What is World Spay Day?

World Spay Day is this week, and we’re teaming up with other animal charities around the UK to promote the benefits of neutering your pets! Here we provide some more information about spaying, break down some of the myths around it, and give you the information you need in order to make the best decision for your furry friend’s health.

What is World Spay Day?

This international awareness day advocates for spaying, or neutering, as “as a proven means of saving the lives of companion animals”.

It first started in 1995, as an annual event created by the Doris Day Animal League, and is now celebrated in over 74 countries. This global recognition has led to around 94% of cats in Canada being spayed[1]; Belgium passing a law requiring all cats to be spayed[2]; and 32 US states requiring sterilisation for all adopted dogs - which has directly reduced euthanasia in shelters[3].

What is spaying?

Also known as neutering or “fixing”, spaying is an operation where male pets are castrated (their testicles removed) and female pets are spayed (their uterus and ovaries are removed). It’s recommended that animals are spayed as soon as they reach sexual maturity - cats can be neutered from four months of age, and most dogs can be neutered from around six months.

Spaying is the most effective way of controlling animal populations, which can be a real issue as dogs breed at a rate 15 times higher than humans, and cats 45 times[4]. Without being spayed, a female dog and her offspring can produce around 67,000 puppies[5] in only 6 years!

This number of animals can put huge pressure on animal charities, especially as recent research has shown that 70% of cat litters in the UK are unplanned[6]. Pregnant cats and unplanned kittens are often given to rehoming centres, who are already struggling as there currently aren’t enough homes available for the quantity they receive.

Why should you spay your pet?

As if the good of the general animal population isn’t enough of a motivation, there are also plenty of other reasons why you should consider spaying your pet. This quick and easy operation can be the best way to avoid a whole host of issues, such as:

● Hormone influenced behaviours such as roaming, urine marking, sexual behaviour (mounting) and the mess and hassle of having a bitch in season

● A number of cancers, including breast, womb, ovarian and testicular

● Other diseases such as pyometra (a potentially life-threatening infection of the womb), prostate disease and feline AIDS (commonly spread through fighting and bites)

Mating with siblings - brothers, sisters and parents will often produce offspring if they live together unneutered, which leads to an increased risk of birth defects and deformities

The risk of your pet being stolen for breeding

Studies have also proved that the average lifespan of spayed and neutered cats and dogs can be up to two years longer than those not spayed[8]. This can be due to the diminished risk of disease, and the reduced urge to roam, which can expose pets to fights with other animals, trauma from vehicle strikes and other accidents.

Generally, neutering is recommended for the majority of pets. There may be some cases where it’s not a suitable option, but we’d recommend discussing this with your vet to get the best advice.

Spaying myths dispelled

● “Neutering is expensive” - not true! The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens

“If I neuter my pet, they’ll gain weight” - not true! Overfeeding and under-exercising are the main causes of obesity in pets. If this is a concern for you, please speak to your vet - there are lots of things you can do to help.

“Neutering is a risky and painful operation” - not true! Neutering is usually a quick, straightforward operation carried out under anaesthetic by vets on a daily basis. While any operation carries some risks, in general it’s very safe and recovery tends to be quick.

“It’s not natural to neuter” - not (strictly) true! Our pets are not wild animals, and we have the responsibility of caring for them in the best way we know how. Neutering is widely accepted by the veterinary community and with the appropriate consideration and care, the benefits outweigh the possible risks.

Spaying in the Covid-19 crisis

Although the current circumstances have put a lot of strain on veterinary practices, as they adapt to new ways of working while prioritising emergency appointments, this doesn’t mean that neutering your pet isn’t important, so check with your vet for availability and make an appointment in advance if you can.

Now you’re all clued up and able to make the best decision for your pet! If you are still unsure, ask yourself this: if you knew that there was one thing you could do for your pet which was likely to simultaneously reduce the risk of disease, improve behaviour, and increase their life expectancy - wouldn’t you do it?

If you’d like more information about our Rosewell Clinic, including what financial support is available, please click here!

[1] https://globalnews.ca/news/3936154/canada-cat-overpopulation-report/ [2] https://iheartcats.com/belgium-becomes-first-country-to-require-most-cats-to-be-spayed-or-neutered/ [3] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animals-and-us/201805/the-puzzling-geography-animal-shelter-dog-euthanasia [4] https://animalshelterandcarecommittee.org/why-spay-and-neuter-pets/ [5] https://petpedia.co/spay-and-neuter-statistics/ [6] https://www.cats.org.uk/support-us/events/worldspayday [8] https://news.uga.edu/uga-research-finds-sterilized-dogs-live-longer/

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