To neuter or not to neuter

Spaying makes for a cleaner, calmer pet who tends to be more gentle and affectionate.

A very important dilemma that all pet owners face is whether to sterilize their beloved pets or not. While abroad it is more or less a routine procedure these days, in India pet owners are still struggling greatly to grasp this concept.

In this article, though I speak mainly of dogs, most points are applicable to cats as well. If we want our cats to live even till half of their normal life span, which is of 15 to 20 years, we will need to sterilize them. Otherwise, the dangers they are exposed to while in search of a mate will kill them before time their natural time. Sterilisation of a male animal is called neutering while that of a female is called spaying. An unsterilised pet is referred to as ‘intact’. The two main areas of benefit in sterilizing your pet are health and behaviour. When it comes to the health aspect, neutering lessens the chances of prostate and urinary problems as well as testicular cancer. There are many behavioral benefits too. Intact male dogs exhibit what we call testosterone-dependent behaviours. These include aggression (to other dogs or people), roaming and urine marking. They should be neutered at 1 or before 1 ½ years to avoid these behaviors becoming a habit. Roaming is a very strong instinct in intact dogs. D
on’t let your dog roam free just because the resulting litters aren’t your problem. He’s going to get hit by a car or get in a dog fight. Don’t take male-dominant behaviour lightly.

Spaying makes for a cleaner, calmer pet who tends to be more gentle and affectionate. She won’t have the incessant need to seek out a mate or have a bloody discharge for several days while she’s in heat. Spaying keeps your dog healthier too. One in four dogs that give birth develop pyometra of the uterus.

Some dogs even develop birthing or nursing issues.

Pyometra is a serious issue that can be cured only by risky, emergency spaying. Spaying greatly reduces the chances of breast cancer too. Even a one-time pregnancy is not recommended as it increases hormonal fluctuations and depression in the pet.

If we irresponsibly continue to keep our pets intact, as most of us do here in India, the population will keep on rising and more homeless and stray animals will be created. Pet overpopulation is a serious issue, as we all know. Finding homes for your new family additions is not as easy as you may think. We at PFA, Thiruvananthapuram, have been approached to find loving homes for even expensive breed pups, as the families aren’t able to find homes that meet their care expectations.

The writer is an animal activist and member of PFA, Thiruvananthapuram.

Next Story