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CHRONICLE HERALD: Eight important reasons to spay or neuter your pet

Posted on: Thursday, February 1st, 2018

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Spaying/neutering your pet is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your pet will lead a healthy, happy life. It is also the most effective and humane means of decreasing the number of homeless animals and saving lives. February is International Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, a global occasion designed to shine a spotlight on the importance of spaying/neutering companion animals and feral/stray cats.

Here are eight important reasons to spay/neuter your pet.

Your pet will live longer. According to Humane Society of the United States, studies show that, on average, the lifespan for spayed/neutered pets increases by one to three years (dogs) and three to five years (cats).

Spaying offers health benefits to your female pet. Spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian/uterine cancers and life-threatening uterine infection. It also lessens the risk of breast cancer, in 90 per cent of cats and 50 per cent of dogs. Spaying your pet at five months before their first heat provides the best protection from these diseases.

Your spayed female won’t go into heat. Female cats normally go into heat every three weeks between January and November. Unspayed, they may howl relentlessly, escape the house to find a mate, or urinate inappropriately. Female dogs normally go into heat twice a year. Unspayed, they may display unwanted behaviours including aggression.

Neutering provides health benefits to your male pet. If done before six months of age, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer in dogs and cats. It also reduces the risk of prostate troubles in dogs.

Your neutered male won’t wander. Unaltered males will do almost anything to find a mate, including bolting out the door and digging under the fence. Once they roam, they’re at risk of injury/death from traffic, fights with other dogs, becoming lost or stolen. Unaltered male cats are at risk of contracting deadly diseases like feline leukemia.

Your neutered male will behave better. Neutered pets centre their interest on their human families. They are less frustrated, calmer and less likely to bite or get into fights. They also lose the desire to mark their territory by spraying urine in the house.

Spaying/neutering your pet is cost-effective. The cost of spay/neuter surgery is relatively small when compared with the health and behavioral benefits your pet will attain, and it helps to avoid expensive serious health problems in the future. It is also much less than the cost of having a litter — prenatal care, birth complications, food and puppy/kitten care.

Spaying and neutering helps battle pet overpopulation. Each year, thousands of homeless animals end up in shelters and rescues across Nova Scotia. Thousands more who aren’t as lucky are abandoned to face life on the street as strays, suffering from starvation and disease or dying from injury. Pet overpopulation is a direct outcome of unplanned, unwanted litters that could have been prevented by spaying/neutering. Every pet owner has an important role to play in preventing pet overpopulation.

Many pet owners don’t realize that ‘babies’ can have babies of their own. According to the Humane Society of the United States, Female dogs can breed as early as six months; cats as early as four months. Pets also reproduce at alarmingly fast rates. In seven years, one unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 99,000 dogs. In the same timeframe, one unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats! Question: How does one person save thousands of homeless animals? Answer: Just spay/neuter one.

The NS SPCA is leading the fight against pet overpopulation in the province with its two low-cost spay and neuter clinics for low income families and rescue groups, the P.U.P. (Prevent Unwanted Pets) Program and the TNR (Trap Neuter Release) Program. For more information, go to http://spcans.ca or call (toll-free: 1-844-835-4798).

Some people still have misconceptions, excuses and reasons why they don’t spay/neuter their pet. To separate fact from fiction, check out the article at: http://thechronicleherald.ca/dartmouthtribune/1475551-shattering-common-….

As a responsible pet owner, please spay or neuter your pet. Do it now as spring and summer breeding season is just around the corner. Reducing pet overpopulation begins with you, so please ‘spay it forward.’ Together, we can help end the suffering.

Judy Layne lives in Hackett’s Cove with her husband and their two adopted pets. A lifelong animal lover, Judy is a volunteer with the NS SPCA.