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Myths & Truths of Spay & Neuter

Conceptions surrounding pet spaying and neutering range wildly. Animal lovers always want the best for their furry friends, but sometimes decisions are made based on incorrect information. Let’s explore nine common myths surrounding the process and outcomes of spaying/neutering and connect these ideas to the medically proven facts.


Myth #1: Spaying or neutering will cause a change in personality or behavior.

Truth: Personality and behavioral changes which occur after spaying or neutering are largely beneficial for both the animal and the humans. Spaying a female dog eliminates their heat cycles and period complications, as well as reduces mating-related behaviors. Neutering a male dog reduces marking, roaming, and aggression. Protective instincts do not decrease with neutering.

Myth #2: Removing an animal’s desire to reproduce is cruel.

Truth: Animals reproduce by instinct, not by conscious decision. True cruelty is creating a situation where their bonded offspring become some of the millions of unwanted puppies and dogs which are euthanized each year. There is no way to control the fate of animals once ownership is transferred.

Myth #3: Spaying or neutering will take the pet’s man/womanhood away.

Truth: Awareness of manhood or womanhood is not a perception animals possess.

Myth #4: Spaying or neutering is not good for pet health.

Truth: A study conducted by Banfield Pet Hospitals on a database of 2.2 million dogs concluded that in comparison to unaltered animals, neutered dogs lived 18% longer and spayed dogs lived 23% longer. This is due to reduced cancer risk when reproductive organs are removed, as well as danger minimization when roaming decreases.

Myth #5: Surgery risks are high and procedures are expensive.

Truth: Due to the commonality of surgical sterilization, risk is very low. Veterinarians will recommend a surgical plan specially tailored to your pet's needs after a thorough examination. Expensive procedures do exist, but there are numerous free community events and “spay/neuter assistance programs that help subsidize the cost of the procedure at local clinics,” said Dr. B. Schilling, clinical instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. It is also important to consider the costs associated with not spaying or neutering, such as potential long-term medical expenses like reproductive system cancer or pyometra which can easily run thousands of dollars.

Myth #6: Weight gain and laziness follow spaying and neutering.

Truth: Neutering or spaying may diminish activity level and influence appetite, however, being careful not to overfeed, as well as instigating regular exercise is generally optimal for pets.

Myth #7: Breeding will replicate a beloved pet/ become a source of income.

Truth: Breeding animals, even purebred ones, very rarely leads to offspring which exactly mirror the parents. Even well-known breeders are fortunate if they break even raising purebred litters. Breeding costs include stud fees, vaccinations, health care, and feeding a quality food, consume most of the "profit."

Myth #8: It is important for children to witness pet birth.

Truth: Pets often birth in the middle of the night or in a secretive/inaccessible place. Further, since animals need privacy when giving birth, any unnecessary intrusion can upset the mother and may lead to injury or an unwillingness to care for the offspring.

Myth #9: Spaying and neutering are not necessary if my dog never goes around other dogs.

Truth: Even with the best intentions, pets sometimes have to be around other animals. Consider who would care for your dog in case of emergency, and if those potential caregivers are around other dogs. When planning a day out or a vacation, many daycares and boarding facilities will only accept neutered pets. Complete seclusion is rarely a realistic option.

Have you heard any other myths in opposition to pet spaying and neutering? Share them with us!


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