Spaying is a general term used to describe the ovariohysterectomy of a female animal. Neutering is a general term used to describe the castration of a male animal. However, neutering is often used in reference to both genders. The surgical procedure renders the animal incapable of reproducing. In the U.S., about 10% of the animals received in shelters have been neutered but approximately 90% of household pets are sterile, so the crisis exists primarily among homeless animals.
The American Humane Association believes that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities should be spayed or neutered. Such sterilization includes prepubertal spaying and neutering of kittens and puppies at sometimes very young ages. Most veterinarians, however, recommend neuter and spaying between six and eight months of age. My advice is to let your vet be your guide but make sure it gets done.
Benefits to your pet include a decrease in the likelihood of some cancers that are fed by sex hormones and cancers that can develop in the organs that are removed. Neutered animals are typically better pets, friendlier to both people and other animals, less likely to stray, do not menstruate, and are not inclined to mark their territory (which can be smelly and messy).
Also, a responsible pet owner will not want to risk that their pet may add to the unwanted pet population and the millions of animals that are euthanized every year.
Neutering can be accomplished at any vet’s office but can also be done at animal shelters or any of the many low cost spay and neuter clinics/services that have popped up in most communities. If cost is a concern, contact the Humane Society or the ASPCA and ask them for a list of low-cost or even free providers. Your vet may be willing to set up a long term payment plan.
To reward our clients and to demonstrate our support for the spay and neuter movement, Sit. Stay. Grow. offers a 5% discount on all pet services for neutered pets.