Home > Animal Rescue, Blog the Change for Animals, Health Care - Dogs > Blog the Change – Spay and neutering your pet: Two personal stories

Blog the Change – Spay and neutering your pet: Two personal stories


Blog the Change is a chance for bloggers to write about something they are passionate about. I am passionate about a lot of animal welfare-related issues, but this is one I haven’t written about before – spaying and neutering your pet.

I know. It’s not a sexy topic. It’s not exciting or drama-filled.It’s something everyone has heard before.

Most people have heard many of the reasons why someone should spay or neuter their pet, like …

  •  3-4 million pets die in shelters each year, we don’t need any more to die.
  • It decreases the chance that your dog will get mammary or testicular cancer
  • Less marking by your male dog
  • Zero chance that your female dog will have an “Ooops!” pregnancy
  • It’s better for your dog’s health.
  • Your male dog will likely mark less after he is neutered.

But, I’m not going to do that today. Instead, I thought I would share just two stories of my own. Both are about family pets who were impacted by our decisions not to spay or neuter. The first is about my dog, Alicia, the second about my brother’s dog, Remy.

How I nearly lost my dog

When I was 15 years old, I got my very first dog of my own. Her name was Alicia. She was a Sheltie, a puppy, and absolutely adorable. We were the very best of friends. We did everything together. We walked together. Trained together. Shared each others’ secrets. She was there with me through some of the most difficult times of my life, including the death of my father. She was everything to me.

When I had to leave to go to college, it broke my heart. I hated to leave her and my family behind. But, I knew my mom would take care of her while I was away. It was during my freshman year, probably when Alicia was 6 or 7 years old, that she got very, very sick and nearly died. She had developed something called Pyometra.

Pyometra is a bacterial infection of the uterus that mostly occurs in middle-aged or older unspayed female dogs. It can result in the accumulation of infection in the bloodstream or abdominal cavity, which can rapidly lead to systemic infection, shock, and death.

Thankfully, a vet saved her life, but I will never forget how guilty I felt knowing that I would have prevented it.  A stupid decision not to spay my dog nearly cost me her life.

Lest you think my experience is unique, another blogger shared her very own experience with Pyometra, in the last Blog the Change. It’s not something to fool around with. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Spay your dog.

Testicular cancer is a reality if you choose not to neuter

My brother’s dog, Remy, was the most awesome dog. Everyone in my family loved him. He was a Chow-Lab mix and was beautiful. He may have looked like a Chow, but he was all Lab in personality. There wasn’t anyone who didn’t love Remy. He went everywhere with my brother. He was a part of every family gather. Who doesn’t want to hang out with a giant teddy bear all of the time.

Remy was also intact. He had never been neutered. My brother always joked that he didn’t want to make him less of a man, but I suspect that he loved Remy so much he wanted to breed him so he could have another awesome dog like him.  Like Alicia, Remy had been his dog from the time he was a young man. The two were inseparable.

When Remy was around 10 years old, he developed testicular cancer (it’s the second most common type of cancer in unneutered male dogs). It could have killed him. It didn’t, but I think that was due more to luck than anything else. A vet recommended Remy be neutered in hopes that it would not spread. Like me, my brother was lucky. He had Remy for a few more years.

You could read my own personal stories and come away thinking that every dog survives. I hope you won’t. The truth is my brother and I were LUCKY. That’s it. If you choose to not spay or neuter your dog you are playing Russian roulette with your pet. You are placing a bet on your pet’s life in hopes that he/she won’t be the one who gets sick. Maybe you’re comfortable with that. I’m not. Every pet of mine will be spayed or neutered. I might have been lucky the first time around, but I’m not betting on the chance I will be again.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about spaying and neutering (e.g., it makes them fat, they are less likely to have problems if they have one litter first, it’s expensive, etc.), but they are just that, myths. I recommend checking out the links I shared below before making a decision to rely on lady luck. Please spay and neuter your pet.

Blog the Change

Pyometra http://www.snapus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Health_Benefits

Bacterial infection of the uterus (pyometra) commonly afflicts older unspayed dogs and cats. As pyometra advances, bacterial poisons enter the bloodstream, causing general illness and often kidney failure. If the uterus ruptures, the dog or cat will almost certainly die. Pyometra requires emergency spaying, which may fail to save an animal already severely weakened. The best preventative is to spay dogs and cats while they are young and healthy.

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  1. October 15, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    Really good blog, very informative! I didn’t know any of this. I thought the only decision about spaying and neutering was that if you don’t do it it’s because you want to breed your dog. If not you have it done as it’ll calm them down. That’s all I knew. Now I’ve more reasons to have it done!! There are people who want me to breed my dog, but I think we’ll keep his as one of a kind and for his own good have him neutered as soon as possible.

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 7:07 AM

      Thanks for stopping by and reading Catherine Anne. I used to think the same thing. I am glad Remy and Alicia survived our lack of knowledge so we could have them for a few years more. One of the wonderful things about having a one of a kind is that you get to focus on them and learn from them each time. Each one teaches us something different. I love that about my dogs. 🙂

  2. October 15, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    Great post. I had never heard of pyometra, until the pet of one of the blogs I follow had it. Delilah came to us via rescue and we were told she had been spayed, but she hadn’t. She is now. Besides the obvious health reasons I can’t allow myself to contribute in any way to the animal over-population in this world.

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:33 PM

      I remember reading your post on Delilah Jodi. I am so glad she never had to experience it. I believe the post you read before was the one by It’s Jet Here. Her dog, JJ, almost died from it too.

      • October 17, 2012 at 9:08 AM

        Yes, it was JJ.

