A problem you can fix: Information on spaying or neutering your pet
Too many cats and dogs and not enough homes! Abandoned or left outside to roam, cats and dogs reproduce. Without enough homes to care for them all, these animals face a bleak existence. Three-quarters of all kittens born outside die before the end of the first year of life, succumbing to frostbite, mites, being hit by car or eaten by wildlife.
You can help:
Have your own pet spayed or neutered.
Encourage friends, family and neighbours to have their animals spayed and neutered.
Sponsor the spaying or neutering of a shelter animal with a donation. At BC SPCA shelters all cats, dogs and rabbits are spayed or neutered prior to adoption at a cost of over $2 million a year.
Volunteer to do adoption follow-up at your local BC SPCA shelter to ensure people who have adopted animals have complied with the spay/neuter requirement in their adoption agreement.
What is being done in British Columbia to deal with this problem?
The official goal of the BC SPCA is to reach zero euthanasia of adoptable animals - and we are making real progress. See our Pet Overpopulation campaign page for more information.
"Spaying" and "neutering" are surgical procedures performed by a veterinarian to prevent pets from reproducing. In a female animal, "spaying" consists of removing the uterus and ovaries. The technical term is ovario-hysterectomy. For a male animal, "neutering" involves the removal of the testicles; this is known as castration. "Sterilization," "fixing" and "altering" are also common terms for neuter and spay.
About the surgery
As the surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic, it is painless. The operation for both males and females is straightforward and low risk. Recovery is usually uneventful. The worst your pet might experience is some discomfort for a short time after the operation while healing occurs. This can be alleviated by asking your veterinarian to provide your pet with post-operative analgesic (pain relief) after surgery.
When should it be done?
Most unintentional litters (particularly with cats) occur because guardians waited too long to have the surgery done. The usual recommendation is before six months of age for cats, and before six and a half months for dogs. Your veterinarian should be consulted to determine the best time for your pet.
The BC SPCA supports, in principle, early age spay/neuter procedures for dogs and cats. Pediatric neutering prevents excess litters by ensuring animals are neutered before adoption, thereby combating further overpopulation and excessive euthanasia of unwanted animals. The Society will continue to promote other methods of combating pet overpopulation, including education and public awareness campaigns, non-surgical methods of sterilization, traditional spay/neuter initiatives and behaviour training.
The BC SPCA believes pediatric neutering to be appropriate with the following qualifications:
The procedure takes place between 8 and 16 weeks of age.
The animal is judged to be clinically normal and healthy prior to surgery.
Proper surgical protocols specific to these young animals are employed.
Post-neuter complications receive special attention.
Some guardians ask whether a female pet should be allowed to have one litter first. However, allowing a female dog or cat to produce a litter does not have any appreciable benefits for the temperament of the animal. Plus, there are health risks to the mother during the pregnancy and when giving birth.
Will my pet become fat and lazy once he or she is sterilized?
No. Your pet will actually benefit from spaying or neutering because he or she will lead a healthier and longer life. Pets become fat and lazy as a result of overeating and a lack of exercise, not from spaying or neutering. Furthermore, spaying a female eliminates the possibility of her developing uterine and/or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the chance of breast cancer. Neutering a male reduces the incidence of prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.
Will it change my pet's personality?
A little, but in a positive way. Generally a pet's behaviour is calmer and more stable. For intact male dogs, who are involved in the most serious dog attacks, you will likely experience a decrease in aggressive behaviour.
What is it going to cost to spay/neuter my pet?
The cost of spaying or neutering your pet depends on many factors. For example, a large dog will cost more than a small dog; if your pet is overweight or in heat this can also add to the cost. Contact your veterinarian to get a more accurate idea of the costs involved for your pet.
The cost of spaying/neutering is really quite small when compared to other costs of pet care - for example, to what you will spend on food for your pet over his or her lifetime. Also consider the possible costs if you do not spay or neuter. If your pet should wander off in search of a mate, you may be faced with paying fines and impoundment fees. You may also be faced with the additional costs of caring for puppies or kittens for whom finding homes may be difficult. Worse yet, think of the costs should your pet be injured while roaming for a mate. Spaying or neutering is a one-time investment with life-long health and welfare benefits for your companion.
If you require financial assistance, please check with your local BC SPCA branch about low-cost spay/neuter programs in your community.
Does having my pet spayed/neutered make me a responsible pet guardian?
Having your pet spayed or neutered is one important part of being a responsible pet guardian. Being responsible also means providing your pet with a warm, safe and loving environment, food and water, exercise and proper veterinary care. You should also obey the leash, "poop and scoop" and licensing laws in your community.
Spayed or neutered rabbits are calmer and more affectionate, and generally have fewer health issues. All BC SPCA rabbits are spayed or neutered prior to adoption because of the tremendous pet rabbit overpopulation problem.