There are a few reasons people choose to spay or neuter their pets. Their vet recommended it; they don’t want to have puppies or kittens, or solely for aesthetic purposes. But what is the importance of it?
Dogs and cats that are not spayed are likely to develop what is called a pyometra. It means a pus-filled uterus. The uterus fills with infectious pus that has the potential to leak through the uterine walls into the bloodstream, causing toxic effects in the body. If left untreated, death is inevitable. These pets can present with lethargy, inappetence, vomiting and/or vaginal discharge.
Another important reason to spay your dog or cat is to reduce the risk of mammary tumours. A puppy that is spayed before having a heat cycle is not expected to develop mammary tumours. However, the risk goes up with each heat cycle. After one heat cycle, the risk is about 7%, but after that, the risk rises to 25%. For cats, the younger you spay them, the more you reduce to the risk. For example, spaying at <6 months results in a 91% reduction in risk, spaying <1 year results in an 86% reduction in risk, and <2 years results in 11% reduction in risk. Once mature, cats have continuous heat cycles, unlike dogs who typically cycle once to twice a year. Cats will continue to go into heat until they become pregnant or are spayed.
We talked about females, but what about males? It is important to neuter dogs in order to reduce the risk of an enlarged or infected prostate. As the dog ages, the prostate can become uncomfortable and in some cases, become so enlarged that it can interfere with defecation. They can also be more prone to urinary tract infections. Neutering your dog can also help with aggression, although depending on the level of aggression, training is also recommended. In cats, neutering can help significantly with marking behaviours, urine odour, feline asthma, and gingivitis.
If you have any questions, give us a call at 902.477.4040.
Written by: Trisha Ferris, RVT