Fact or Fiction? Spay/Neuter Myths Busted

February 16, 2017

spay and neuter fact or fiction

Every year, millions of healthy dogs and cats in the United States are euthanized simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around. The ASPCA is working hard to combat the pet homelessness crisis, and spay/neuter operations are one of the most effective tools at our disposal. Spaying (female) and neutering (male) helps curbs animal overpopulation and has medical and behavioral benefits for pets—yet there are a number of myths, rumors and falsehoods circulating about this important procedure. In honor of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, we’re here to set the record straight.

MYTH: Spaying and neutering will cause my pets to gain weight.

FACT: Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not spaying and neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor their food intake.

MYTH: Neutering will cause behavioral changes.

FACT: Unneutered cats and dogs are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Unneutered dogs also have a tendency to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects. All of these above behaviors may change when your pet is sterilized—which is a good thing! Neutering can help avoid some aggression problems or undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone. That said, it is important to note that there are no guarantees. Neutering does not eliminate the testosterone hormone completely, nor will it negate any behaviors that your pet has learned or that have become habitual. The effects of neutering are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology and history.

MYTH: Spay/neuter operations are expensive.

FACT: The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter! Plus, the ASPCA and many other organizations offer free or low-cost spay/neuter services for pet owners.

MYTH: Spaying and neutering is unhealthy for pets.

FACT: Just the opposite! Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Spay/neuter will help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

MYTH: Neutering will make my pet feel like less of a male.

FACT: Pets do not have any concept of ego or sexual identity, and neutering won’t change that. What might change, however, is that your male dog will be less likely to roam away from home! An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways to escape from the house. Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other male animals.

Similarly, spayed female pets won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!

Spay/neuter operations will help curb these behaviors and keep your pet where he or she belongs: in your safe and loving home.