  3. peggyspetplace
    October 15, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    I never knew about that disease. It’s just one more good reason to have your pet spayed. We just rescued Brooks at 11 years old and he hadn’t been neutered. I couldn’t believe it, since he’d been in shelters, etc, why they hadn’t had him neutered. The group we got him from had him neutered just before we adopted him.

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      Thanks Peggy. I think it’s one of those diseases people don’t find out about until it’s almost too late. Thankfully, it wasn’t too late ion my case, but I wonder how many others lose their dogs due to Pyometra?

  4. October 15, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Hey it’s Jet here. Hi Miss Mel.

    Thanks for posting about this subject. Yes, we almost lost our new golden girl JJ to pyometra in May. If it were not for the blogging community, 2 brown dawgs in particular, Mom would never have known there was a problem. http://heyitsjethere.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/blog-for-the-change-pyometra-another-reason-to-spay/

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      I am so glad you found out in time and that you wrote about it for the last Blog the Change. I made sure to share it. I never knew that’s what it was called until I read your post. It was only when I read the description that I knew for sure. Thank you so much for posting on this issue. So glad JJ is okay.

      • October 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM

        We are too… and we know you will help many… we must always give credit and gratitude to Miss Linda from 2 Brown Dawgs… blogging has made such an amazing difference in our lives.

  5. October 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Great post showing the personal side of the benefits of spay/neuter! Unless you show or responsibly breed, there is really no excuse to have an intact pet these days.

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:28 PM

      Agree. Sometimes a personal story can make an issue more real. I hope mine did.
      Thank you for kind comment.

  6. October 15, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    So often this issue gets pushed aside or ignored. We take it so much as common knowledge and I just assume, erroneously, that everyone automatically spays and neuters. It’s just what you do. But the overpopulation of cats proves otherwise. So many kittens are abandoned when owners don’t want to deal with them and can’t be bothered spaying their cats. Even though there aren’t dog problems in my community, I know areas in other parts of Canada and in the United States struggle with large numbers of stray dogs, all because people don’t spay and neuter. Clearly people aren’t getting the message. It can’t be shared enough.

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:27 PM

      Agree Kristine. It’s just not as sexy or as likely to induce strong emotions as so many other animal welfare issues. And yet, it’s is one of the biggest reasons we see so many stray animals and animals killed in our shelters. Thank you for stopping by to comment.

  7. rykersboyz
    October 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    It’s easy for those of us who are animal advocates to forget that many people don’t even think about spay/neuter. To us it’s a given – and we do it immediately. We forget the need to continue to educate. And it’s so desperately needed! The number of kittens we were flooded with this year at our shelter is astounding. “Kitten season” should be over with by now, but just last week I was called and asked to foster a mom and her kittens.

    We’re so sorry you learned about it in such a scary way. It’s true that not spaying puts females (cat and dog) at risk for such diseases as Alicia’s – and breast/mammary cancer too.

    Thanks for this very informative and persuasive post.

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      So agree. When you are steeped in the cause it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what you know.

      I am so sad about all the kittens. We used to see that at our shelter too.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am glad my post was worth reading.

  8. October 15, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    You and your brother were indeed very lucky. So many aren’t, and learn too late. That’s what makes this so important for you writing about it today — we need to spread awareness, ensure people truly understand. Awesome links by the way, too!

    Thanks so much, Mel, for blogging the change for animals!
    KimT
    Be the Change for Animals
    CindyLu’s Muse

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:09 PM

      Thanks Kim. We were lucky. Sometimes hearing a personal story can have an impact where facts don’t. I hope it makes a difference.
      Now I am off to read your post!

  9. October 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Such an important issue to highlight – I think that the personal stories you shared really drive home how smart spaying and neutering really is!

    A.J.
    Be the Change for Animals
    I Still Want More Puppies

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      Thanks AJ. I hope they did. It’s not a glamourous subject, but so necessary.

  10. October 15, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    I have never heard of this but I’m glad to know about it now, Mel. And I’m glad your dogs survived!

    We, of course, alter all of our pets, and our rescue’s dogs too, but it’s always good to have a rebuttal for those who don’t want us to alter a pet before we adopt them out. We’d never let that happen, but the reasons we hear as to why are often myths. In this information age, it’s amazing what still gets perpetuated.

    Thanks so much for Blogging the Change!

    Kim Clune
    Director: http://BetheChangeforAnimals.com
    Blogger: http://thisonewildlife.com

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      Thanks Kim. I so agree. So many myths out there. I am still amazed.

      I am glad they survived too. It just goes to show you that we all bring to our life experiences that we may not have wanted to have had, but serves as a way to help others understand. I am glad I was able to share it on Blog the Change.

  11. October 15, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Wow these are great stories, it really shows how important spaying and neutering really is! Education and spreading awareness like this is exactly what we need to do in order to get people to understand how it can benefit their pet and not hurt them. Thanks for your post 🙂

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      So agree Laura. Sometimes the real stories can make such a difference. I hope mine do too.

  12. October 15, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    Another fantastic and important post Mel! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with your childhood pets and I am glad that they both were ok in the end. A lot of people don’t know the health complications of not having your pet spayed or neutered. It’s so important o spread the word.

    On another note, I have both the Newfs testicles and prostates checked every time they are in at the vet with me, which is at least a half dozen times a year:)

    • Mel
      October 15, 2012 at 11:33 PM

      Thanks Jen. I really appreciate your kind words.

      I agree. I don’t think many of us think about the possible illnesses that come with not spaying or neutering our pets. We usually only think about a possible pregnancy. I am sure you have seen the ramifications of a decision not to spay or neuter.

      I kind of figured you were extra vigilant with your boys. Luckily, they have a mom in the medical profession. 🙂

  1. October 15, 2012 at 2:30 PM

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