Today's topic is one of great debate. It's been an ongoing conversation, rife with opinions that rivals the discussions surrounding Anti Vaxxers. The topic is whether or not to neuter and spay your pet.
For those who may not be familiar with these terms, it means the removal of sexual organs in the male and female so that they can no longer reproduce. Long seen as very standard practice, there have been some recent discussions about the logic and reasoning behind why people take breeding capability away from their pets and whether the thinking behind it truly has pet's best interests in mind.
In fact, there was a recent opinion piece in The Times that said as much (yes, I read The Times and no, you shouldn't be so surprised—I'm a very well educated kitty!). In the piece, titled 'Dogs Are Not Here For Our Convenience' Alexandra Horowitz says that "Spaying and neutering puppies shouldn’t be standard policy — and it isn’t automatically the “responsible” choice either." In it, she essentially says that she believes that we have come to believe this is best for our pets because it's what we've always done but in reality, there are situations where she says it can harm more than help the pet in particular, if they are not spayed or neutered at the appropriate time in their growth cycle.
She also says she thinks it came about largely as a result to human's aversion to the 'ick factor' of thinking of our beloved pets as sexual creatures and, the side effects ; "For one thing, we value convenience, and desexing a dog is convenient for us. Menses is messy: a female dog may urinate in the house and will spread bloody vaginal discharge where she rests and walks; her heat lasts for a few weeks."
This was clearly a fascinating topic to me so I asked Dr. S. what he thought about the matter. Firstly, he said that yes, animals who are spayed or neutered before they are fully grown (particularly in larger dogs), can be problematic and result in health problems so he strongly advises against fixing before the right time. Secondly, he says he is an advocate of the procedures because of population control. Now, while Horowitz disputes whether this has the intended impact of curbing population growth, as we now have better control of overpopulation than we did in the past, Dr. S. still believes this is for the greater good. Think about all the homeless animals out there. All the animals who are thrown onto the streets when their owners can't afford them or can't take care of them. Think about all the numerous animal shelters with overflowing abundances of pets ready for loving homes. Dr. S. believes that spaying and neutering is one step towards ensuring we don't have helpless homeless pets roaming the city. Because every animal deserves a loving home and if we aren't doing anything to keep their numbers at least somewhat contained, there will inevitably be pets without homes.
Til' next time,