Spaying and neutering your animals: Responsible pet care – Part 3

Have you ever wondered why it’s so important to spay and neuter cats and dogs? Unless you frequently visit animal shelters where you can be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of homeless pets, you might find it difficult to understand why it’s important to alter your pet. A family who has been through the experience of raising a littler or puppies or kittens borne to their female dog or cat may decide not to do it again because it’s fun but also difficult, potentially expensive and messy. It’s a bit harder for the owners of male dogs and cats to see the benefits of neutering. After all, if they confine their dogs, they don’t have to worry about accidental breeding, and if their male cat spends a lot of time outdoors, he may not spray in the home and the unwanted kittens born elsewhere will never be seen.

The first thing I suggest is that you visit an animal shelter to experience first hand the problem of pet overpopulation. You may be charmed by the adorable kittens, but after visiting with them, have a careful look at the adult cats, many of whom will be euthanized because they are overlooked by families who would prefer a cute, playful little kitten. To feel the full effects of this problem, you need to visit a municipal shelter, not a no-kill shelter. No-kill shelters are a wonderful concept; they accept as many animals as they can and they commit to caring for those animals for life. However, this limits the number of pets they can serve, so their establishments are often small. try going to a city shelter that harbors all the strays that animal control officers find and are called upon to address. The number of homeless pets their will overwhelm you. When I care for these animals, I often see tomcats who are about three or four years old, and I know that each of them has probably already produced hundreds of offspring.

Now, moving on from the issue of pet overpopulation, let’s take a look at how a spay helps the female dog. Let me tell you about Fran and Joe, a twenty-something couple I met on a late-night shift in an emergency clinic. They were a charming, educated couple. Joe had owned his Labrador retriever, Amber, since he was 14 Now, unspayed and ten-years-old, she’d suddenly stopped eating. After two days of refusing her meals, she started to vomit, and Joe and his newly-wed wife brought Amber to me at 10 o’clock on a Friday night. Instead of celebrating the fact that they would soon be closing on their first house, they were

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