When a male dog or cat has his reproductive abilities physical disabled, the term used to describe the procedure is ‘neutering.’ This is altogether different from castration, which is more common in the agricultural industry. Alternatively, when a female dog or cat has an equivalent operation performed, the term used is ‘spaying.’
Spaying and neutering are as commonplace as customized dog tags and monogrammed food bowls. It’s almost an assumed part of being a cat or dog owner: after you’ve gotten your new pet, you have it spayed or neutered if it isn’t already.
But, why do this at all? Why spay or neuter cats or dogs?
More than Just Population Control
The most common belief about spaying and neutering is that it’s done to control overbreeding. While this is technically true, it’s not the only reason why spaying or neutering is performed. For female cats, as an example, not being spayed results in an ongoing heat cycle. Cats that have been ‘fixed’ do not go into heat, and the associated behavioral changes are nonexistent.
For dogs, male neutering is also performed as a means of stabilizing mood and behavior. Generally speaking, dogs that are not neutered exhibit more aggressive and territorial behavior, and they can become quite possessive of other females in their vicinity. Neutering a male dog solves this problem almost outright, as the changes in hormone production often dictate a softer, more approachable mood more often.
This isn’t always the case, though. For many pet owners, the change in behavior pre- and post-fixing isn’t night-and-day. However, over time, fixed dogs and cats are easier to manage. A spayed female dog will not ovulate and therefore will not experience a ‘doggie period.’ This reduces the ownership burden on the pet owner, and it’s a permanent fix.
Spaying/Neutering Safety Concerns
Many pet owners are rightfully concerned about the safety of spaying and neutering. So many hundreds of thousands of these types of operations have been performed that it has become a routine, short surgical procedure. Most spaying or neutering procedures can be completed within just an hour, and recovery times are in weeks, not months.
The biggest concern for dogs and cats healing from a fix is the risk of infection. This is fairly easily addressed with the use of antibiotic drugs and topical dressings of the surgical site. Spaying and neutering is generally considered very safe, so be sure to have your pet spayed or neutered if they haven’t been already.