Having a pet isn’t just fun and games – it’s also a lot of responsibility. You need to ensure that your dog or cat is healthy in all aspects. That means getting them quality food, taking them to get shots and for regular checkups, and maybe even neutering them.
Sterilizing is a big and important decision, which is why it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It takes a lot of research, planning, and consideration to opt for this step.
To help you make the right decision and keep your pet healthy and safe, this guide will tell you all you need to know about why you should or shouldn’t neuter, as well as how to take care of a newly sterilized pet.
Important Neuter Statistics to Know
1. 32 US states have some sort of spay and neuter legislation in place between 2017 and 2019.
(United Spay Alliance)
These legislations include spay and neuter requirements when adopting a pet from a shelter and tax exemptions for helping with the control of the animal population.
2. 81% of individuals surveyed felt that spaying and neutering are essential in controlling pet overpopulation.
A recent survey meant to analyze people’s feelings towards spaying and neutering revealed that many people support the necessity of the procedure to help control pet overpopulation.
Furthermore, 75% of the surveyed individuals feel that it is the “right thing to do”. Unfortunately, 52% of the responders thought that the procedure was too expensive.
3. Approximately 80% of pet cats in the United States are neutered.
(The Humane Society)
With over 75 million pet cats in the United States, this is a great success. Sadly, most cat owners don’t get the procedure done in time, and usually, they have at least one litter first since cats can get pregnant as early as 4 months.
4. Families with higher incomes are more likely to neuter/spay their pets.
Unfortunately, getting the procedure done can be pretty expensive. A recent survey revealed that 93% of families with incomes over $35K annually neuter their pets, while only 51% of families with incomes under $35K can afford to do it.
5. Just 10% of pets brought into animal shelters were neutered or spayed.
Animals are often brought to shelters due to the owners no longer being able to care for them or for other reasons. Unfortunately, this shows that many pet owners still don’t understand the importance of the procedure or cannot afford it.
Reasons Not to Neuter
Although some recommend neutering their pet and are for the procedure, there are some reasons why it may not be a good idea.
Hormonal imbalance is a more common side effect of neutering dogs. A neutered dog may start to produce less of the thyroid hormones, making its metabolism slower.
As well as a potential weight gain, you might notice symptoms such as a dull coat, too much scaling or shedding, thinning fur, lethargy, and being prone to feeling cold.
One of the first questions new cat and dog owners usually ask is: “At what age should a dog be spayed?”.
Some recommend neutering dogs when they are young, but this might not be the best choice for your pup. Waiting until the puppy develops is the advised option, with your vet being the only one who can give you an exact answer to this question.
Even though neutering puppies is popular, it can damage the joints of bigger breeds. In other words, neutering can make dogs grow taller than the average breed, predispositioning them to joint issues later in life.
The most significant danger regarding castrating or spaying a dog or cat might be the anesthesia used in the procedure.
Not only does anesthesia lower the animal’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to diseases before they recover, but it can also cause a bad reaction.
Swelling where they were injected, anaphylactic shock, and not waking up from anesthesia are all potential risks. Choosing a vet you can trust and who has a lot of experience is of the utmost importance for your pet’s safety.
Reasons to Neuter
With the potential risks and reasons in mind, there are still many benefits to neutering your pet. Below are some that you may want to consider.
Longer & Healthier Life
Regardless of their gender, a neutered or spayed dog tends to live longer and have fewer health issues during their life.
Spaying can prevent malignant or cancerous tumors and uterine infections when it comes to female dogs. Male dogs won’t be at risk of testicular cancer and are less likely to have problems with their prostate.
The risk of FIV and feline leukemia is reduced with neutering, as well as the risk of mammary cancer. Cervical cancer and ovarian cancer also won’t be a risk for your spayed cat any longer.
Male dogs tend to be more energetic and prone to mischief. More often than not, owners struggle to keep their male dogs under control regardless of how much they train them or how authoritative they are.
Neutered dogs are more obedient, are less likely to mark their territory with urine, and probably aren’t going to mount other humans and objects. As well as that, aggression problems may be avoided, and your dog would be less likely to run away.
Behavioral issues for a non-neutered cat include the wish to fight other cats and roam far away from home. Male cats tend to be territorial, as they’re driven by hormones, making them more likely to fight with other males and be aggressive towards visitors in your home.
If a female cat in heat is nearby, you can expect your male cat to be even more motivated to fight other males. This can result in serious injuries and the spread of disease. By neutering your cat, you stop the production of hormones that make them act this way.
Having a neutered or spayed cat may also give you a cleaner home. Cats, especially males, are known to mark their territory with urine during mating season. The female cat heat cycle is a long one, with your cat going into heat every other week unless they mate.
During this time, they may be uninterested in anything other than attracting a mate, making them yowl at all hours of the day.
Not only can this induce headaches, but it’s also likely to attract male cats who’ll hang around your house. Not neutered cat behavior includes fighting, causing a disturbance, and marking their territory with urine – thus wreaking havoc on your home.
As well as that, both male and female cats will stay closer to home when they roam outside if you sterilize them. You won’t have to worry about your cat escaping to find a mate, as they simply won’t be driven by hormones any longer, keeping your kitten safe.
Spaying a dog also benefits their behavior, as they won’t act out of line to attract male attention and will be less likely to run away. Plus, you won’t have to deal with any unpleasantries from male dogs while walking your pet.
Even though neutering and spaying are essential for stray animals, strays aren’t the only ones contributing to overpopulation. Pets do tend to run away during mating season and mate at any chance they get.
The chances of your neutered cat or dog having offspring you don’t know about are zero, and you won’t have to worry about what to do with your female pet’s unexpected litter.
This dramatically reduces the euthanasia of unwanted kittens and reduces the number of feral dogs and cats on the street. By sterilizing your pet, you’re making the community safer for other people and pets.
On top of that, you’re reducing the amount of unnecessary killing of stray animals.
Cat & Dog Neutering Procedure
Sterilizing your pet is done with general anesthesia. Before the surgery, your pet is given medication that makes them sleepy and helps them with the pain. A breathing tube is put down their throat to help them breathe after the anesthesia takes effect.
In the cases of male cats, face masks may be more convenient than breathing tubes.
A machine always monitors your pet’s health state to make sure they’re okay, with the heart rate and oxygen levels being the most important.
When it comes to the dog neutering procedure, an incision is made near the scrotum. After that, the testicles are removed through the incision, and the incision is closed with stitches. All that’s left is for the body to absorb the leftover skin over time.
Male cat neutering is done much more quickly, by only making the incision and getting the testicles out. The incision heals by itself over time in this case.
Castration is different from a simple vasectomy, as it prevents the further production of male hormones. If your neutered dog still has balls, it means they went through a vasectomy instead of a castration.
Vasectomies only make the animal sterile without giving them the behavioral and medical benefits of castration.
With female dogs and cats, things are a little different. The incision is made below the belly button, and the ovaries, uterus, and reproductive tract are all removed. The vet then closes the incision with layers of stitches under the skin.
The body will absorb these stitches in time. Finally, the skin is closed with new stitches that will be removed when the wound heals.
Dog and Cat Neutering Aftercare
The care your pet receives after getting neutered is very important. You’ll notice some changes in behavior as they heal, and you’ll need to know what’s normal and what you should be worried about.
Depending on how your pup or kitten handled the surgery, they may need some painkillers. Your vet will tell you exactly how your little friend did and if you need to worry about them being in pain.
The castration and spaying a dog recovery process also involves scheduling a checkup with your vet.
At home, your dog should have their own quiet corner where they can rest. The hardest part will be fully waking up from the anesthesia, which is why it’s very important for your dog to rest in a dark and quiet environment.
If you have children and other pets, perhaps it’s best to separate them from the spayed dog or cat for the first night.
As the wound is still fresh, it may itch and maybe even sting a little. Caring for your pet after neutering includes preventing them from licking their wound. Licking increases the risk of reopening the wound and can cause an unwanted infection.
In some cases, anesthesia can affect the stomach, so don’t give your pup or kitten any food for a few hours. It’s best to feed them in small amounts so you can see how they react to food.
If you see they have an upset tummy or if they vomit, don’t give them any more food until the next morning.
After Neutering Dog Behavior
You can expect your dog’s behavior to change in the first few days after the surgery. For example, you’ll notice that they’re sleepier and possibly more irritable than usual.
If you inspect the incision, you may notice a little bit of blood or swelling – don’t worry, that’s normal, especially in female dogs.
The vet will probably spray your pup with blue or green spray to indicate they were sterilized. The color will stick around for a while but will fade over time.
The eyes of a neutered dog will also look a bit weepy, as this is a common symptom of recovery. Mild coughing can occur during the first few days.
Even though they might seem scary, these symptoms are nothing to worry about. It’s all part of recovering from the anesthesia.
Contact your vet immediately if your dog isn’t eating after the first day, has difficulty breathing, is still lethargic, and has a fever.
How long does it take for a dog to recover from being spayed?
As the days go by, you’ll notice your dog’s behavior going back to normal. When it comes to female dogs, you shouldn’t let them jump or run too much during the first few weeks, to minimize the risk of the incision reopening.
Care after spaying a dog also includes waiting until their wound fully heals before bathing them and getting them wet.
Long walks, playing with other dogs, running, and jumping are not activities you should partake in for the first week. You should give your dog some exercise, but make sure the walks are brief and light.
It’s best to walk your female dog when there are few other dogs outside, to avoid attracting male attention. She might have just been spayed, but she could still attract male dogs.
How do you take care of a female cat after being spayed?
Female cats shouldn’t jump around the house, run, or climb for a week or so, either. It’s also a good idea not to let your cat outside at all until your vet deems it okay.
Their immune system is lowered because of anesthesia, so the risk of getting a disease or infection increases.
If you have other cats that aren’t neutered, perhaps it’s best to keep your pets separated for a day or two before the spayed kitten recovers from anesthesia.
How to comfort a dog after spaying or castration?
The most important thing to remember is that your pet will need all of your emotional support. There’s nothing wrong in showing them a little extra attention while they heal. This is especially true for cats, as they tend to need more reassurance than dogs.
However, be careful not to overdo it. Coddling may encourage your pet to keep acting lethargic and ill to get special treatment and attention, so it might start looking like the recovery process is taking longer than it should.
If you find yourself asking, “How long does it take for a neutered cat to heal?”, it’s probably time to start giving your pet a bit less attention.
The decision of spaying or castrating your pet is not something that should be taken lightly. Even though there are different opinions on the topic, the only ones that know what’s right for your pet are you and your vet.
If you do decide to do it, make sure that your newly neutered dog or cat has exactly what they need to ease the recovery process. Your love and care will be the two most important factors that ensure that your pet is comfortable, safe, and healthy.