Why Spay or Neuter Your Pet?

By Juan J. Castro

Spaying and neutering your pets helps them to live longer and healthier lives, reduces behavioral problems, and controls overpopulation of unwanted pets.


According to the Humane Society of the United States, 10,000 human babies are born each day in the U.S, and each day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. If you do the math, there is no way to find a home for each pet. As a result, each year 4-6 million unwanted pets are euthanized.

If you think that just having one litter won’t hurt anybody, think again.

Just one intact female dog and her offspring can produce over 60,000 puppies in 6 years. And it can sound incredible, but one intact female cat and her offspring can produce over 300,000 kittens in just 7 years. Communities spend millions of dollars trying to control and eliminate unwanted pets and stray animals. Dollars which could be saved if animals were spayed and neutered.

Longer and healthier lives:

Spaying your female pet eliminates the risk of pyometra (a life-threatening infection of the uterus) and the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers. If your pet is spayed before her first heat cycle, it greatly reduces the incidence of mammary cancer.

In males, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and dramatically reduces the risk of prostate enlargement and cancer.

Fixed pets are less likely to roam, lowering the risk of their getting into fights, being hit by a car, or getting lost.

There is a myth about altered pets becoming lazy and overweight. The truth is that spayed and neutered pets do require fewer calories to maintain their body weight. So you need to control the amount and type of food they eat, and make sure they are active, and ensure they get enough exercise.


Spayed and neutered pets are generally more docile and easier to train. They also tend to show fewer of the behavioral problems associated with mating like marking, spraying, humping, and roaming.

When fixed at a young age (usually around 6 months), they are far less likely to develop dominance or aggression-related problems toward people or other animals. Spayed and neutered pets are also typically more affectionate and better companions for the family.


Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures performed under general anesthesia, and like any surgical procedure, there is some anesthetic and surgical risk. However, the incidence of complications is very low. The risk increases when pets are older, overweight, in heat, or pregnant. That’s the reason that surgery is recommended when your pet is around 6 months old. For pre and post-op care consult with your veterinarian.

You can make a difference in the health of your pet and the quality of life for animals when you choose to have your pet spayed or neutered.

Dr. Juan Castro is a veterinarian with Banfield Pet Hospital located in Falls Church, VA. You can reach him at 703-237-5610 or by email at [email protected].

For Your Information:

Information on the benefits and risks of spaying/neutering your pets.


The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers information about spaying or neutering your pet as well as information for the health and wellness of your pet.



Save the life of a homeless, abandoned, or unwanted pet. For a listing an animal rescue organizations in the DC Metro area visit:


The ASPCA works to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws, and share resources with shelters nationwide.


The Humane Society of the United States works year-round to rescue and care for animals, as advocates for animal rights, in providing shelters and adoptions services, and much more.


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world.



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