Saving Lives One Surgery at a Time: The Benefits of Spay and Neuter

Before bringing home a new pet, it is important to understand what your pet will need in order to live a healthy and happy life. One of the key considerations is whether or not to have your new pet spayed or neutered. While there are many personal reasons why pet parents may opt to forgo surgery, there is overwhelming evidence that choosing to have your pet altered is one of the best decisions that you can make for your new friend.

So, why spay or neuter your pet?

First and foremost, spaying and neutering at a young age can increase your pet’s life expectancy. We all wish that our beloved pets would live forever, but there is something that you can do to increase the chances that your pet will live a long, healthy life. Spaying and neutering eliminates the risk of ovarian and testicular cancers, and reduces the risk of mammary cancer in females. Intact females are also at risk for pyometra, or infection of the reproductive tract. Pyometra can be a life-threatening emergency, and requiring removal of the uterus and ovaries. Many pets are not diagnosed with pyometra until they are very sick, complicating recovery. An emergency spay surgery on an older pet is much more expensive and risky than a simple spay of a young, healthy dog or cat.

A longer life can be a valuable benefit to having your pet spayed or neutered.

Neutering male cats can prevent roaming, fighting, and mating, which commonly lead to injury and disease transmission. As males protect their territory, they often become combative with other males, resulting in abscesses and other injuries. The urge to roam in search of a mate can put male cats and dogs in danger of running away or being hit by a car crossing busy roads.

Of course, the tendency to spray stinky urine to mark territory is often the most compelling reason for many to have male cats fixed. If you’ve ever smelled the urine of an intact male cat, you surely understand why! Spaying female cats also prevents unwanted behaviors associated with the heat cycle, such as yowling and attention-seeking.

Intact dogs and cats are more likely to roam or run away in search of a mate, putting them in danger of being lost or hit by a car.

If you’re still on the fence about spaying and neutering despite this information, consider the consequences of keeping intact pets that can extend beyond your home. While your pet may be safe and well cared for, there are thousands of other animals that do not have a family to care for them. One pair of cats and their offspring can potentially produce thousands of kittens in only five years. It is important that we each make an effort to reduce the number of homeless pets by spaying and neutering our own.

Millions of homeless animals are euthanized annually, but spaying and neutering can prevent unwanted litters and save lives.

If you are considering bringing an unaltered pet into your home, be sure to discuss spay and neuter options with your vet ahead of time so you are prepared for the expense and brief recovery period. While there is always some risk associated with surgery, spay and neuter procedures are quite routine and generally considered safe for most young, healthy pets. You may also consider adopting a pet from your local shelter or rescue organization, since most rescues will ensure that pets are spayed or neutered and vaccinated prior to adoption. The adoption fees charged by most rescues do not even cover the costs of medical care provided to each animal, so you are both saving money and potentially saving a life by choosing to adopt.

For those in Pinellas County and surrounding areas that are in need of spay or neuter services, SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center offers a high-quality, high-volume spay and neuter program that provides efficient and affordable procedures for young, healthy cats and dogs. Our experienced spay and neuter veterinarian, Dr. Lopez, has performed over 24,000 spay and neuter procedures during his tenure with the organization! For more information, visit

Dr. Rizal Lopez, Spay and Neuter Veterinarian at SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center in St. Petersburg, FL.