In class we were talking about cost benefit analysis when reading scientific articles, and it made me think of my dog Bleu. He just turned 1, and when we went to the vet for his yearly check up, she recommended that I neuter him. I began to do research because I love him a lot and I wanted to make the very best decision for him. It made sense that I do some cost benefit analysis in this situation. Obviously, there are those who believe in neutering a dog and those who don’t.
- Heath Benefits: For a female dog, (by the way, it’s called “spaying” rather than “neutering” when it’s a female dog) spaying can prevent cancer in the uterus and breasts. Neutering can help prevent prostate and testicular cancer in males. The risk of cancer varies between breeds, however, this procedure can significantly lower the chance for any dog if done early enough.
- Behavioral Benefits: If a female dog is unspayed, she will eventually start going into heat. During this time period she’s more likely to behave poorly, and it can also get pretty messy in your house. I have a dog Daisy back home (who is the mother to my dog Bleu), who isn’t spayed and we constantly have to be on the lookout for when she’ll go into heat next. A male dog will begin to mature around twelve months. This brings around his desire to mark (pee on) everything and roam in order to assert dominance and find a female to mate with. If neutered early on, he will not have the opportunity to develop these unsavory habits.
- Cost Benefits: Yes, it costs a decent amount to spay/neuter your dog (up to 300$ according to this website). However, having a litter of puppies costs way more! I know this from experience, by the way. Not only does it cost a lot more money to care for and send a litter of puppies to the vet, it also is incredibly time consuming. Yes, you can sell the puppies and make back some of (or all of) that money, but it truly is hard (and sometimes disgusting) work.
Most of the cons to spay/neuter came from friends and people who are STRONGLY against it. However, there were only two or three reasons from reputable websites such as this one.
- Sterilization: Obviously. If you want your dog to make dog babies, spay/neuter is not for you.
- Weight Gain: Some vets and dog behavioralists believe that there will be an occasional dog who gains weight as a result of the surgery.
- Cosmetics: This more applies to male dogs. Neutering is removing the testicles of the dog. However, if that truly is an issue you can actually get prosthetic balls made. For your dog.
Most of the people I’ve had conversations with believe that neutering is unnatural and is taking away the manhood of the dog for no reason. A lot of people think that if you neuter a dog, he will become more submissive and have a negative personality change. So far, I haven’t heard or read from any professional that that’s the case. I’ve also heard from people that I should keep in mind the “agenda” of vets and places like the ASPCA. By that, I’m sure they mean the fact that these individuals/organizations are working hard to reduce the population of dogs (and cats). In my opinion, vets and the ASPCA have the best interest of the animals at heart, and are correct in wanting to reduce the population of animals. The more strays there are, the more strays have to be put down in shelters, and are denied good homes. 🙁
The one thing that I was nervous about was the fact that this is a major procedure (despite what some people may think). The animal has to go under anesthesia for about half an hour. Obviously, any procedure like this has risks, and there can always be complications during recovery as well. However, I had extensive conversations with my vet, who assured me that they take every precaution possible in order to keep your pet safe under the knife.
The website from the ASPCA also went into some myth-busting about common misconceptions surrounding neutering. They argue that spay/neuter is not the cause of weight gain in dogs. Rather, the burden falls on the owner to provide proper exercise and not to overfeed their pet. They also discuss how neutering/spaying is not a sure-fire way to get rid of (or cause) changes in behavior. Hormones are a complicated thing, and the older your dog gets the more likely they are to keep learned behaviors, even post-surgery.