February is Spay-Neuter Awareness Month

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February is Spay-Neuter Awareness Month

PAWS TO PONDER by Suzyn Barron, President of Warwick Valley Humane Society


Did you know, February is Spay-Neuter Awareness Month?


The obvious reason to spay and neuter is to not contribute to the overpopulation of pets in our communities.  But there are numerous reasons why spaying and neutering is the right thing to do for your pet, including for their long-term health and to prevent some behavioral issues.  Have you ever noticed how often an intact male dog will lift his leg to mark any where he feels the need to?  Try taking one for a walk. You will certainly notice the number of times you are forced to stop.  So it’s hardly a walk at all.  And, due to their incredible noses and natural urges, a male dog can scent a female dog in heat up to three miles away while a male cat can smell a female cat in heat up to a mile away.    It’s not their fault that they take off – it’s nature calling, and they have no control over it.   But we do, as their caregivers and protectors.  When this surgery is best performed varies among veterinarians, but until it is done, it is the owner’s responsibility to prevent “oops” breeding.  That means no intact female should ever be left unattended outside and intact males should not be allowed to wander the neighborhood.

According to an article written by Adrienne J. Farracelli for Dog Discoveries “a study has found that after neutering, roaming behavior decreased 90 percent, aggression between male dogs decreased 62 percent, urine marking decreased 50 percent and mounting decreased 80 percent”.  In other words, when testosterone levels are reduced, there is often a marked decrease in behaviors driven by hormones such as urine marking, roaming in search of a mate and competition with other male dogs.  And this goes for male cats, too.

When a female dog or cat goes into heat, different pregnancy hormones flood her body. These hormonal imbalances are to blame for the mood swings and may make her more irritable, anxious, whiney, or vocal for the cat and have aggressive tendencies. She may even have period cramp pain! She may also be begging for more attention, becoming overly affectionate with more frequent urination, excessive grooming, mounting behaviors, increased restlessness and extremely flirtatious.  All of which she has no control over.

Dogs can go into heat as early as 4 months old, but on average at six months of age with cycles every six to seven months lasting between two and four weeks.    A cat’s first heat cycle typically begins when she is around six to 10 months old, repeating every 14 to 21 days, lasting from one day to 21 days and continues well into old age.

There are also many benefits to spaying or neutering a rabbit pertaining to their health, training, and sociability.

Knowing all that a pet endures just from the reproductive aspect, if you are not a professional breeder, then choosing to reduce this stress on your pet by spaying and neutering is responsible and compassionate pet ownership.


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