Monday, June 24, 2024

ANIMALS 101 – DO YOU HAVE SOME QUESTIONS OR BAD EXCUSES ABOUT SPAYING AND NEUTERING?

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HERE ARE SOME ANSWERS TO THE BAD EXCUSES, MYTHS, AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SPAYING AND NEUTERING YOUR PETS.

Last week we looked at many of the benefits of spaying and neutering your pets including curbing the massive overpopulation crisis, health, behaviour, and other community benefits. We also looked at different methods and criticism around spaying and neutering your pets. Today I want to focus on some frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering, bad excuses for not spaying and neutering and debunking some common myths about this important topic.

I am not a veterinarian, but I follow trusted veterinarians’ advice on healthcare. It is still important to look at your individual pet, their breed, and health and to discuss it with the vet who will be operating. 

spaying and neutering

FAQ ABOUT SPAYING & NEUTERING

(Shared by Spay and Neuter SA)

Even though this procedure is a common procedure for vets, not all vets are good at it, so do your homework on the vet! Cats & dogs are common patients, but please use an exotic-qualified vet for other animals! Which vet to choose?

Since the massive overpopulation crisis includes more than just cats and dogs, in general, we advise that all animals are spayed/neutered, but there might be exceptions due to safety or medical reasons. Spaying or neutering a bird and certain reptiles is not routine surgery and can be riskier.  There are other ways to prevent litters which should be done under the guidance of experts with highly responsible pet parents.

WHAT AGE SHOULD I SPAY/NEUTER MY PET?

This is a controversial topic we touched on last week and you need to do your homework for your individual pet and their breed, but an experienced vet can spay and neuter at an age as young as 6-8 weeks old. The risks involved with anesthesia may be slightly greater at this age.  Older females that are not spayed are at risk too. There is generally no other age limit for the procedure as long as your pet is healthy and the vet’s skills play a role.  My dogs were neutered around 6 months of age and personally I don’t advise earlier than that.

MY PET JUST GAVE BIRTH, HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT TO SPAY?

Please prevent this, but if it did happen, the suggested time for animals that have recently given birth is about 2 weeks after the young have been weaned and the mother’s milk has dried up. Pups and kittens should stay with mom for 12 weeks as they learn valuable behaviour from mom.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

Even though spay and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are some of the most common procedures done by vets.  As with any surgery, there are risks associated with anesthesia and potential surgical complications. The overall occurrence of these risks is very rare.

During a spay or neuter surgery, the animal is fully anesthetized, so they feel no pain. Afterward, some animals seem to experience some discomfort temporarily, but with pain medication, discomfort may not be experienced at all.

Although possible, most vets will probably advise against spaying a female in heat due to more swelling and a higher risk of bleeding. This surgery may take longer and be more expensive.

ARE THERE SPECIFIC PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE AFTER THE PROCEDURE?

Apart from the usual veterinary advice like keeping your pet still and keeping the wound clean, you also need to phone your vet the moment you think something is not right and keep the freshly-neutered males away from non-spayed females for some time. According to vetcare.com, most spay and neuter skin incisions are fully healed within about 10–14 days, which coincides with the time that stitches or staples, if any, will need to be removed.

When it comes to male neuters for various species, after the testicles are removed, it takes time for all of the residual sperm to clear out of the pipes. Ask your vet how long, but some sources suggest days to weeks. During this time, a freshly-neutered male can possibly still impregnate females.

IS THE PROCEDURE EXPENSIVE?

It probably depends on what you spend money on and whether your pet’s health is a priority to you. The cost of spaying or neutering depends on the sex, size, and age of the pet, your veterinarian’s fees, and a few other factors. Remember that spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost and the cost far outweighs the cost of health-related issues due to not spaying and neutering, or raising litters. There are many opportunities to do this at more affordable rates and adoption fees include it!

In general, spaying tends to be more expensive than neutering. Spaying involves opening your dog or cat’s stomach to access the animal’s reproductive organs whereas neutering is less complex.

The cost may vary from town to town, but according to Pawpawpets.com, the average cost of a spay in South Africa is around R1350 for a female cat and around R1800 to a crazy R4000 for a female dog. Neuters can cost around R750-R1000 for a male cat and around R1200 – R2500 for a male dog.

spaying and neutering

MYTHS ABOUT SPAYING & NEUTERING 

(Shared by Spay & Neuter SA)

MYTH: If I’m a responsible owner who keeps my animals from wandering around, I don’t need to sterilize my animals.
FACT: Accidents happen……you know that guy called Murphy? We have countless cases where another unsterilized animal got into that yard and guess what……a litter was born.

