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BellaOnline's Dogs Editor

Spay and Neuter Your Dogs

Spay Day is an annual campaign of The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International to inspire people to save animal lives by spaying or neutering their pets. The 17th annual Spay Day takes place this year, on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011.

Countless unwanted dogs, both purebred and mixed breeds are neglected, abandoned or taken to over-crowded animal shelters and euthanized every day. More than four million pets are put down in U.S. shelters each year. These animals are often the offspring of cherished family pets. To stop the suffering, whether you have a purebred or a mixed breed, please have your dog spayed or neutered.

Spaying and neutering, surgical removal of the reproductive organs, not only prevents unwanted puppies and helps to alleviate the problem of pet overpopulation. Spay/neuter is the only permanent and totally effective method of birth control for dogs. It also makes dogs better pets and healthier pets. It increases their quality of life and life expectancy.

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Neutered male dogs have no chance of getting testicular cancer. Neutering reduces the risk of prostate disease and prostate cancer. Neutering curbs unwanted male behavior such as inappropriate urination to "mark their territory". Neutered males are less likely to run away, get hit by cars, or get lost. They are less likely to become aggressive and fight with other dogs.

Spayed females have no chance of getting ovarian or uterine cancer. Spaying eliminates the chance of developing Pyometra, a serious and potentially fatal infection of the uterus that's quite common in older unspayed females. It also greatly reduces their risk for breast cancer. That risk goes down to almost zero if they are spayed before they have their first heat cycle.

Spayed females do not have a heat cycle. They do not have to be confined for a few weeks, twice a year, to prevent blood stains on floors, carpets and furniture. They don't attract male dogs who spray on your shrubbery and your doors.

In spite of all the amazing benefits, many dog owners still do not have their dogs spayed and neutered. Here's a few of the most common excuses for not spaying or neutering or for putting it off until later....

  • Can't afford it -
    If you think you can't afford spay or neuter surgery, then you really can't afford to put it off. A trip to the vet for spaying or neutering will cost less than treatment for any of the many reproductive system diseases that the surgery will prevent. It costs far less than treating a dog who has been injured in dog fight or hit by a car. And... if you can't afford the one-time cost to spay or neuter, you certainly can't afford to raise a litter of puppies.

    If the cost of spay or neuter surgery at a private veterinary hospital is a financial burden, most communities have low cost spay and neuter clinics or programs that offer subsidized services with cooperating veterinarians. Call your local Humane Society, SPCA, or animal shelter to ask about reduced cost spaying and neutering. See "Where to Have Your Pet Spayed or Neutered", from the HSUS for ideas for locating low-cost surgery options, including a state-by-state list of organizations that may provide reduced spay/neuter operations in your community.

    To facilitate spay and neuter services throughout the country and end pet overpopulation, SPAY/USA has over 1,000 sterilization programs and clinics nationwide, with thousands of top-notch veterinarians in their network. Their goal is to make the surgery affordable to those who might not otherwise spay and neuter their pets. For more information, go to SPAY/USA or call 1-800-248-SPAY (1-800-248-7729).

  • Don't want the dog to gain weight -
    Dogs do not become fat simply because they are spayed and neutered. Weight gain is caused by over-feeding and lack of sufficient exercise.

  • It's risky... especially the anesthesia -
    As with any surgical procedure that involves anesthesia there is always a very slight risk involved. This is negligible compared to all the benefits of spaying and neutering.

  • Want to breed a "Purebred" and sell puppies for extra income -
    Sometimes people think they should breed a dog just because it is "purebred", but breeding dogs is not for amateurs. Breeding should be left to knowledgeable professionals in a well planned breeding program. Reputable, professional breeders have waiting lists of carefully screened potential owners. Their dogs are certified to be free of genetic diseases before they are bred. Puppies are sold with health guarantees, and trustworthy breeders will take them back if necessary. Feeding and veterinary care for the mother and a litter of puppies is expensive - even in an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. Successfully raising a litter of puppies takes a great deal of time, money and effort.

  • The dog is too young or too old -
    There is no need to wait until a female dog goes into heat the first time. Traditionally, the recommended age to spay and neuter was around 6 to 8 months, but in recent years many veterinary clinics are spaying and neutering dogs at a much earlier age... as early as 7 or 8 weeks old. Since females can sometimes go into heat when they are only 5 months old and males can reproduce as early as 6 months old, early spaying and neutering completely eliminates the chance of puppies having puppies. It also gives breeders the option of having puppies spayed and neutered before they go to new homes and it allows animals shelters to spay and neuter all dogs, even puppies, before adoption.

    Older dogs can also be spayed and neutered. Dogs of any age are given a pre-op exam and screening to rule out any potential health problems that could put them at risk.

    The bottom line is that there is really no excuse not to spay and neuter your dogs!

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