The pet homelessness crisis is real in Los Angeles, the United States, and across the globe.
In 2021 from January to July, LA Animal Services had an intake of 6,911 dogs, 334 of which were euthanized. One female dog can give birth to 12–18 puppies a year, and around 67,000 puppies can be born from a single female dog and her offspring in six years. Annually, 6.5 million animals enter U.S. shelters, and the U.S. boasts a total of 70 million strays. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide. There are so many animals in need of loving homes and not enough loving homes to keep up.
By spaying and neutering, you're not only benefitting your pet's overall health and wellbeing, but your entire animal community, by helping to reduce companion animal overpopulation.
What is Spay and Neuter?
The difference between spay and neuter comes down to the gender of the animal. Both terms refer to the surgical sterilization of an animal, but sometimes neuter is used for both genders. Spaying involves removing the uterus and ovaries of a female animal, and neutering removes the testicles of a male animal. This procedure ensures your animal won’t reproduce and helps to combat the evident pet homelessness crisis.
It increases your pet's life expectancy.
A University of Georgia study, based on the medical records of more than 70,000 animal patients, found that the life expectancy of neutered male dogs was 13.8% longer and that of spayed female dogs was 26.3% longer. The average age of death of intact dogs was 7.9 years versus a significantly older 9.4 years for altered dogs.
Another study, conducted by Banfield Pet Hospitals on a database of 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats reflected similar findings, concluding that neutered male dogs lived 18% longer and spayed female dogs lived 23% longer. Spayed female cats in the study lived 39% longer and neutered male cats lived 62% longer.
Protect your dog from diseases.
Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
Dogs can get, carry, and pass on canine venereal diseases. The important word in that sentence is “canine.” Canine STDs can be spread between dogs when they have sexual intercourse with each other, but their most devastating impact is overwhelmingly on puppies born to infected mothers.
Curb unwanted behaviors.
Intact dogs are more prone to urine-marking than neutered dogs. Although urine-marking is usually associated with male dogs, females may do it too. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may even stop it altogether.
Other behavioral problems that can be alleviated by spay/neuter include:
- Roaming, especially when females are in heat
- Excessive barking and mounting activity
While having your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personalities.
When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet (Source: ASPCA)
For dogs: While the traditional age for neutering is six to nine months, puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they’re healthy. Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of post-operative complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight or dogs that have health problems. Consult with your vet on the right time to spay/neuter your pet.
For cats: It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered. In animal shelters, surgery is often performed at this time so that kittens can be sterilized prior to adoption. In an effort to avoid the start of urine spraying and eliminate the chance for pregnancy, it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your own cat reaches five months of age. It’s possible to spay a female cat while she’s in heat.