February 22nd is World Spay Day, an annual campaign to encourage people to save animal lives by spaying companion pets and feral cats. In addition to reducing the pet overpopulation problem, spaying your pet provides many health benefits. Here are three reasons why it’s essential to spay your female dog or cat.
#1: Spaying your pet greatly reduces their risk of developing mammary cancer
By spaying your pet before their first heat cycle, you can significantly reduce their mammary cancer risk. Cats spayed before six months of age have a seven-times reduced cancer risk. A dog’s risk for developing a cancerous mammary tumor is 0.5% if spayed before their first heat, 8% after their first heat, and 26% after their second heat.
If a pet is spayed later in life, they can still develop mammary cancer after sterilization. In dogs, 50% of these mammary tumors are benign, and 50% are malignant. However, in cats, more than 85% of mammary tumors are malignant, and most are aggressive.
#2: Spaying your pet prevents unwanted behaviors during her heat cycle
If you’ve seen a female cat in heat, you likely understand why cat owners want to spay their pets before their first heat cycle. Excessive yowling and howling, aggressive or irritable behavior, and bloody vaginal discharge can occur during a pet’s heat cycle, but these issues can be eliminated through spaying.
#3: Spaying your pet keeps her safe from a potentially complicated pregnancy and delivery
Pregnancy and labor can be hard on a female pet, especially if they experienced an accidental pregnancy with a much larger male. Puppies can grow too large to be safely delivered naturally, and even kittens can become stuck during birth, requiring an emergency Cesarean section to save the lives of the mother and babies. After delivery, a pet can develop complications, such as hypocalcemia or uterine infection, which can be life-threatening conditions.