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Posts Tagged ‘spay and neuter’

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

October 14, 2012 28 comments

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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Petsmart Study on Pet Owners and Pets – We have some work to do

August 22, 2012 15 comments

Back in May, I shared a study released by Banfield on the state of our pets’ health. It was quite an eye-opener when it came to pet health trends (pet obesity being the most concerning of all). But there is another study I found just as interesting and even more concerning from the perspective of animal welfare. I read it a year ago, but for some reason forgot to share it. It’s still worth sharing now.

The study, conducted by Petsmart back in 2009, focused on pet adoption and the spaying and neutering of pets.

Among the objectives of the study were:

  • Measure awareness of pet adoption and spay/neuter problems in the U.S.
  • Gauge whether perceptions of and attitudes toward pet adoption and spay/neutering problems differ by geographic region in the U.S.
  • Identify the drivers for using pet adoption and spay/neuter services
  • Determine the barriers to pet adoption and spay/neuter services

What I found the most surprising (and yes, shocking) was the lack of knowledge and understanding people (especially people in the 18-34 year old category) have about the pet overpopulation problem, and how much it is impacted by choosing to spay or neuter a pet. Granted, this study was done in 2009, so maybe attitudes have changed since then, but I suspect they haven’t changed all that much.. Social media certainly has helped to educate people on the pet overpopulation problem, but there is clearly so much more work to be done.

I encourage you to read the full report yourself, but here are just some of the statistics I found interesting:

Pet Overpopulation

  • 62% of 18-34 year olds and 47% of people over 55 thought the number of pets euthanized each year was under 1 million. (Estimates place euthanization rates somewhere between 4-5 million a year.)

Acquiring a pet

  • Between 10 and 20 percent of dog/cat owners have had a litter (53% of dog owners and 54% of cat owners said it “was an accident.”)
  • The largest percentage of people got their pet from a family member (25%) or an adoption organization or animal shelter (24%).
  • For those that acquired their pet from a breeder/local pet store, the primary driver was they wanted a specific breed/purebred.

Spaying/Neutering a Pet

  • More than 1 in 3 recently acquired dog/cat owners have not spayed or neutered their pet.  (Younger adults and those living in the South were least likely to have their pet spayed/neutered.)
  • Many owners are confused about “when” to spay or neuter their pet, with men having the most misconceptions about when is a good time to spay or neuter.
  • Among the top reasons given for not spaying or neutering a pet were – young age of the pet, cost and time, “Haven’t gotten around to it”and “Did not feel it was necessary…”

Pet Adoption

  • Those who chose not to adopt listed these top 5 reasons – did not have the type dog or cat they were looking for (17%), wanted a purebreed (13%), don’t know what you’ll get with shelter animal (12%), don’t know much about pet adoption (10%) and adoption process is too difficult (10%).
  • “Saving an animal’s life” is the key motivation for pet adoption.
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