Speaking of Pets: Spay and neuter your companion animals, part 1 of 2 | VailDaily.com

Speaking of Pets: Spay and neuter your companion animals, part 1 of 2

By Joan Merriam
Special to the Daily
Nearly 4 million dogs end up in shelters each year, and spaying and neutering your pups can help alleviate that problem.
Special to the Daily

It’s spring: puppy and kitten season.

Actually, dogs and cats can reproduce anytime, but late spring tends to be prime birthing period. This is when you’ll see ads for free puppies or kittens, complete with photos of adorable animals. 

So, what’s wrong with this picture? Plenty.

Yes, puppies and kittens are adorable. What’s not adorable is that tens of millions end up abandoned, discarded on the streets, or dumped in cardboard boxes at overcrowded shelters. 

There’s an easy solution: spay and neuter your companion animals. 

In this column, I want to focus on dogs; next time, I’ll discuss cats.

Myths and Facts

People say altering your dog will make him fat. No, what makes your dog fat are the same things that make humans fat: too much food, and too little exercise. 

People want their children to witness the miracle of birth. What about the “miracle” of death when all those cute puppies are euthanized because there’s no more room at the shelter? 

People think they can’t afford it, but there are many low- and no-cost spay and neuter options.

Health Benefits

Spayed female dogs are less prone to developing mammary cancer, while unspayed females have much greater chance of reproductive cancer.

Neutering your male dog means he can’t get testicular cancer, and may lessen his odds of developing prostate cancer. He’ll probably also stop roaming in search of females in heat, and a dog who stays closer to home is less likely to be hit by cars or become lost.

Finally, by altering your dog, you won’t be contributing to the 4 million puppies that end up in shelters annually, and won’t be among the nearly 700,000 shelter dogs euthanized every year. They also won’t be adding to the numbers of unwanted companion animals: a fertile dog can average two litters of six to ten puppies in one year; in seven years, one unsprayed female dog and her offspring can produce over 500 puppies.

So as you’re enjoying this beautiful spring, do yourself, your dog, and your community the ultimate kindness by having your pup spayed or neutered.

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever Joey and Maine coon cat Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at joan@joanmerriam.com.

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