what spaying and neutering is. Ovariohysterectomy is the medical term for surgical removal of both the ovaries and uterus. Over the years the term was shorten to the abbreviation OHE or just the nickname "spaying." The overall purpose of spaying is to completely stop the capability of reproducing and of course, to improve their health (both sort term and long term).
Before stating the many reasons spaying your pet is an overall good reason, lets first go over what spaying is. Ovariohysterectomy is the medical term for surgical removal of both the ovaries and uterus. Over the years the term was shorten to the abbreviation OHE or just the nickname "spaying." The overall purpose of spaying is to completely stop the capability of reproducing and of course, to improve their health (both sort term and long term).
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In small animal veterinary medicine, both dogs and cats can be spayed or neutered at the age of 6 months. As you may have notice, some shelters do spay and neuter at younger ages because their policies require all animals to be spayed or neutered prior to leaving the shelter. However some studies have shown that waiting to 8 or 9 months of age for larger breeds of dogs can help with bone development. Overall, Dr. Sue Fluhr recommends pet owner to spay or neuter their animals anywhere between 6 to 9 months of age.
As many have probably heard, allowing your pet to go through one heat cycle or even having one litter before they are spayed, is better for them. However, those are both myths. It is actually healthier for your pet to be spayed before their first heat cycle. With each heat cycle your female animal goes through, it increases the risk of breast cancer and uterine infections. Some studies state that you can reduce the chance of breast cancer as much as 97% by spaying your pet prior to their first heat cycle. In addition, since spaying is the removal of both ovaries and uterus, it completely eliminates both uterine and ovarian cancers.
The other major health concern with intact females is pyometra. Pyometra is the technical term for pus in the uterus. This uterine infection is very serious and life threatening. Just like mammary cancer, the risk of your pet getting a pyometra increases with each heat cycle they go through. Most of the time, the condition isn't caught until the pet is very ill. By that time, the only treatment is to perform an ovariohysterectomy and the surgery can be dangerous because the uterus can rupture, spreading the pus and infection into the abdomen.
Another pro to spaying your pet prior to disease formation, is that it will save you money. Treatments for both cancer and pyometra can be extremely expensive. It can be double, triple, or even quadruple the amount of money that would be needed to just spay your pet.
The last concern with breeding is pregnancy complications. Giving birth can be stressful to your pet and if they are not 100%, it can cause major harm to them. Other concerns are: difficulties in labor, bleeding, retaining one or more placentas, over exhaustion, decrease calcium levels (hypocalcemia), inflammation of uterus (metritis), a breach, and inflammation of the mammary glands (mastitis). Then there are issues that can occur with the puppies: not breathing, not suckling, mother not accepting puppies, or keeping them warm. Plus the whole experience can be stressful on the owner due to the amount of work it takes and lack of sleep.
By spaying, it also allows owners to avoid the very messy bleeding that comes with each heat cycle. Canines can go into estrus (heat) twice a year. The duration of each estrus various according to the individual dog and the breed. On average, the estrus cycle can last for 12 to 21 days but as said before-- it can widely vary. The actual bleeding can occur prior to the female being receptive to the male (mounting). Signs of female dog going into heat are: vaginal dischare, swollen vulve, bleeding, attracting males, and other animal (both male and female) trying to mount. With felines, intact females go into a seasonal estrus which occurs during the spring and fall. They can actually go into multiple estrus cycle during one season. Signs for female cat going into heat are: attracting intact male cats, swollen vulva, bloody discharge, loud vocalizing, attention seeking, rolling on floor, elevate hindquarters, allowing to be mounted, and possible decrease appetite. Cats are also induced ovulates which means that they will release an egg from the ovary if they are mated. If the female is kept isolated, their estrus phase will re-cycle (return) in 1 to 3 weeks. Another interesting fact, is that female cats can have more than 1 litter within her (even from 2 different fathers). Which can lead to many unwanted litters in the world.
Finally going back to the main reason, we want to avoid any unwanted pregnancies. There are way too many unwanted pets in the world and we have a huge pet overpopulation issue. We suggest that if you want another pet, adopt one from a shelter or rescue organization. Wisconsin has various breed specific rescue groups, many humane societies, and now with the internet-- you can search Pet Finder for possible new family members from all over the United States. There are many puppies, kittens, adult dogs, and adult cats that are looking for homes. Use the following link-- Local Humane Societies and Rescue Organization for more options to adopt a new pet.