Spay and Neuter Myths debunked

by Nancy Boland

Pet overpopulation and euthanasia are a continuing problem and the only way to get to the heart and the problem is to spay or neuter your dog, and continue to spread awareness about the importance of doing so.

Spaying or neutering your dog is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Unneutered male dogs that are not able to mate experience frustration, which can lead to aggression. Unspayed female dogs attract unwanted attention every six months.

Sterilising dogs and cats has been hailed as the most effective method for pet population control. You can help save lives by spaying and neutering your pet. If pets can’t breed, they don’t produce puppies that end up in animal shelters to be adopted or euthanised.

The perpetuation of myths about spaying and neutering and the high cost cause many people to avoid the procedures, but the fact is sterilisation makes your dog a better behaved, healthier pet and will save you money in the long run.

Myth 1: A dog will feel like less of a “man” or “woman” after sterilisation 

This myth stems from the human imposing their own feelings of loss on the animal. In fact, your dog will simply have one less need to fulfill. A dog’s basic personality is formed more by environment and genetics than by sex hormones, so sterilisation will not change your dog’s basic personality, make your dog sluggish or affect its natural instinct to protect the pack. However, it may well give you a better behaved dog.

Neutered dogs have less desire to roam, mark territory and exert dominance over other dogs. Spayed dogs no longer experience the hormonal changes during heat cycles that turn your pet into a nervous dog that cries incessantly and attracts unwanted male dogs.

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Myth 2: Spaying and neutering will cause weight gain.

Dogs do not get fat simply by being spayed or neutered. Just like humans, dogs gain weight if they eat too much and exercise too little. Any weight gained after spaying or neutering will purely be a matter of more food, and less activity.

Myth 3: Dogs will mourn the loss of their reproductive capabilities.

Not true. Dogs reproduce solely to ensure the survival of their species, like all animals. They do not get empty nest syndrome. Female dogs nurse for a few weeks, teach the puppies rules, boundaries, and limitations and then emotionally let them go. Male dogs are not “fathers” in the human sense of the word; they do not even recognise puppies as their own.

Myth 4: Spaying and Neutering is expensive

Today there are enough low cost and free spay and neuter programs that this can no longer be an excuse! Even if there aren’t any offers available at your local vets,  the emotional distress and money spent on medical treatments you will save down the line makes spaying/neutering a worthwhile investment regardless.

Getting your dog(s) neutered or spayed reduces the risk of incidence of a number of health problems that can be difficult and costly to treat. In females, it eliminates the possibility of developing uterine or ovarian cancer.  Also, some females experience phantom pregnancies that can incredibly distressing. With male dogs, prostate cancer risk is greatly reduced, meaning your dog will live a healthier and longer life.

The truth is that neutered and spayed dogs make better behaved, healthier pets. Although awareness of sterilisation is increasing, there is still a long way to go. So lead by example, and do the right thing.

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