Should You Desex Your Pets?

Compare the pros and cons of desexing to decide what’s right for your four-legged friend.

Mar 24, 2023By Donna Hobson
should you desex your pets

Our pets become a part of the family, so we want what’s best for them. However, the internet is so full of conflicting statements and misinformation that it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s right.

Discover the facts behind desexing and what it means for your companion animal. Weigh up the pros and cons, uncover the statistics, and accumulate all the information you need to make the right choice.

What Does Desexing Your Pet Mean?

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Desexing is a surgical procedure where an animal’s sexual organs are removed. For males, the neutering process involves the removal of the testicles. In comparison, female spaying removes the uterus and both ovaries. Ideally, you want to neuter your pet before they are sexually mature. Kittens can get pregnant at around four months old, and puppies at five months. Still, you don’t want to do it too early, or you may risk ligament damage.

Sometimes people avoid desexing their pets because they believe it will be expensive. Still, the ASPCA and other animal charities offer low-cost and accessible options for families who need them.

Reasons Why You Should Desex Your Pets

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Whether or not you desex your pets is entirely your own choice. Still, if you choose not to desex them, you’ll need to take responsibility for roaming behaviors and unwanted litters. Here are some reasons you should seriously consider desexing your pets.

The main reason you should get your pets desexed is to prevent the massive number of unwanted animals surrendered to shelters. In the USA alone, roughly 6.3 million animals are taken into the care of nationwide shelters yearly; just under a million sadly face euthanasia. By desexing your pets, you help decrease the number of homeless animals.

And desexing also carries several benefits for your pet, including that desexed animals have been shown to live longer and healthier lives than those who are not. One study demonstrated that neutered male dogs lived 13.8% longer and spayed females 26.3% longer.

Another study of 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats concluded that neutered male canines extended their lifespan by 18% while spayed females lived 23% longer. For cats, spayed females lived 39% longer, and neutered males increased their lifespan by a massive 62% (likely because of the reduced roaming behaviors).

This decrease in roaming behaviors minimizes the dangers your pet faces and makes them less likely to get into fights or be exposed to diseases. Also, your pets will not display unwanted behaviors during reproductive cycles, including catcalling, menstruation, or urination marking.

Other health benefits include preventing reproductive organ diseases such as ovarian tumors, testicular tumors, cystic tumors, or uterine infections.

Popular Misconceptions Around Desexing

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When deciding whether or not to desex your pet, you weigh the pros against the cons, but if those “facts” are inaccurate, it can lead to you making a misinformed decision.

A common reason people avoid neutering is that they think it’s cruel or offers little benefit to the animal in question, but this isn’t true. Neutering is a minimally invasive and fast procedure that causes very little pain to the animal. Spaying is slightly more complex and intrusive, but your animal is fully anesthetized during the surgery, so it will not feel any pain.

Your pet may feel slight discomfort for a couple of days following the procedure, but they will not feel deprived by the removal of their reproductive organs. In fact, it can help to relieve sexual tension and makes males of the species less likely to stray.

Another reason why people avoid desexing their pets is because they fear it will alter their four-legged friend’s personality. There is some truth to this, but not in the way that people believe. When you desex your pet, it will be just as loving, playful, and energetic as before. If you do notice any changes, they’re most likely to be a reduction in negative behaviors such as aggression or territory marking.

In addition, some owners don’t desex their pets because they don’t believe they can get pregnant. For example, “my dog’s in an enclosed yard,” or “my cat’s too young.” But, animals who have not been desexed will go to great lengths to find a mate, and kittens can start reproducing when they are as young as just four months.

Read the information on reputable websites and book an appointment with your vet to get the best advice for your fur baby.

Is There Any Negative Implications of Desexing Your Pet?

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Everything has advantages and disadvantages, and desexing your pet is no different. Some health and behavioral benefits associated with not having your animal fixed include the following:

  • Reduced risk of hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and transitional cell carcinoma in intact dogs.
  • Reduced risk of obesity in intact canines and felines (due to a higher metabolic rate).
  • Reduced risk of incontinence in intact female dogs.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes for intact female cats.
  • Reduced shyness or hiding behaviors in intact cats.

Still, you can combat many disadvantages with the proper care plan. For example, a desexed animal may have a decreased metabolism, but as long as you feed them a healthy diet in the right amounts, there is no reason for them to gain weight.

Unless you intend to breed your pet, there is no real reason to avoid desexing. The health and behavioral benefits far outweigh any negative repercussions, and you help to prevent unwanted pregnancies - it’s all part of being a responsible guardian. But every animal is different, and if you have any concerns, you can address them with your veterinarian before they conduct the procedure.

Donna Hobson
By Donna Hobson

Donna believes that keeping a pet is the key to a happy life. Over the years, many creatures have passed through her home - Sooty the cat, Millie the rabbit, Stuart (Little) the guinea pig, and Trixie the tortoise, alongside her pet goldfish, Zippy, who lived to the grand old age of 24 years! She currently resides with her black kitten Jinx and an aquarium full of fish and snails to entrance them both. When she is not looking after her pets, Donna enjoys researching and writing the answers to all your pet-related wonders.