Spay/Neuter Awareness Month
Everyone likes to cuddle with cute puppies and kittens. But soon, these cute puppies and kittens will turn into adult pets, and while some of them may find a loving family, others may end up along with countless others in a shelter trying to find a forever home—or, more likely, euthanized. To call attention to this problem, the Humane Society of the United States has named February Spay/Neuter Awareness Month to shine a spotlight on the overpopulation of animals in the U.S. and the importance of spaying or neutering pets to help prevent overpopulation. It also is meant to bring attention to the need for affordable spay/neuter services, particularly in underserved communities.
The statistics, according to WhenToSpay.org, are surprising: Dogs can conceive two litters a year, and in each litter there is an average of 6-10 puppies. Cats can have three litters a year with an average of 4-6 kittens. To make matters worse, cats can go into heat at just 4 months, and dogs can go into heat at 5 months. If pet parents do not understand that pets can go into heat and get pregnant at such young ages, they may certainly be shocked and unprepared to handle the situation if it should arise. To prevent this, a veterinarian should be consulted at the first opportunity when a new pet joins the family, and will advise as to how soon the pet can be safely fixed.
Many people don’t realize that there are benefits for a pet’s health when they get fixed. For male pets, there is a decrease in the chances of testicular cancer, aggressive behavior and roaming to find a mate. For female pets, spaying will reduce the likelihood of breast cancer and uterine infections. Any pet spayed at an early age may have the chance to live a longer, healthier life. The lifespan of a dog can increase by an average of 1-3 years, while the average lifespan of a cat can increase by 3-5 years.
Aside from the health benefits, spaying or neutering a pet is cost effective. The cost of caring for a litter and for the vet bills associated with a pet’s pregnancy and medical issues can quickly add up. However, a whopping 90% of animals who are admitted to shelters are not fixed. To help curb the problem of animal overpopulation, some vets, shelters, or organizations may offer financial assistance or reduced rates to fix a pet, assisting families who could otherwise not afford the procedure. For a list of resources in your area, go to http://spayusa.org/ or https://www.petsmartcharities.org/adopt-a-pet/find-a-spayneuter-clinic.
By spreading awareness of the benefits of spaying and neutering, fewer pets will end up being homeless, living in a shelter, or euthanized. If you have an unaltered pet, there is no better time than now to schedule an appointment with a vet to be fixed. We all need to do our part to help prevent unwanted litters!