Joe Hernandez

Joe Hernandez

So you want a puppy or a kitten but don’t know the importance of having them neutered or spayed or even what the appropriate age is. In this column, I am going to go over the benefits of neutering or spaying your pet. There are health benefits that will help extend your pet’s life as well as population control, which helps with the overcrowding that is happening statewide in shelters and rescues.

First, let’s begin with male dogs. The best age for neutering is six to nine months, but puppies can be neutered at eight weeks if they are healthy. Neutering a male dog does help make your pet a more affectionate companion and will help reduce aggressive behaviors, such as baring teeth, growling and biting.

One of the most important health benefits of neutering is that it eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer and greatly reduces the chance of prostate cancer. If you do not have your dog neutered, he has a greater risk of having testicular or prostate cancer.

Now, here are the benefits of spaying a female dog. The No. 1 benefit is no unwanted litters of puppies. It is costly to care for a litter of puppies.You have to pay for vaccinations, deworming, food, puppy formula in case one won’t nurse and any unexpected emergencies.

The second benefit is no nuisance male dogs will be in your yard. When a female is in heat, it attracts males from the surrounding areas in search of her. This can lead to dog fights or someone getting bitten if they try to intervene in the fight.

Having your female dog spayed reduces risk of illnesses. These illnesses include infection of the uterus and mammary gland cancer. Females can be spayed after eight weeks and preferably before the first heat cycle. The heat cycle can start at six to seven months of age.

Now on to the importance of neutering or spaying cats. Male cats can be neutered at five to six months old. An intact male cat will roam, but neutering will help reduce roaming. It will also help reduce fighting with other cats.

Also, the male cat will mark its territory if not neutered at an early age. They will spray a strong odor of urine onto your clothes, curtains, furniture and walls. Neutering will reduce or stop the spraying. Neutering a male cat will help prevent testicular cancer.

Here are the benefits to spaying your female cat. A female cat can have several litters of kittens in a year. If a female cat has three litters with four kittens in each litter in a year, that would be 12 kittens. These kittens could end up feral.

Spaying a cat reduces the risk of uterine infections and breast cancer.

Feral cats can be a nuisance to some people. If you have a colony of feral cats, you can trap them or call the local Trap Neuter Return program. They will trap them and have them neutered or spayed, then release the cats back in the area where they were living. This helps control the feral cat population, and it doesn’t allow production to get out of control. A feral cat population helps to control rodents and snakes.

There are several low-cost adoption programs in the area. Call any of the veterinarians for more information or the local animal rescues.

If you are looking to add a cat or dog to your family, please go to Victoria Animal Control.

I hope after reading this column, you have a better understanding of the importance of neutering or spaying your pets.

Joe Hernandez is an animal control officer with the Victoria County Public Health Department.

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