8 min read

7 Myths About Spaying And Neutering Debunked

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Spaying or neutering is one of the most important steps that pet parents can take to ensure their dog or cat will lead a healthy and happy life.

So it's surprising that about 20 percent of pet dogs and 10 percent of pet cats in the United States aren't spayed or neutered. (That number doesn't even include stray animals: Ninety-eight percent of the country's 30 to 40 million stray cats haven't been spayed or neutered, for example!)

For World Spay Day, The Dodo teamed up with New York City veterinarian Dr. Rob Proietto to debunk some of the common misconceptions that keep pet parents from doing the responsible thing.

1. "Spaying or neutering is too expensive."

Caring for a pet can be pricey, but having a pet spayed or neutered doesn't have to be a major expense. The cost varies greatly, depending on where you live, but there are countless programs that will help you spay or neuter at a discount (and sometimes even for free!). The ASPCA has a helpful page to show you where you can find an affordable program in your area.

Don't forget: The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is negligible compared with the costs of caring for an accidental litter.

2. "Spaying or neutering will change my pet's personality."

This is a common fear, but it's unfounded.

"Spaying or neutering your pet will not change their personality," Proietto told The Dodo. "We will, however, see less dominant behavior or less roaming behavior after they are neutered/spayed, but in general their happy, playful personalities remain the same."

3. "I don't have to spay/neuter because my pet is always indoors/always with me."

If your pet is always with you or always indoors, he might not be getting the right amount of exercise and socialization. But having a pet spayed or neutered doesn't just prevent him or her from having an accidental litter; it's also important for other health reasons.

"For female dogs there is an increased risk of mammary cancer if they are allowed to go through multiple heat cycles, which is one of the main reasons we spay them before their first heat cycle. We see intact female dogs get an infected uterus called a pyometra, which can be life-threatening and requires surgery to remove the uterus," Proietto told The Dodo.

"For male dogs they have an increased risk of prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) as well as testicular cancer because they remain intact," he added.

The ASPCA agrees, and cites the high fatality rates of breast cancer in dogs.

4. "Spaying or neutering will cause my pet unnecessary pain."

No one wants a beloved pet dog or cat to be in pain! But don't worry: Vets are extremely experienced when it comes to performing this procedure.

"Animals are given pain medications before the procedures so they do not feel any discomfort while under anesthesia and they are also administered pain and anti-inflammatory medications after the procedures to keep them comfortable as they heal," Proietto told The Dodo Make sure you've found a veterinarian you trust, and take steps to calm your pet once you get to the vet's office.

5. "I don't want to emasculate my dog."

Your male dog or cat doesn't want to be "manly" - he wants to be safe, healthy and loved. Having him neutered is one way to ensure he'll stay that way.

"Believe me, they do not miss their testicles," Proietto said. "The health benefits for male dogs includes decreased risk of prostatitis and elimination of risk of testicular cancer."

6. "Spaying or neutering will make my pet fat."

If you're worried about your pet gaining weight, make sure he's getting plenty of exercise and eating nutritious, high-protein meals in appropriate portions. Diet and exercise - not spaying and neutering - are what truly matter when it comes to your pet's weight.

7. "I want my pet to have puppies or kittens because she's just so darn cute!"

Of course puppies and kittens are cute! They're freakin' adorable! But that doesn't mean your dog or cat needs to have a litter. There are thousands of puppies and kittens in shelters around the country, waiting for forever homes. Each year in the U.S., 2.7 million healthy pets are euthanized because of overpopulation. If you're really craving some time with a puppy or kitten, go to your local humane society and volunteer to play with their adoptable babies.