Before my experience at shelters, I never thought of Bob Barker as a hero, or a particularly smart man. He made funny jokes, and had excited women run up to his stage and give him kisses and hugs. For those of you who do not know who Bob Barker is, he was the host of a game show called The Price is Right. At the end of every show starting in 1972, Bob would say, “Bob Barker reminding you: help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Goodbye, everybody”
Spaying and Neutering is one of the easiest, and best things that you can do for your pet, your household, and your community. It’s a one-time expense that solves a world of problems.
Spaying is the act of surgically removing the ovaries and uterus. Veterinarians have this down to a science these days, and while there are always risks associated with the surgery, unless your veterinarian advises you otherwise due to your pet’s overall health, age, or size, spaying is in most cases very safe for your pet. At the shelter where I worked, people were always amazed at how small our doctor was able to make the spay incision – as a child, I remember seeing huge spay incisions and it taking a few days for a pooch to recuperate – not so anymore. A spay incision should be kept clean after surgery, and most veterinarians prescribe a dose of antibiotics to ward off infection. Aside from the obvious fact that female dogs would no longer be able to birth litters of puppies, what is bigger than that is the fact that you will be saving her from a likelihood of cancerous mammary tumors. Female dogs, once spayed, will no longer go through heat cycles that might bring out the aggression in other dogs or cause her to try to escape your house. Her angst will subside, and you won’t have any more messes to look forward to cleaning up.
Neutering is the act of surgically removing the testes from the scrotal sac. Male dogs are left with some loose skin between their legs where some mild swelling might occur if your dog is too active in the days after surgery. The loose skin will seemingly disappear over time as the hormones that were once created by the testes dissipate. Those surgical cones that dogs wear after surgery are usually needed more for male dogs to keep them from licking and creating infection or swelling. Male dogs, once neutered, will be safe from testicular cancer as they age. They, too, will be more relaxed. Testosterone, the male hormone that tells dogs to be assertive and bossy, will subside over time. He won’t be so inclined to snap at other dogs passing by on his leash, and he won’t feel the need to wander away from home anymore. If neutering is done early enough in a dog’s life, urine marking and awkward moments when Rover is humping a stranger’s leg won’t even have to happen.
It is very common for families with multiple dogs to feel that all they need to do is neuter the one male dog or spay the one female dog instead of all three of their dogs. This usually doesn’t work. While it solves the problem of not having any more litters of puppies from those particular dogs, it does not, however, solve aggression problems. Having one dog who is altered, and one or more in the same household that are not, usually causes a different set of problems. Sometimes the two unaltered dogs will gang up on the altered pet, or the two unaltered pets will constantly fight with each other. Simply do yourself a favor and have all of your pets spayed and neutered.
One of the biggest reasons to spay and neuter your pets would be to help your community stop it’s pet over-population problem. You can make a difference in your community. Because more and more shelters are embracing spaying and neutering as one of the solutions to a big bunch of problems, many are helping to provide lower cost, higher volume programs for those families who want to do the right thing, but have limited funding. Many communities are trying to embrace the No-Kill Revolution and are realizing that destroying animals is no means of controlling population. If there are not enough homes for the deserving pets at local shelters, why create more?