Myths About Spaying and Neutering Pets Debunked

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This February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, an important campaign supported by the Humane Society that encourages education and action around the practices of spaying and neutering pets.

Why is it so important? The truth is that it saves lives.

While it may seem unpleasant at first thought, spaying or neutering your pet is a proven method that will save the lives of millions of pets who would otherwise have to be euthanized at a shelter.

There are some commonly spread myths about spaying and neutering that may have you holding off or deciding it’s not necessary for your pet. Here are the facts behind those myths.

Myth #1: It makes pets gain extra weight.

Pets use lots of energy in trying to acquire a mate and have a litter, which is the main argument behind this myth. Take away those drives, and your pet will expend less energy, meaning they’ll put on weight.

The truth is that a reasonable diet and healthy lifestyle will completely negate any potential weight gain. What’s more, spaying and neutering pets can prevent much riskier illnesses, like certain types of cancer. Commit to giving your pet a healthy diet, and you won’t see weight gain as a result of spaying or neutering.

Myth #2: Your dog will lose their protective instinct and won’t be as good of a watchdog.

The truth is that dogs keep their protective instincts after being spayed or neutered. Your dog will still learn to love and protect your family from strangers, and will still consider your home theirs to protect.

Myth #3: Female pets should have at least one litter before being spayed.

The simple truth is that females don’t gain any health benefits from having a litter before being spayed. In fact, most veterinarians recommend that female pets get spayed before they first go into heat, usually around seven to eight months of age. Having the procedure before her first heat cycle will even reduce her risk for mammary gland tumors.

Myth #4: All my pet’s puppies or kittens will be cared for in homes I find for them.

It’s great that you’ve considered where these litters of pets will go once they’re born. Yet there’s more to the picture than your pet’s litter. By finding homes for the puppies and kittens of your pet, you’re potentially taking away that very same home from a pet in a shelter right now.

Finally, it’s unfortunate but true: you can’t assume everyone you sell or give the litter to to be responsible with the next batch of kittens or puppies, or the next.

Take a look at this eye-opening data: Pet Project Inc., a humane society in North Dakota, has done the math and found that “an unspayed female dog, her mate and all their puppies’ puppies, if none are neutered or spayed add up to 67,000 dogs in 6 years. One cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in 7 years.”

What You Can Do

Help spread the word! And of course, be sure to take your own pet to get spayed or neutered.

If you’re not sure what to expect when you take your dog or cat to the vet, find out about the procedures of spaying or neutering and their benefits and how to care for your pet after a procedure.

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