Guess what, people!?! We’ve got another super spay and neuter special in June at the SPCA. But I’m guessing a lot of you out there might be wary of this one based on things you’ve heard about neutering pets early. To assuage that trepidation, read ahead. I’ve gathered all the goods on the subject.
First, the promotion is called “Precious, Not Parents” to remind us that puppies and kittens are darling little bundles of joy that don’t need to have their own little bundles while they’re still babies, if ever. We have thousands of companion pets coming into shelters in Aiken County every year. Many come in a dozen at a time in the form of wiggly, squeaking cardboard boxes.
These fur babies are so stinking cute; it is really difficult to imagine that in a few short months they will be mature enough sexually to begin having puppies or kittens of their own. Eeeeek! Babies having babies.
Thanks to a generous grant from PetSmart Charities, the SPCA will be able to stop the cycle for 66 puppies and kittens. $20 sterilization surgeries will be available in June for pediatric pets, those that are between 8 weeks and 6 months of age. Heads up: Some candidates for surgery may be turned away at our veterinarian’s discretion if they are not large enough by weight at 8 weeks of age; if you have a baby teacup something or a teeny tiny Chihuahua, let us take a look first and help you determine what is safe for your pet.
Are any of these running through your head right now?
• I heard she should have a litter before I spay her.
• I heard early neutering will stunt my dog’s growth.
• I thought she needed to go through one heat cycle before she was spayed.
• I heard that surgery will make my dog lazy.
• Someone told me my cat would get fat if I had her spayed.
According to some really fantastic research conducted by veterinarians at the University of Gainesville and funded by the Winn Feline Foundation, the only real consequences to early spay or neuter surgery are what I would consider to be positive. Early spay or neuter surgery can result in more affectionate, less aggressive pets. It can also eliminate the possibility of certain cancers of the reproductive system and extend your pets life considerably.
As I understand it, the study consisted of three groups of cats neutered at different stages in life: 7 weeks, 7 months and 12 months. The cats have been monitored for 5 years since their surgeries and are showing no real difference in health, size, weight or energy level.
A similar study was conducted with dogs and resulted in similar outcomes. The only difference I could gather was that, for some reason, when the dogs were neutered early, their growth plates remained open slightly longer, resulting in taller, longer dogs than their neutered-at-12-month counterparts, which is exactly the opposite of what most people report being worried about.
Here’s something else I found fascinating from the kitten study: The kittens sterilized at 7 weeks had a much faster recovery time than those sterilized at 12 months or even 7 months. One of the vets involved in the study noted that, although there is very little research regarding anesthetizing pets, pediatric humans have a much faster recovery time from anesthesia and surgery than human adults. There’s no reason to think it would be different in cats and dogs.
So, now that you know the facts, consider making an appointment in June to spay or neuter your puppy or kitten. Not only does sterilizing your pet ensure that he or she will not contribute to unwanted litters that end up in shelters, in many cases it keeps them from roaming the streets looking for love. Neutered pets tend to mark less and are less likely to, um, violate your favorite throw pillow.
This program is open to any resident in the CSRA that has an intact pediatric pet. All you have to do is call the SPCA at 803-648-6863 to make the appointment. Let us know you want the “Precious, Not Parent” pricing and tell us you read about the program in the Aiken Standard.
Appointments will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. When the funding is gone, we will make every effort to offer you the most affordable solution available.
Chrissey Miller, CAWA
SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare