Animal “fixing” has always been a controversial topic among pet lovers. There are those who promote this practice, and then there are others citing arguments against spaying and neutering. However, a more holistic approach is necessary to fully understand the impact of this practice on not only animals but the society as a whole.
Hoping to paint a more objective picture on this sensitive topic, we have gathered the most essential spay and neuter statistics, while also trying to address the more philosophical issues of whether or not neutering is ethical, as well as naming some of the risks of spaying and neutering that every responsible and dedicated pet owner should know beforehand.
To learn everything there is about spaying and neutering (and more), read the most important stats in the article below.
Top 10 Key Spay and Neuter Facts and Stats
- World Spay Day was started by actress Doris Day in 1995.
- It is illegal to spay dogs in Norway.
- 32 US states require the sterilization of all dogs adopted from shelters.
- About 85% of dogs in the US have been neutered.
- A recent US study showed that early spaying and neutering of dogs can make them more susceptible to certain diseases.
- Around 80% of the 75 to 80 million pet cats in the US have been spayed or neutered.
- When it comes to the average cat spay cost in the US, the price can go up to $500.
- 400 US cities and counties have adopted the “trap-neuter-release” approach to solving the feral cat problem.
- Non-profit spay and neuter clinics in the US are mostly used by low-income families.
- Unless spayed, in 6 years’ time, a female dog and her offspring can produce around 67,000 puppies.
- The Michelson Prize and Grants program is offering a $25 million prize for a non-surgical solution (sterilant) for dogs and cats.
Spay and Neuter Facts from Around the Globe
1. World Spay Day was started by actress Doris Day in 1995.
Almost 70 countries around the world now support this event where they highlight positive aspects of spaying and neutering.
2. By 2020 most of Belgium’s 2 million cats will either be spayed or neutered.
Belgium is the first country in the world that passed this mandatory spaying law in an attempt to combat the ever-expanding population of stray cats, seeing how around 30,000 felines end up abandoned every year.
3. Only 20% of dogs in Sweden are neutered.
Despite this surprising spay and neuter statistics, Scandinavian countries have almost no pet overpopulation issues. This is mostly due to strict laws that forbid Scandinavians to let their dogs roam freely, as well as the lower number of dogs in Scandinavian countries in general.
4. It is illegal to spay dogs in Norway.
Since this procedure is seen as mutilation in Norway, more than 50% of female dogs battle malignant mammary cancer.
5. Spaying/neutering dogs in the Philippines has been mandatory since 2019.
Since the country has a huge rabies problem, in part due to dog overpopulation, the new Responsible Dog Ownership Act of 2020 also includes obligatory dog sterilization.
6. Trap–neuter–release statistics in Nova Scotia (Canada) demonstrate just how effective this method is in combating the overpopulation of strays.
How many animals are spayed and neutered each year? Well, in Canada, mobile sterilization clinics and the adoption of sociable (feral) kittens and cats helped reduce overpopulation issues. By 2018, they managed to spay or neuter some 7,330 kittens and puppies, thus greatly reducing the number of strays roaming freely.
7. Around 94% of cat owners in Canada had their felines either spayed or neutered.
While Canada is a country of cat lovers where the majority of owners are, in fact, behaving responsibly, the country is still dealing with major cat overpopulation issues.
Canine Spay and Neuter Facts and Statistics in the US
8. 32 US states require sterilization for all dogs adopted from shelters.
Is neutering cruel? This requirement, as well as the spay and neuter movement, had a direct impact on the decline of euthanized dogs in shelters.
9. About 85% of dogs in the US have been neutered.
While this does help solve the issue of overpopulation, recent studies have suggested that early neutering in dogs might also have some adverse health side effects in certain breeds.
10. When it comes to the average dog neutering cost in the US, the price ranges between $45 to $300.
However, since the procedure is more complicated and risky for females, spaying typically costs more and can range anywhere between $65 to $500.
11. A recent US study showed that early spaying and neutering of dogs can make them more susceptible to certain diseases (depending on the breed).
As the latest dog reproduction facts reveal, neutering is the only permanent method of curbing uncontrolled breeding. Moreover, it helps prolong the animals’ lifespan. Yet, new data also suggests that early sterilization increases the chances of developing certain types of cancer and musculoskeletal diseases.
12. Numerous US states have experienced increased dog abandonment rates due to strict spay and neuter policies.
This is especially problematic in southern (rural) US states. For instance, Texas now has around 1 million stray dogs, statistics on spaying and neutering pets show.
13. Humane organizations in the US spend around $2.5 billion annually on animal shelters and rescue groups.
As one of the direct consequences of uncontrolled breeding as well as pet abandonment, US animal shelters are overcrowded. Yet, despite there being a staggering number of adoptable, healthy dogs that are usually spayed or neutered by shelters, puppy mills are a booming business in the US.
Feline Spaying and Neutering Facts and Stats in the US
14. According to available data, around 80% of the 75 to 80 million pet cats in the US have been either spayed or neutered.
(The Humane Society)
Nevertheless, many were allowed to breed and have kittens before the procedure had even taken place since cats can become sexually active as early as 4 months old.
15. Around 65% of neutered and spayed cats are now kept indoors in the US.
(The Humane Society)
The heightened awareness of the many dangers even sterilized cats are exposed to has prompted cat owners to keep their pets indoors.
16. When it comes to the average cat spay cost in the US, the price can go up to $500.
When this procedure is done in a private veterinary clinic, female sterilization can cost anywhere between $300 and $500. On the other hand, neutering (male sterilization) is a lot cheaper, usually around $200, as the procedure is far less complicated.
Still, due to low-cost spay and neuter clinics, both procedures can be done for as little as $50.
17. 400 US cities and counties have adopted the “trap-neuter-release” approach to solving the feral cat problem.
(LA Times, Alley Cat Allies)
As much as 50% of female feral cats in a colony have to be spayed in order to see a significant drop in cat numbers, the latest trap–neuter–return statistic shows.
Seeing how this is a gargantuan task when feral cats are concerned, the study points that only 3% of feral cats are sterilized.
18. US families with higher incomes are more likely to spay their pet cats.
93% of US families with an annual income of over $35,000 have their pet cats sterilized, according to national neuter and spay facts, as opposed to just 51% of families earning less than $35,000.
19. Feral cats represent a huge issue for most US cities.
Data indicates that most feral cats are the result of pets that have not been neutered/spayed and then simply abandoned. While the precise number of feral cats in the US is not known, the numbers range from 32 million to triple that number.
Additional Facts About Spaying and Neutering
20. The Michelson Prize and Grants program is offering a $25 million prize for a non-surgical solution (sterilant) for both dogs and cats.
The solution has to be in the form of a single treatment for both cats and dogs. They have also offered $50 million in research grant money, attracting many a scientist worldwide. The research is ongoing and future steps include products based on the most successful research findings.
21. Though spaying and neutering are fairly similar, there is one major spay and neuter difference.
To clarify the spay vs neuter confusion, we need to be mindful of one thing — spaying is performed strictly on females as it includes the removal of female reproductive organs (namely, the ovaries and the uterus), whereas neutering is performed on male animals where both the testicles are removed.
22. Non-surgical sterilization is also possible but, as of yet, it does not offer a permanent solution.
According to current spay and neuter facts, immunocontraception in the form of vaccines — which hinder the fertility in animals by producing antibodies and deslorelin (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) — is but one possible solution.
Sadly, none of these are permanent and carry their own set of risks such as the occurrence of mammary tumors and pyometra.
23. Unless spayed, in 6 years’ time, a female dog and her offspring can produce around 67,000 puppies.
Judging how the dog gestation period usually lasts 63 days, a female dog can have 3 litters a year with up to 7 puppies each time.
24. Unfortunately, around 25% of the intact dog population develops testicular cancer.
This type of cancer, as well as other reproductive cancers, are eliminated when spaying or neutering.
25. On average, sterilized animals live longer and healthier lives.
The risks of spaying and neutering (more so for certain dog breeds) do, in fact, exist. Yet current spaying and neutering facts show that sterilized animals live longer, are generally healthier, and experience fewer behavioral problems.
26. Spaying and neutering reduce pet homelessness and pet overpopulation.
(One Green Planet)
With an estimated 200 million stray dogs in the world, spaying and neutering remain the most humane way of reducing the number of abandoned animals.
27. Unless spayed, a cat can produce up to 24 kittens in just one year.
Cats that have not been sterilized can have up to 3 litters per year. What’s more, cats can breed even in their “autumn years” — meaning one cat can have up to 180 kittens in a 15-year span.
28. Vet bills are lower if you sterilize your pet, spay and neuter statistics show.
While “fixed” pets are generally healthier, having the procedure also lowers the risk of certain types of cancers and reproductive system issues. Additionally, having your pet spayed or neutered is far less expensive than caring for a litter of puppies or kittens.
29. Non-profit spay and neuter clinics in the US are mostly used by low-income families.
These clinics play a pivotal role in reducing pet overpopulation and are frequently the only way low-income families get to examine their pets by a vet, neutering facts point out.
30. Families that earn less than $30,000 per annum are less likely to take their pet to a veterinary clinic.
32% of dogs and a staggering 84% of cats from lower-income families that are older than 4 months never receive a rabies vaccination.
31. There are around 70 million stray animals in the US.
(One Green Planet)
While it is impossible to say exactly how many stray dogs are there in the US (or cats for that matter), this staggering figure just goes to show the scope of the issue at hand — in other words, the overall result of pet abandonment and uncontrolled breeding.
Still, the fact remains that only 10% of animals who end up in shelters are either spayed or neutered.
32. With a whopping 125,000 animals killed in 2019, Texas has one of the highest dog euthanasia rates by state in the US.
Due to uncontrolled breeding, US shelters take in between 6 to 8 million dogs and cats each year with some 800,000 of them ending up euthanized. California is a close second with some 110,000 euthanized animals, followed by the state of Florida (66,000), North Carolina (62,000), and Georgia (43,000).
33. Is spaying/neutering cruel?
This is a sensitive matter so a simple yes-or-no answer won’t do here.
Between 6 and 8 million pets end up in shelters across the US every year and merely half of those eventually get adopted. As a result, a lot of perfectly healthy dogs and cats get euthanized because shelters cannot care for so many animals in need.
What’s more, animals who undergo this procedure tend to live longer and healthier lives and have fewer behavior-related issues.
34. Why should we spay and neuter your pets?
Primarily to curb uncontrolled breeding, which often leads to disease, premature death, overcrowded shelters, stray animals, and euthanasia. Moreover, the procedure eliminates the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and developing cancer of the reproductive organs.
Additionally, sterilized pets have fewer unwanted hormone-related behaviors, such as marking their territory (extremely problematic in male cats), roaming instinct, and the diminished likelihood of aggressive behavior which often leads to fights with other males.
35. What are the negative effects of neutering a dog?
Recent studies have found a link between spaying/neutering and certain health issues in dogs. They are predominantly linked with the early sterilization of dog breeds such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers.
In short, these breeds are susceptible to certain cancers and hold a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal issues such as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), which seems to affect neutered males across all breeds.
In addition, as this procedure alters the metabolism as well, some dog breeds are more prone to becoming overweight if their diet is not adjusted accordingly.
36. Do vets recommend neutering?
While most vets are in favor of this procedure, you should always discuss it with your vet first in order to make an informed decision that will benefit the animal. The Veterinary Task Force recommends that cats be sterilized prior to the first estrous cycle which is before 5 months of age.
However, canines differ in this respect as there might be special circumstances when it is not recommended; there are risks involved concerning certain breeds that have to be addressed beforehand.
37. How long does it take for a dog to recover from being spayed?
While each dog is different, on average, it takes 10 days for a dog to heal properly and fully recover from being spayed. It is crucial to ask your vet for specific instructions on how to care for your dog properly during the recuperation period.
38. What is the best age to get a female dog spayed?
There is currently no consensus on this, hence the best course of action would be to consult with an expert, especially in light of the recent discovery concerning the negative effects of early sterilization. The vet will take into consideration all the relevant factors like breed, overall health condition, as well as current age and then offer advice best suited for your particular dog.
39. Why is spaying so expensive?
This is a major surgery that requires anesthesia and pain medication, a new set of sterile instruments for every procedure, and a detailed examination of the animal prior to the procedure.
While it is highly unlikely that there will ever be a consensus among pet lovers when it comes to spaying and neutering, simply knowing and understanding more could help many a pet owner make the right decision when it comes to their beloved four-legged companions.
This is where the latest spay and neuter statistics come in handy. The fact that people in general, not just pet owners, could benefit from these makes them worthwhile. In addition, it will also help them realize that owning an animal means a lot more than just cuddling, feeding or going out for a walk. It is a life-long commitment that will likely include some hard decisions along the way.