Are Spaying and Neutering Pets Morally Right? What Should Pet Owners Do?

The debate over whether or not to spay or neuter pets has been going on for years. Some people believe that it is morally wrong to do so, while others argue that it is a responsible part of high-quality veterinary care. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, and ultimately it is up to the pet owner to decide what they believe is best for their pet.

Those against spaying or neutering pets typically claim that it is a form of mutilation and that it robs the animal of its natural instincts. They believe that pet owners should be responsible for their animals and not alter them in any way. Others believe that spaying or neutering pets help reduce the number of homeless and euthanized animals each year.

What Experts Are Saying

Many animal organizations and veterinary associations recommend spaying or neutering pets. First and foremost, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) believes that pet neutering and spaying is the best way to help reduce pet overpopulation. They also state that spayed or neutered animals are less likely to roam, which can help reduce their chances of getting lost or being hit by a car.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) supports spaying and neutering as well, stating that it has many health benefits for pets. For example, they claim that spayed females are less likely to develop mammary cancer and that neutered males are less likely to get prostate cancer.

Moreover, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the largest animal rights organization globally, endorses spaying and neutering to help reduce pet homelessness. They also argue that it is more humane to spay or neuter an animal than to allow it to reproduce uncontrollably.

Pros of Pet Spaying and Neutering, According to Studies

Several benefits are associated with spaying and neutering pets. These include:

  • Spaying or neutering can help lessen the number of homeless animals.
  • Spaying or neutering can help lessen the number of euthanized animals each year.
  • Spaying or neutering can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer in pets.
  • Spaying or neutering can help reduce roaming, which can in turn help keep pets safe.
  • Spaying or neutering can help keep pet populations under control.

According to the study by Cornell Feline Health Center, an estimated 30 to 40% of all cats are affected by cancer. Similarly, the same study found that 50% of dogs over the age of 10 get cancer in their lifetime. However, spaying your female pet before a first, second, or third heat cycle reduces the hormones causing mammary gland tumors later in their lives. Studies show that spaying them before their 6th month reduces 91% risk in cats.

For male pets, neutering removes the region where testicular cancer grows, stopping it before it starts. It can also help prevent prostate infections and other forms of diseases involving that gland.

Cons of Spaying and Neutering, According to Experts

There are also potential drawbacks associated with spaying and neutering pets. These include:

  • Neutering your dog early doubles the risk of hip dysplasia.
  • Spaying your female dog prior to their first heat cycle triples the risk of incontinence later in their life, according to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).
  • Spaying and neutering can lead to weight gain and other health problems if not done properly.
  • Pets that are spayed or neutered are more likely to develop hypothyroidism.
  • Spaying female dogs before one year of age increases the risk of osteosarcoma – a type of bone cancer.

What You Can Do

As a pet owner, it is necessary to do your research and decide whether or not to sterilize your pet. Speak with your vet about the pros and cons, and consider what you believe is best for your animal’s overall health and wellbeing.

There is no right or wrong answer, but whatever you decide, be sure to do what you feel is morally right for you and your pet. Also, choose reputable and honest spaying and neutering hospitals or clinics to avoid unnecessary complications. They will also honestly discuss the pros and cons with you.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding to spay or neuter your pet:

  • Decide if you plan or not to breed your animal. If you do not have intentions to breed your pet, then there is no need to keep their reproductive organs intact.
  • Secondly, think about whether or not you are prepared to deal with the additional care that an unaltered animal may require. Pets that aren’t spayed or neutered can often be more aggressive and require more exercise and discipline than those that have been altered.
  • Finally, consider the cost of spaying or neutering your pet. The procedure itself is relatively inexpensive, but there may be other associated costs, such as pre-operative blood work or pain medication.

The Bottom Line

In addition to vaccinations (see this pet vaccinations clinic for more info), regular check-ups, and a healthy diet, spaying or neutering your pet may be the best thing you can do to ensure their long and healthy life. You should consider the benefits and drawbacks, but ultimately the decision is up to you as the pet owner. Make sure to research and talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your animal companion.

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