Consider this: One pair of un-sterilized cats, together with their offspring, can result in 420,000 kittens in seven years. One pair of un-sterilized dogs, with their offspring, can result in 4,372 puppies in the same time frame.
Statistics also show that only one out of nine of these animals finds a good home, leaving the rest to suffer abandonment and/or euthanasia.
For years, pet owners have questioned whether to spay or neuter their pets. However, history and research show that there are many pros to having your pets spayed or neutered.
Whether pets are kept indoors or out, there are many health and behavioral benefits associated with spaying and neutering, says Dr. Lynn Ruoff, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Longtime southTempeveterinarian Dr. Thomas Gus, who operatesUniversityAnimalHospitalonsouth Hardy Drive, agrees with the advice.
“From a behavioral standpoint, it definitely reduces the roaming behaviors and territorial aggression (in both cats and dogs),” Gus said.
The obvious benefit of spaying and neutering is population control, lowering the number of stray abandoned dogs and cats in local neighborhoods and streets. And, unfortunately, with the struggling economy and other factors affecting residents, more and more dogs and cats are being turned over shelters or put to death, Gus said.
“The number of cats and dogs being put in shelters or euthanized has absolutely increased (compared to past years),” Gus said. “Oftentimes it’s near universities, where students end up moving away after graduating and leaving their pets behind.”
Gus estimates that 75 percent of dog and cat owners in the immediate area of his clinic spay or neuter their pets, not only to make them sterile but to avoid health risks as their pets grow up.
“For male dogs, (neutering) reduces the risk of prostate cancer and eliminates the risk of testicular cancer,” he said.
“In female dogs, it prevents urinary tract infections and, what’s probably the best advantage, is it eliminates breast cancer – taking it to almost zero probability if you spay before their first heat cycle, which is 6 to 12 months of age.”
Female dogs, Gus said, are three times as likely as humans to develop breast cancer.
“As far as female cats go, you save having to put innocent animals to death,” he said. “Female cats are in heat for a week every two to three weeks, so it can literally seem like they are always in heat.”
Because female cats are in heat more often than dogs, a significantly larger amount of stray cats are born per year than dogs, Gus added.
Male cats that are not neutered are often much more aggressive and can increase their territory, traveling farther away from home and becoming vulnerable to other disease-carrying, stray animals.
Male dogs are less likely to mark their territory, especially inside homes.
Gus said Maricopa County Rabies Animal Control and the Humane Society are the two main organizations to which stray dogs and cats can be reported.
Other, privately funded groups have begun local rescue projects, but Gus said the problem of unspayed, unneutered pets has continued to grow.
University Animal Hospital is at 2500 S. Hardy Drive, Tempe. Phone: 480-968-9275.