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Spaying or neutering is not just appropriate but strongly recommended for a wide variety of pet animals, from dogs and cats to rabbits, ferrets and many more! There is certainly no shortage of pets within the UK, and no one should consider breeding from their animal simply because they think they might be filling a gap in the market or providing an essential service to pets by keeping their numbers high! Spaying and neutering can also have a range of positive health benefits for pets, as well as helping to keep numbers under control, and can help to prevent a range of conditions and illnesses from developing in later life. While most pet owners understand the importance of spaying and neutering, nevertheless it is understandable to have some concerns about the procedures themselves, and the effect that they will have on the pet in the long term. While research is important and understanding exactly what spaying and neutering involves is vital for the peace of mind of any pet owner, it is also important to make sure that the research you undertake is performed using reliable sources. Many people fall for several of the myths, old wives tales and assumptions that are often repeated as fact regarding spaying or neutering, which can lead to an unfounded reluctance or uncertainty about spaying or neutering pets. If you want to make sure that you have your facts straight, or wish to find out more about some of the common myths and assumptions made about spaying and neutering, keep reading!
While spaying and neutering can help to remove your pet’s urge to roam, fight, and seek a breeding partner, this is a positive thing and not something that is considered to cause a fundamental change in the personality of a pet. Unless you are planning to breed from your pet and so need to keep them entire, being un-neutered while being prevented from reproducing can lead to a great deal of stress and unhappiness in your pet, which is itself an unnatural state and a personality change that can in fact be prevented by spaying or neutering in the first instance.
Spaying or neutering in and of itself does not cause a pet to put on weight. Weight gain in spayed or neutered pets is often caused by the natural aging of your pet after they leave their juvenile stage, feeding a diet that is inappropriate for a neutered pet, or not getting enough exercise.
Castrating an animal does not leave a scar after healing, and pet shows will generally either hold separate classes for neutered and entire pets, or judge them together without taking their neutered status into account. Spaying a female pet is a rather more involved procedure, but the incision made in order to spay is very small and should heal without leaving a mark. Occasionally, the fur that re-grows over the shaved area of the coat may appear to be a slightly different colour to the rest of the coat for some species whose coat colour is dictated by their body temperature, such as Siamese cats. If this is a concern for you, find a veterinarian who performs a midline procedure (under the belly of the cat) rather than a flank spay, which is performed on the side of the body.
Even if you own a cat or caged animal that does not leave the house, or a dog that is only walked on the lead under close supervision, it is still important to have them spayed or neutered. Any pet could potentially escape to reproduce, and the urge to do so is much stronger in un-neutered pets than those that are neutered. Also, neutering or spaying any pet can help to minimise or remove the chances of them contracting a range of conditions that entire pets can be prone to developing in later life.
The idea that interfering with reproduction is a moral issue is quite commonly held, but this comes down in large part to the anthropomorphism of pets, or our assigning human feelings and emotions to them. Once the ability to reproduce has been removed from a pet, it is not missed; neutered and spayed pets do not feel emotional, societal or evolutionary urges to reproduce after spaying or neutering.
Received wisdom used to dictate that female pets should be allowed or even encouraged to have one litter before neutering, and that it was actually detrimental to their health not to do so. Again, there is a large helping of anthropomorphism in play with this one, and there is no scientific, emotional or behavioural reason for why a female pet should have a litter before being spayed.
The cost of spaying or neutering a pet can vary greatly depending on the area of the country you live in, the size and type of your pet and their sex. However, spaying and neutering is never as expensive as dealing with an unplanned or unwanted litter, and if you feel that you cannot afford to have your pet spayed or neutered then you should consider carefully if you are in fact able to care for them appropriately at all.
Any surgical procedure that requires a general anaesthetic to be administered is not without its risks, and your veterinary surgeon will explain these to you before going ahead. Castrating a pet is a very straightforward procedure, completed in a matter of minutes, and unless there is any underlying health issue or reason for why a pet might not deal well with a general anaesthetic, the risk factors are miniscule. Spaying a female pet is a rather more involved procedure, but again, if your pet is in good health and has no elevated risk factors, the chances of anything going wrong or any potential problems occurring are less than 1%, and even so, are generally manageable by your experienced veterinary team.
If you have any concerns about spaying or neutering or are having problems decoding the facts from the fiction, arrange to have an informal chat with your vet before you book your pet in for their procedure. They will be able to explain the process to you in detail, and answer any questions you might have, leaving you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are doing the right thing.
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