If you own a pet you will at some point be faced with the decision whether to spay or neuter. One facet of being a responsible pet owner is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The message to pet owners in North America has been to get their pet spayed or neutered. With the rise of the humane animal movement in the 1950’s it gradually became commonplace to have pets surgically sterilized. Beginning in the 1960’s animal rescue groups began instituting policies that all pets would be spayed or neutered prior to adoption. In the 1970’s juvenile kittens and puppies started regularly being spayed/neutered. The driving force behind spay/neuter campaigns has been to reduce the number of animals in shelters by preventing unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. Our intentions were well meaning, but unfortunately our actions have played a role in the development of health conditions in our pets. It’s time to take a look at the facts of this issue and explore all the options for preventing unwanted pregnancies while promoting health in our pets.
The AVMA recommends with regards to spaying/neutering “pets should be considered individually, with the understanding that for these pets, population control is a less important concern than is health of each animal.” However, it has been my experience that few veterinarians are evaluating animals as individuals when considering a spay/neuter surgery.
Ovariohysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the uterus and ovaries are removed from the body and orchietomy consists of surgically removing the testes. The sexual organs have functions that impact the whole of the animal, not just the capability to reproduce. In reviewing a multitude of studies on the subject it becomes obvious that there are numerous negative consequences observed in spayed/neutered companion animals.
Author - Jennifer Lee
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