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Spay and neuter

Every year thousands of pets find their way to Canadian shelters because at this time there are more pets than available homes. Many of these pets are bred by pet-owners who are not responsible enough to spay/neuter their pets. Some of them believe they can find good homes for the young animals and intend to spay/neuter their pet after the first litter, but the vast majority of these pets end up in a shelter. And for every animal that does find a home, the pet that could have been adopted to that home from a shelter is euthanized because no home could be found for him.

Dogs and cats are able to reproduce by the time they are six months old, sometimes even earlier. CFHS encourages cat owners to spay or neuter their pet sooner rather than later. Pediatric spay or neuter has been routinely and safely performed for many years now on animals from 6-12 weeks so many shelters use this procedure. Either way, it should be done before the animal is six months old.

vet surgery Spaying refers to the surgical removal of the ovaries of a female so she cannot reproduce. Neutering refers either to the surgical removal of the ovaries of a female or the testicles of a male so they cannot reproduce. The process is also called “fixing” or “sterilizing” and is a safe and common practice performed with an anesthetic.

The surgery should be done by your own veterinarian or you may want to check with your local SPCA, humane society or municipality to see if they have a spay/neuter clinic that provides low-cost neutering. Do not let financial reasons prevent you from having your dog neutered. The cost of responsibly caring for a litter is far greater.

Several myths about the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats have circulated among pet-owners. Do not be deceived!

Myth #1 Only females need to be spayed.
This is not true! The reproduction process takes two and if your male is not neutered, he can easily find a female mate – either a stray or a pet whose owners have not yet taken the responsibility of neutering her. You may not be directly affected but your actions – or lack thereof – will contribute to the problem of pet overpopulation.

Myth #2 Neutering will affect a pet’s personality.
The only hormone affected by the surgery is testosterone, which causes male animals to roam and protect or mark their territory. Males will be less aggressive and both males and females will be easier to manage when they are neutered; they will be more sociable, more likely to get along well with other animals and more likely to stay close to home.

Myth #3 Animals become fat, lazy and unhealthy when neutered.
Animals become fat and lazy from overheating and lack of exercise; this has nothing to do with neutering. In fact, neutering allows for better health and a longer life for your pet and reduces the risk of infection and cancer in the reproductive system.

Myth #4. A female will benefit from having one litter.
Females do not actually benefit from having a litter before they are spayed. Having a litter can put a female’s life at risk from complications that may arise from whelping and looking after a litter is very time-consuming and expensive. Females go into heat twice a year for about 21 days and attract unwanted male attention when they do.

Myth #5. Children should be given the opportunity to learn about the birthing process and to take care of young animals.
You do not need to have your pet give birth in order to teach your children about the miracle of creating life. The lesson will backfire when you realize you cannot find homes for the young animals, and must give them to a shelter. It is a better life lesson to teach your kids to be responsible pet owners and spay or neuter their pets.

Myth #6. There is money to be made in breeding purebreds.
Responsible breeders rarely make any money: the cost of properly caring for a pregnant female, and the ensuing litter of puppies or kittens can quickly become higher than the sale price. In addition, the average pet owner often does not possess the necessary knowledge to breed responsibly, which includes testing the dam and sire to rule out potential genetic diseases and to provide the necessary care and socialization for the puppies.

Roughly one quarter of pets in shelters are purebred, indicating that even purebreds are not guaranteed a home. Breeding two purebreds will not guarantee that the young will be like their parents and without sufficient breeding knowledge you could produce less-than-healthy animals.

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