MYTH: My pet will get fat and lazy.
FACT: Pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much food and don’t exercise them enough. Choosing a diet that is species-appropriate and suited to the health and lifestyle of your pet is important to prevent weight gain.

MYTH: She needs to have one litter before she is spayed.

FACT: This is factually, medically, and ethically indefensible. Many veterinarians and more recent research recommend that animals are spayed before their first heat cycle (before the age of 7 months or so). This drastically reduces the risk of mammary tumors later in life and prevents uterine infections and unwanted pregnancy. Pregnancy can put unnecessary stress on your pet’s body. There may be exceptions.

MYTH: My children should experience the miracle of birth.
FACT: Even if children can see a pet give birth, which is unlikely, since it usually occurs at night and in seclusion, the lesson they will learn is that animals can be created and discarded as it suits adults. Instead, it should be explained to children that the real miracle is life and that preventing the birth of some pets by spaying and neutering, we can save the lives of others.

MYTH: It was an unexpected litter.
FACT:  If your pets are not sterilized, you can totally expect it!

MYTH: A pet’s behaviour changes dramatically after surgery.
FACT: The spaying and neutering will most likely not alter your pet’s basic personality which is mainly determined by the breed and a few other factors. It can result in some behavioural changes, but usually for the better! Spraying and lifting their legs by males might continue if they developed the behaviour before the surgery or while their male sex hormone levels diminish after surgery which can be a few weeks. Spaying and neutering does not affect a dog’s instinct to protect the home and family.

MYTH: We don’t need to neuter males, because they aren’t the ones having the litters.
FACT: This is the most prevalent myth yet the most ridiculous. It takes two to tango in case you missed biology class. A female can have one litter at a time, but the same male can impregnate many females in a short time.

spay and neuter

BAD EXCUSES

One of the worst excuses I have heard is that preventing pets from having litters is unnatural and that if God thought it was a problem, he would make them sterile.  The fact is that we have already interfered with nature by domesticating dogs, cats, and other animals. We domesticated the dog 15 000 years ago and the cat 8 000 years ago. In doing so, we helped create this problem. Now it’s our responsibility to solve it. It’s also unnatural to be killing so many of them in our pounds and shelters each year. You can’t blame the shelters, but you should blame breeders and dealers of any kind.

I’ll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens; we want just one litter.

The whole overpopulation crisis is caused by this line of thinking (or lack of thinking). You may find homes for all of your pet’s litter, but each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters. Also, in less than one year, each of your pet’s offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.

Spaying and neutering is too expensive. Whatever the actual price, spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost and a relatively small cost when compared to all the benefits.  It’s a bargain compared to the cost of having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and litter, to treat cancers or injuries from fights.  There are many well-priced spaying and neutering opportunities if you look for them.

My dog is purebred and they do not end up in shelters. Wrong darling, in the last few years purebreds in shelters, have increased drastically to around 25%, or even more by now. It is sad that you value one life more than another.

I can’t look my pet in the eyes and castrate or spay them.  How about looking into the eyes of the animals in shelters who will be humanely killed because people didn’t sterilize their pets? Did you know that about 2800 healthy animals are euthanized (humanely killed) DAILY IN SA?

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION AND JOIN THE SPAY & NEUTER REVOLUTION!  

Changing the fate of animals and the massive overpopulation crisis resolves around three principles namely spaying and neutering, education, and stricter and enforced laws for those who don’t respond to being asked nicely.  No breeding can be “responsible” when we have a massive overpopulation crisis.

  • Spay & neuter your pets.
  • Share, educate & advocate for it.
  • Donate to spay & neuter campaigns.
  • Support petitions and legislation on the topic.
  • Don’t support animal dealers, breeders, or pet shops that fuel the overpopulation crisis.
  • Keep your animals safe in your yard.
  • Adopt from reputable organizations. This is the only ethical option!

We cannot adopt our way out of this massive overpopulation crisis and we can’t save the animals as fast as breeders are breeding them.  Please help us change lives, by spaying and neutering your pets to prevent unwanted litters. You can also help by educating others on this topic and by not supporting free animal ads, breeders in any form, pet shops, or animal brokers.

Next week we will look at our ethical and welfare issues when it comes to breeding.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!