Spaying or neuteringSpaying or neutering pets provide many health benefits for your dogs and cats, We all know that a spayed or neutered cat or dog cannot reproduce and add unwanted, homeless animals to the animal population. The number of homeless animals euthanized each year is staggering. In most cases these numbers could easily be lowered if spaying and neutering was more widely practiced. February is National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month, an annual campaign of Humane Society International and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. This campaign shines a spotlight on spay/neuter as a way to save the lives of companion animals, community (feral and stray) cats, and street dogs who might otherwise be put down in shelters or killed on the street. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100 percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats. Dr. Whitworth at Whitworth Animal Clinic providing veterinary services to pets from Madison, Huntsville, and the surrounding Madison County areas, performs these procedures not only help to lower the number of strays, but to also help your pet live a longer happier life.

Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Pets

Studies have shown that if a cat or dog is spayed or neutered at an early age (beginning at eight weeks), they will live longer and be much healthier. The longer you wait, although the reproductive capacity is disabled, the greater the risk you run of the surgery not doing the behavior altering trick because the natural behaviors are so ingrained. There are many good reasons to spay and/or neuter, but keep in mind it will not change fundamental instinctive personalities like protectiveness of their young and owners, although it significantly reduces the more territorial and aggressive urges. In addition to the most important overall goal of reducing the number of homeless pets euthanized, the general benefits of spay and neutering include:

•  Subdue aggressive, reproductive urges and territorial behavior

•  Improve your pet’s health, increase longevity and lower the risk of reproductive organ cancers

•  Reduce roaming instincts – decreased potential for accidents, exposure to conflicts with other animals, becoming lost; contracting diseases, and lowers potential for female animals in heat to become pregnant

•  Save on the cost of pet care – reduced reproductive system problems and injury from fighting or roaming related auto accidents

•  Better response to training

One of the most positive benefits of spay/neuter for the pet owner is the impact on a pet’s innate behaviors. Unneutered dogs (both male and female) are much more territorial and prone to urine marking than neutered dogs. Spaying/neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.  Intact cats exhibit a very strong urge to spray which can be avoided by spay/neutering by the age of 4 months. Neutering a male cat can also minimize irritating howling, the urge to roam, and fighting with other males.  Altering a pet also diminishes not so lovely behaviors including excessive barking, mounting and “humping” legs, toys, pillows, etc., destructive activity, being high-strung and less tolerant of external stimuli, and fighting for dominance between animals of the same sex.

Perhaps one of the best benefits of spaying/neutering a pet is increased life span: it is estimated that a dog may gain between 1 to 3 additional years; and a cat up to 5 additional years as compared to the lifespans of intact dogs and cats. In addition, license renewal fees for owners of altered pets tend to be reduced.

Creating Awareness

There are several organizations that support spaying and neutering. Petco and the Petco Foundation funds thousands of spay/neuter surgeries during the Petco Foundation’s annual National Spay and Neuter Drive. World Spay Day is the last Thursday of February and is sponsored by the Humane Society International, (HSUS) and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association in conjunction with their adoption partners.

Whitworth Animal Clinic is a premier veterinary clinic that offers high quality care and personalized service. Dr. Whitworth services pets from Madison, Huntsville, and the surrounding Madison County Alabama areas. If your pet has not been altered, or you have recently added a pet to your family, schedule an appointment with Dr. Whitworth to take advantage of our spay and neutering services.

For more information on spaying or neutering your pets visit ASPCA.