We continue this week to discuss the issue of pregnancy prevention, and to respond to the many queries I have received over the years on this subject. I appreciate that there is genuine concern for the wellbeing of the female or male animal that is being considered for spaying/neutering, and the pet owner wants to be assured of making the best decision for the animal and his/her family.
Allow me to state that my mentioning last week of the almost compulsory overnighting of the spayed/neutered animal in the Vet’s Clinic after the surgery was simply to illustrate the added costs the owner would need to cover in other countries. I do recognise that some owners would prefer to arrive the next day at the Vet’s Clinic to a bouncing animal, instead of having to take care of the pet (throughout the day/night) until it has fully recovered. That peace of mind comes at a cost. Of course, should there be a problem with the dog’s recovery, the best place for the dog to be is in the Vet’s Clinic. However, I maintain that it is much better for the spayed/neutered animal, or any animal which has undergone surgery under general anesthesia, to recover in the environment in which it is most comfortable, and in the presence of loved ones. In the post-surgical recovery room of the Vet’s Clinic, there are sounds (other dogs howling, hallucinating barking, whimpering, etc.) and strange smells and general bustle to which the recovering pet is not accustomed. In fact, such environments (like any hospital) are not conducive to the mental wellbeing of the recovering patient. As to the possibility of a problem emerging during the time between the actual completion of the surgery and the attainment of full consciousness, I can only say that if the surgery was performed professionally and with technical soundness, the chances of a dilemma emerging are well-nigh zero.
It would be remiss of me if I do not provide you with the mathematical progression relative to numbers of offspring which can be produced from unspayed/unneutered adult companion animals.
In dogs, an unspayed bitch, her male partner and all of their puppies will potentially increase to 67,000 animals in six years!
In cats, the numbers are more alarming; an unspayed female cat, her mate and all of their progeny, producing two litters per year, with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter, can total 11,606,077 offspring in 9 years!
I recall reading a while ago in the Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” Column in Guyana Times that two brown rats can multiply into a million in just 18 months!
There is one simple and immutable fact: A cat/dog can produce too many young ones in its lifetime for any person (however kind or willing) to look after properly, or even to find adoptive “Forever Homes” for. These unwanted animals are often neglected, cast outside the home and their own, or just consciously taken far away from the heretofore nurturing protective household and strayed. This results in lives full of unimaginable misery and suffering for the abandoned animal.
I will reiterate what I have covered thus far with a list that summarises the advantages of spaying and neutering:
* The spayed female cat or dog does not go into heat, so you will not have the noise and inconvenience of male animals trying to mate with them.
* Spayed and neutered pets are less likely to get away from home and go roaming, thus reducing the chance of them being injured in accidents, or being involved in “fights” or territorial disputes, all of which could lead to massive lacerations and deep trauma and costly surgical interventions.
* Spayed and neutered pets would not contract sexually transmitted diseases
* Spaying females reduces the risk of mammary gland tumours and ovarian and uterine cancers, especially if done before the first heat cycle.
* Neutering males eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate disease.
And again, let us recall and dispel some myths about spaying and neutering:
* Your spayed female pet will not be “unfulfilled” if it does not have a litter.
* Spaying and neutering will not break your pet’s spirit. If anything, your companion animal will become more attached to you.
* Your pet does not have to produce a first litter before it is spayed. There are no medical arguments that support the benefits of a first pregnancy and parturition before spaying. In the case of the male pet, one does not have to wait until he has had his first sexual experience before the neutering is done. The surgery can be done preferably around seven months of age.

1) There are benevolent sponsors and humane societies which support programmes associated with spaying/neutering. Degreed veterinarians perform the surgery. There is little or no cost.
2) The female cat or dog must reach the age of puberty before the surgery can be performed. The scientific literature abounds with the repercussive defects (health, anatomical) if the animal is spayed too early in life.