Trainer Tips — Why Spay/ Neuter Your Pet?

16August 2013


I often have clients ask about spaying & neutering their pets.  I also have some clients who want to have “just one litter” with their pet before spaying or neutering.  This blog is to tell you all about why you SHOULD spay and neuter your pets.

Currently, an estimated 3-4 million pets are euthanized in the United States each year.  Now really take a moment to think about that number.  Four million animals killed each year.  This is a number that we can dramatically decrease by helping spread knowledge and information about the importance of spaying and neutering your pets.


Why Spay or Neuter your pet?
*Improve your pet’s health
*Reduce unwanted behaviors
*Save money on pet health costs
*Reduce the number of unwanted/ homeless pets killed
Improve your pet’s health:
According to a USA Today article (May 7, 2013), “Neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs.”
A large portion of the reason unaltered dogs have shorter life expectancies is due to the increased urge to roam.  This exposes them to fights, diseases, getting hit by cars, and other possible dangers.  Neutering males prevents enlargement of the prostate gland, testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of perianal tumors.  Spaying a female before her first heat cycle greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer and prevents uterine cancer and infections.
On the negative side, some sources state that spaying or neutering an animal before one year of age contributes to an increased likelihood of developing osteosarcoma (bone cancer).
Your veterinarian can also explain many of the benefits and possible risks.  A veterinarian is the ideal person to talk to if you have reservations about altering your pet.  Based on your animal’s breed, age, and individual health, your vet will recommend the best time to spay or neuter your pet.
Spaying and neutering helps prevent passing on any genetic defects, diseases, or undesired traits to future generations.  Remember, lets leave the breeding to the professionals.  Good professional breeders breed for health and temperament.  Most of the time when people want to have “just one litter” it is because of a personal reason.  This could be just because you think your dog is the cutest dog in the world (not actually a good reason to breed).  Maybe your vet told you your dog has excellent hips…that doesn’t mean he/she is a perfect candidate for breeding.
In the end, the best health benefit to your dog is living a happy, stress-free life.
Mating and having the urge to mate is stressful.
Carrying, giving birth to a litter, and raising puppies is stressful.
Also consider your own health and the health of the human population.  Pet over-population contributes to the spread of germs and diseases.  Pet feces already litter many public areas and parks, contaminating the soil and surrounding areas, and spreading diseases.
Maui has a huge problem with Parvo (Canine Parvovirus).  This is a disease that is especially fatal to puppies and young dogs.  Many young dogs on Maui must be “quarantined” to protect them from this disease.  This means that dogs receive less socialization and outings at a young age, the time when these things are most crucial.  The Parvovirus is spread through feces, and can live in the ground for 6 months to a year.

The most concerning disease spread by animals is Rabies.  This disease can spread across species, and therefore may be easily spread to humans.  An estimated 55,000 human deaths occur each year due to Rabies.  Dog bites are responsible for 97% of human Rabies infections.


