The Importance of Spaying/Neutering your Pet

Today’s widespread animal overpopulation is a direct effect of the failure of many pet owners to spay or neuter their pets. With myths such as behavioral changes and health complications resulting from the procedure circulating, it can be difficult to tell if spaying/neutering is the right choice for Fido or Fluffy. In order to save millions of homeless animals’ lives, as well as keep your animal in the best health possible, these myths should be put to rest once and for all.

It is a popular misconception that spaying or neutering your pet can negatively affect their health or even alter their personality. “In addition to helping to reduce pet overpopulation, spaying or neutering your pet reduces and can even eliminate the risk of hormone-associated cancer and diseases,” said Dr. Bethany Schilling, clinical instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “It may also reduce or eliminate unwanted behavioral problems associated with sex hormones.”

If high costs are major a deterrent of spaying or neutering your pet, then you’re in luck. There are numerous low-cost spaying/neutering services found in various regions of the United States, and “some areas have spay/neuter assistance programs that help subsidize the cost of the procedure at local clinics,” said Schilling. It is important to remember that there is also cost associated with providing for a litter of puppies or kittens, and more often than not, they are turned over to an animal shelter when the owner realizes this.

Many loving pet owners are wary of spaying/neutering their pets as they do not want to cause them pain or harm. “Most of the risk in spaying or neutering your pet is associated with the anesthesia for the procedure,” said Schilling. “This is why a good physical exam and blood work are performed to help detect underlying issues prior to the procedure.”

You can have your pet safely spayed or neutered at as early as 4 to 6 months of age. “Prior to the onset of sexual maturity is most beneficial,” said Schilling. This is both healthy for your pet and effectively helps to reduce pet overpopulation. It also beneficial in that it can eliminate various uncomfortable behaviors for Fido or Fluffy, such as nervous pacing while in heat and even male aggression.

As adorable as a litter of puppies or kittens are, there are just as many wonderful pets at a nearby animal shelter that are in need of forever loving homes. Whether the previous owners lacked the time or the funds to care for them, most animals brought into shelters are loving and sweet, and no less deserving of a home than any other animal. If it is a purebred pet you desire, according to the American Humane Society one out of every four animals brought into an animal shelter are purebred. By adopting a loving dog or cat from an animal shelter, you can find the pet of your dreams as well as save a deserving animal’s life.

Spaying or neutering your pets will not only provide long-term benefits for their health and happiness, but will also help to save the lives of homeless animals and ultimately reduce the widespread epidemic of animal overpopulation in our world today.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

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