Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
A classic line from one of my daughter's favorite movies: "Shrek 2," where "Donkey" wants to neuter "Puss in Boots" because he doesn't like him, pays homage to a vet's favorite sign-off line in showbiz history. Bob Barker from "The Price is Right" always reminded people to "help control the pet population ... have your pets spayed or neutered."
I was pleased to hear Drew Carey continue to relay this message and carry on the tradition when Barker retired.
So what are the benefits to "giving them the Bob Barker treatment?" As mentioned last week, the roaming behaviors that intact males have when finding females in heat are a leading cause of getting hit by cars. Males may also be less likely to engage in marking/spraying and mounting behaviors if neutered (surgical removal of the testicles) before sexual maturity. Another behavioral consideration is that neutered males may be less likely to have aggression problems. The health benefits of neutering include minimizing testicular, prostatic, and perianal cancers. A cosmetic benefit (and cleanliness benefit) of neutering is elimination of the thick yellowish discharge persistently at the end of a dog's penis, which originates from the prostate gland. Of course, neutering prevents unwanted litters, and each neutered male probably prevents more unwanted litters than each spayed female because of the fact that one intact male could pretty much get the whole neighborhood pregnant. For cats, un-neutered males are more likely to fight and get substantial bite wound abscesses from which they get sick. We often find ourselves patching up a sick and injured tomcat's battle wounds and neutering him at the same time so it doesn't happen again.
Spaying female pets is an ovariohysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus as well as both ovaries. The health benefits of spaying include decreasing the likelihood of mammary cancer to approximately 1/16th the chance of intact females if done before their first heat, and eliminating the chance of pyometra (a not uncommon, potentially fatal infection of the uterus). Spayed females will not attract male dogs into your yard from miles around, they will not bleed from their backside in your house twice a year during their heats, and other annoying heat-related behaviors will be eliminated. And again, spayed females can, of course, not produce unwanted litters.
We recommend doing all spays and neuters in both dogs and cats around 6 months of age, it is a same-day procedure, and they are given pain medications as well as antibiotics while they are under general anesthesia for the surgery. Since nobody says it better than Bob Barker: "Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered."
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