Reduces pet’s unwanted behaviors:
Neutering your male dog can help prevent several unwanted behaviors including:  marking, aggression,  mounting, humping, barking and the urge to roam.  (Many of these behaviors will also occur in un-altered females).  The overwhelming urge to mate can even contribute to the dog’s overall behavior.  The urge to mate contributes to increased anxiety, stress, and aggression.
I like to tell my clients to think of it this way…we as humans also have certain urges.  Imagine having these urges your entire life and NEVER being able to do anything about it (or only having that one time out of several years).  It would most certainly be very frustrating and would stress out anyone!  Stress causes us to do things we wouldn’t normally do.  The same is true for your dog.  Stress and anxiety highly increases the likelihood that your dog will develop unwanted behaviors (or worsen the ones that already exist).
Dogs who are spayed and neutered are more likely to be more social with other dogs and exhibit less aggressive tendencies, because there is no need for sexual competition.  Altering your pet will NOT change his/her natural instincts or personality.
Save Money on pet Health Costs:
I often hear the argument that having a pet spayed or neutered just costs too much money.  To this argument I say, “If you cannot afford to pay for your pet to be spayed or neutered, you cannot afford a pet.”
We love animals.  I get it.  If I could afford it, I would have at least 5 dogs by now, but I can’t afford the expense at this time, so I don’t.  Part of being a good pet owner is being responsible.  Having a pet can be very costly, especially in the first 1-2 years of the animal’s life.  Before considering adopting a new member into your family, you must really consider the cost involved.  It’s not just about food and toys.  Pets require regular vaccinations and monthly preventative medicines such as Frontline and Heart worm pills.  You must also consider what might happen if your pet gets sick.  An extra, unexpected trip to the vet for a simple illness may end up costing hundreds of dollars.  You just never know.  I had my own personal experience of a severely large unexpected vet bill.  A few years ago, Nekita was found to have a lump when we were at our yearly vet exam.  She had to have surgery to have it removed.  Luckily for us, the surgery was the solution to her problem.  But the event still ended up costing us over $1000.
If not being able to afford the procedure to spay or neuter your pet is still your argument, consider the costs of having a litter of puppies.  Feeding, de-worming and giving first shots to an entire litter far outweighs the cost of spay or neuter.  Plus consider if your female dog has complications during her pregnancy or birthing.  Complications like these could end up costing thousands!
Renewing your pet’s license may also cost you more if your pet is un-altered.  Many local governments have higher fees to license a pet that has not been spayed or neutered.
Having an un-altered female also costs more in clean-up.  Adult females usually come into heat 2-3 times each year.  Each time this happens, they have a sort of dog period (bleeding).  It is therefore necessary to have a doggie undergarment and change doggie pads during this period (1-3 weeks).  This is an added expense.  Along with the unpleasant task of changing pads on your dog’s diaper, what if she has an accident?  Dog accidents (urine, feces, or other bodily fluids) must be cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner.  This is the only way to actually get the smell out.  Cleaning with regular household cleaners may mask the smell to us, but the dogs know it’s still there and the scent can encourage further accidents or marking.
If you are still concerned about cost of spay and neuter, most local organizations offer Spay & Neuter Clinics where you can get your pet altered at a drastically reduced price.
Please check out these places:
Reducing the Numbers of Unwanted Pets:
As stated above, an estimated 3-4 millions pets are euthanized in shelters across the United States each year, and the number is still growing.  If nothing else in this article convinces you to spay or neuter your pet, let it be this:  save the life of a pet that is already in need.
Again I will remind you, proper pet ownership means being responsible.  That means if you breed your animal, YOU are responsible for all the resulting offspring, and any possible further offspring in the future.  Say you breed your dog and you have 5 puppies.  By some miracle, you find them all homes.  Then 1 of the 5 gets taken to the shelter because of a move.  The other 4 puppies have fabulous homes but one of those owners decides to breed their puppy and produces a litter of 8 more puppies.  Say they can only find homes for 5 of the 8 puppies.  Three of those puppies end up in the shelter.  That’s now 4 dogs that have no home and will potentially be euthanized because you wanted that one litter.  I could go on, but I’m hoping you get the point.
Please leave breeding to the professional, responsible breeders who breed specifically for health and temperament.  Breeding your cute dog, purebred or not, because you want to is extremely selfish and is only adding to the ever-growing problem of animal over-population.
*Special Note*
Here’s a good example of how out of control the animal population can get.  The Maui Humane Society estimates that there are over 200 thousand ferrel cats on the island of Maui.
This does NOT include cats with loving homes that are being cared for.
There are 200 thousand ferrel cats roaming around, getting in fights, begging for food from tourists and passers by, and creating more cats.  This is a problem.  If we don’t share our knowledge and educate others on the reasons to spay and neuter their pets, our dog population might not be far behind.
I already see cats hit by cars on the highway regularly…I really don’t want to start adding dogs to that occurrence!
Please spay and neuter your pets!