Should you have your pet neutered?
We asked veterinary doctor, Marc Langelier, of the Lac St-Louis veterinary clinic in Lachine, this very question.
Neutering is a highly sensitive subject in this province. In fact, Québec has some of the lowest sterilization rates for small animals in Canada. It must be said that an unneutered cat left to roam and indiscriminately reproduce significantly increases the number of stray cats… and this of course, becomes exponential. Stray animals—especially cats—find themselves in a shelter where most, unfortunately, are euthanized. Apart from the obvious benefit of being a responsible “parent”, having your cat or dog neutered has several advantages as well.
“With cats, says Dr. Langelier, the biggest problem is behaviour. The female starts meowing loudly and won’t stop all night. The male, especially if it’s an apartment cat, will start urinating in different spots. And this urination has a very strong, persistent smell, which invades the entire home.” This unpleasant behaviour is usually enough to convince most cat owners to neuter their pets. Furthermore, while a female cat only yowls like this when in heat, the disagreeable odour left behind by an unneutered male cat is permanent.
Avoiding this type of behaviour is obviously a great argument for neutering your cat, but reducing the amount of stray cats running wild in the neighbourhood is another. Every year, thousands of abandoned cats live in precarious conditions. They can also spread infectious and sexually transmitted diseases.
And your dog?
We don’t encounter stray dogs as much as cats in urban areas like Montréal. So, the decision to neuter a pet dog is usually based on other reasons. “Many dogs can, indeed, lead relatively normal lives without any behavioural problems, even if they’re not neutered, says Dr. Langelier. The main problem is when a female dog is in heat. Vaginal bleeding during a roughly two-week period comes along with that, and it is certainly not very pleasant for the pet owner. The bleeding is also much more heavy, and therefore more noticeable, in bigger dogs, while in smaller breeds, the dog’s self grooming usually takes care of the lighter flow.” Males have gonads, which promotes frequent urination to mark territory. They will also be less obedient since they are always looking for a mate.
In addition to the obvious benefits for owners, neutering has other health benefits for your pet. In females, spaying reduces the risk of mammary tumours, which are based on hormone levels (just like in human women). Neutering also reduces uterus infections, a condition that is particularly risky for older unsterilised females.
When should you neuter your pet? “We usually recommend neutering quite early… at around six months old on average.” Spaying females before their first heat will reduce their eventual risk of a mammary tumour to almost zero. In males, neutering prevents prostate cancer.
The procedure will be preceded by an examination in order for the vet to be sure that it will be practiced safely on your cat or dog.