Ireland has five times more stray dogs than the UK. The chances of a dog becoming a stray and ending up destroyed is 20 times greater for a dog in Ireland than it is for a dog in the UK. There is an overpopulation crises and the ongoing annual destruction of 25,000 – 30,000 dogs in Irish pounds is a result of this crisis.
Female dogs will come into heat for 3 weeks every 6 months. During this period they will have “spotting” bleeding from their vulva and if mated may become pregnant. Female cats will come into heat every 3 weeks for a few days during the breeding season which is February to October and if mated during this time may become pregnant.
What Do the Terms “Spaying” and “Neutering” Mean?
“Spaying” and “neutering” are surgical procedures used to prevent pets from reproducing. In a female animal, “spaying” consists of removing the uterus and ovaries. The technical term is ovario-hysterectomy. For a male animal, “neutering” involves the removal of the testicles, and this is known as castration.
Reasons for Neutering
- Neutering increases your pet’s chances for a longer and healthier life. Spaying your female pet reduces her chances of developing mammary cancer and eliminates the threat of uterine and ovarian cancer. It also eliminates the risk of a life threatening uterine infection (pyometra). Neutering your male dog or cat prevents testicular cancer and may prevent prostate problems. Neutered cats are less likely to roam and fight or get killed on the roads.
- A neutered dog or cat is a better pet – Males neutered early in life are less aggressive towards other dogs and are not distracted by females in heat.
- Spaying your female pet eliminates the problem of stray males camping in your garden and decreases her desire to roam and breed.
- Spaying prevents your pet from giving birth to unwanted puppies and kittens. It also stops the messy and difficult twice-annual heat period. You are helping to alleviate the dog and cat overpopulation problems we have in Ireland.
Does It Hurt?
As the surgery is done under a general anaesthetic it is painless, the operation for both males and for females is straightforward and low risk. Recovery is usually uneventful. The worst your pet might experience is some discomfort for a short time after the operation.
When Should It Be Done?
The usual recommendation is at 6 to 7 months for both cats and dogs. Your veterinarian should be consulted to determine the best time for your pet.
Excuses for Not Neutering
- My pet will get fat and lazy. Pets that become fat and lazy after being neutered are usually overfed and under exercised.
- Shouldn’t a female pet have one litter first? Allowing a female dog/cat to produce a litter does not have any benefits. There are health risks to the mother during the pregnancy and when giving birth. Finding good homes for puppies and kittens is not easy. Even if you manage to place your pet’s offspring, you are condemning to death the numbers of unwanted animals in shelters and pounds who are in desperate need of good homes.
- Spaying and Neutering isn’t ‘natural’. Humans domesticated animals and brought them into our lives. The environment we and our pets live in is very different from the ‘natural’ one. We have made them dependent on us, which means we are responsible for their well being, just as we are with any other family member.
- We can sell the litter and make money. Even well known breeders are fortunate if they break even on raising purebred litters. Vaccinations, health care costs and feeding consume most of the profit.
- I am concerned about my pet undergoing anesthesia. Although there is always a slight risk involved, anesthetics used by veterinarians are very safe. The medical benefits of having your pet neutered or spayed far outweigh the slight risk involved with undergoing anesthesia.
- My dog’s personality will change. Contrary to popular belief, neutering has absolutely no negative affect on a dog’s temperament or personality. On a positive note it may make your dog less likely to stray, less aggressive and less likely to fight, and often more amenable to training.
- It will cost a lot of money. Neutering your dog is not as expensive as you may think. It is certainly cheaper than the cost of an unplanned pregnancy and raising a litter of pups, or the vet’s bill following your dog’s road accident if out straying or misalliance injections for an unplanned mating. Neutering is the only guaranteed way of preventing unplanned puppies and kittens being born, and the needless destruction of thousands of dogs and cats every year.