Just the Facts: Busting Some Common Spay/Neuter Myths

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YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Spaying/neutering my pet will cause significant weight gain.

THE FACTS: There is no correlation between spaying and neutering, and weight gain. The most likely contributors to weight gain in a pet are overfeeding and lack of exercise

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Animals become less active once they are spayed/neutered. 

THE FACTS: Spaying and neutering does not impact an animal’s energy levels. Your male pet may not be running off to chase down a female in heat, but that doesn’t mean their overall activity level has changed. 

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Neutering will cause negative behavior changes.

THE FACTS: The inverse is actually true! When neutered at appropriate age, negative behaviors like roaming, marking territory, and aggression will actually decrease. 

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: My cat must be six months old before she/he is spayed/neutered.

THE FACTS: Kittens can become pregnant at the age of four months. That’s why the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and other leaders have endorsed the consensus of the Veterinary Task Force on Feline Sterilization for the Age of Spay and Neuter Surgery, and support efforts to spay and neuter cats by five months of age. Visit FelineFixByFive.org to learn more.

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Female pets should have at least one litter. 

THE FACTS: There is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, female pets will be more healthy once they are spayed. Spaying before first heat decreases their risk of getting cancerous uterine, ovarian, and mammary tumors. 

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Sex drive isn’t really an issue for an indoor-only pet. 

THE FACTS: There is always a chance of a pet escaping or getting lost. Plus, unneutered males can detect a female in heat from over two miles away, and they’ll do almost anything to get her! They will dart out of doors, escape under fences, and may even run into traffic to cross a road. Female pets who have not been spayed may be more prone to urine marking and crawling around the house while they are in heat. Spaying and neutering will help keep your indoor-only pets from exhibiting unwanted behaviors inside, and keep them from causing trouble if they ever get outside. 

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Spaying/neutering is expensive. 

THE FACTS: While surgeries can be costly through a private veterinarian, there are many low-cost clinics ready to perform high-quality surgery for an extremely reasonable fee. To see what resources are in your area, start with the United Spay Alliance Spay/Neuter Referral Map with information on affordable spay/neuter services around the country.  

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Spay/neuter surgery is painful. 

THE FACTS: Surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so your pet won’t feel a thing! During recovery, your pet may experience some mild discomfort which can be addressed using a pain medication prescribed by a veterinarian. Most pets bounce back very quickly, and are back to normal activity within 24-72 hours. Younger pets bounce back quicker than older ones

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Children should be allowed to witness the miracle of birth. 

THE FACTS: Most dogs and cats have their litters at night in quiet, dark places, well out of sight. Meanwhile, there are so many kittens and puppies already waiting for rescue in shelters. 

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Spaying/neutering is unhealthy. 

THE FACTS: Spaying and neutering pets prevents disease. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems, while spaying females helps prevent uterine infections, mammary tumors (which are cancerous in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats). 

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Neutering will make a pet feel less like a male.

THE FACTS: Pets have no concept of ego or sexual identity. His personality will remain safely intact. However, he will be less likely to roam or run away from home!

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD: Neutering will deter my dog’s protective instincts

THE FACTS: A dog’s personality is formed by genetics and environment, for more than sex hormones. While neutering will throw a wrench in your dog’s instinct toward sexual reproduction, it will not affect a dog’s natural instinct to protect home and family.