To Spay or Not to Spay: The Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Pet

What’s that saying? Something about how everyone has an opinion? Regardless of the exact wording, the underlying thought rings quite true, especially when it comes to spaying or neutering your pet.

Many believe spaying or neutering is a vital part of responsible pet ownership, while others question whether it’s truly the best option for our pets. At Mountainview Veterinary Hospital we believe the benefits of spaying and neutering far outweigh the risks for most of our pet patients. Let us share our reasoning with you.

Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

There are many documented benefits of spaying and neutering our family pets. While most of our clients choose this option, it’s important that we understand what benefits are gained from this procedure.

  • Pet overpopulation — If you take the time to visit one of our local shelters or rescues, you’ll find that they’re overflowing. There’s an estimated 6 million pets in the U.S. who don’t have homes, and every day, many animals are euthanized due to a lack of resources or chance at rehoming. Puppies and kittens often end up in these places after accidental or uneducated breeding efforts. Spaying or neutering your pet helps ensure that you’re doing your part to alleviate the perpetuation of unwanted animals.
  • Behavior benefits — Testicles and ovaries come with hormones and with hormones come some undesirable side effects. Pets who are in heat may be messy or extremely vocal and needy (as is the case with cats). Intact male pets may exhibit territorial marking, increased mounting behaviors, and may have a strong drive to get out of the house or yard, which increases the risk of injury. Fighting may also occur more often among intact housemates.
  • Health benefits — Female pets who are left intact are at increased risk for aggressive mammary cancers, as well as pyometra, a life-threatening uterus infection. Intact males are at increased risk for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), certain hernias, and testicular cancer.

For most of our pet patients, the benefits of spaying and neutering far outweigh the risks.

Weighing the Options

As with all things in life, there are other sides to the story. Particularly in recent years, spaying and neutering has been called into question as new studies emerge showing potential issues associated with these procedures. Studies suggest:

  • Increased risk of orthopedic disease, such as cruciate ligament rupture in dogs
  • Increased risk of certain types of systemic cancers, such as lymphoma in dogs
  • Increased risk of bone cancer in dogs

While these findings are certainly scary, we have to remember that we’re in the very early stages of exploring this data. These studies revolve around only a few purebred dogs. To date, cats haven’t been studied at all. This data is also retrospective, meaning there are still many other factors that haven’t been sorted out.

We certainly make spaying and neutering recommendations specific to each animal, but in general, we find these procedures are best for most pets. We have to weigh the risks and benefits in context. While we acknowledge there’s more research needed, we also recognize the compelling benefits of spaying and neutering our pets.

If you have additional questions, we’re always happy to speak with you. As with so many things in life, there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all answer, and spaying and neutering is no exception.