Spaying your female pet or neutering your male pet can be a very beneficial procedure. Sterilization is primarily used for population control, of course, but it can also reduce or eliminate certain behavioral problems and tumors/cancers.
In female dogs, spaying stops cycling or “coming into heat”, and all the associated issues, such as bloody vaginal discharge (can last 2-3 weeks!) and pregnancy risk. Dogs spayed before their first heat cycle have the greatest reduction in mammary cancer risk. Spaying also removes the risk of tumors and infection affecting the ovaries and uterus, since these structures are removed.
In male dogs, neutering early can reduce aggressive behavior and urine marking associated with testosterone. Neutered dogs cannot get testicular cancer, and they are also less likely to develop prostate infections and perianal tumors. In larger breed dogs, we recommend neutering after dogs are fully grown to reduce the risk of joint disease and arthritis.
In cats, spaying and neutering improves health and quality of life. Female cats in heat often howl and act moody, and they can cycle every couple weeks until they are bred. Just like dogs, unspayed cats can develop pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus that must be treated with emergency surgery. Male cats have a greater tendency to get into fights (which can lead to infections) and urinate inappropriately. Sterilization will reduce these unwanted behaviors. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends spaying and neutering cats by 5 months of age.
Spaying and neutering, while considered major surgeries, are also routine and extremely well tolerated. Recovery is quick, and complications are rare. If you have questions or concerns about surgery, the veterinarians at Lincoln Avenue Veterinary Clinic can discuss current research findings and develop a plan for your individual pet.