I always thought that affordable spay and neuter options were out of reach. In general, I thought anything that had “surgery” attached to it was expensive. To be honest, I had no idea about real pet health when I was younger. I loved animals. I knew they needed food, shelter, and water. But, shots, surgeries.. I didn’t know a thing about any of that.
My grandparents raised me. So, I was a little (ok, a LOT) spoiled. I had many pets during my stay with them. I don’t know if they were spayed or neutered. I doubt they were. Considering at one time we had 14 backyard, feral cats. Yes, crazy. I know. Our neighborhood was overran with stray cats. My pet health knowledge didn’t blossom until my first pet industry gig.
Fresh out of high school I accepted a gig at a big box pet supply retail store. I was hired as a cashier. The managers educated me on products. But, I was educated more on products like dog food, toys, clothing, training aids, etc. I wasn’t aware of any of the health products they sold. I knew where they were in the store. That was about it. I still pat myself on the back. I never recommended pet health products to customers. Because, I didn’t know anything about them. No false advertising here!
After I worked at the pet store, I worked at a local cat rescue. This place housed over 300 cats! Of course, she had a ton of dedicated workers. The year I spent there I had the pleasure of working side by side with a local veterinarian. This veterinarian is now in his late 80’s. He’s still practicing here locally. He still has a huge following. I’m sure he doesn’t remember me. But, he had a huge impact on my life. He peaked my interest in the pet care industry. Making it my passion.
I also had the pleasure of working side by side two local veterinarians. I worked with them for five years. There was so much I learned in that little veterinarian clinic! I discovered things I felt like an idiot for not being aware of before! There is one case that lays heavily on my heart. A case that began my advocacy for spaying and neutering.
At the vet clinic we had thousands of clients. But, one of our clients, I will forever remember. He was an elderly man. He lived out in the country and didn’t have a lot of money. He was actually a rare client for this clinic. Because of where the clinic was located, most of the clients were wealthy.
Sometimes he would come off as kind of “gruff.” He just had that rough appearance. Dirty clothes, beard, and unwashed hair. His voice was raspy. Sometimes you couldn’t understand what he was saying. But, if you gave him the time of day, you’d soon realize he was far from “gruff.” Under his rough exterior, was a kind, patient man. But, that’s not all he was. He was a man who loved his dog!
He owned a 65 pound Boxer. The Boxer was a lot like the man. When he entered the clinic, anyone with a small dog would scoop it off the floor. Not a slow scoop, either. Fast as lightening! The Boxer looked rough and tough. In reality though, his exterior was far from his true personality. He was the sweetest dog. Very easy to work on. Also very polite and far from pushy. An ideal vet clinic patient.
The elderly man decided not to ever neuter his Boxer. We never criticized owners for their opinion on spaying and neutering. But, we always educated them on the importance of it.
When the Boxer was 10 years old, he presented at the vet clinic with an enlarged testicle area. The vet completed an exam, bloodwork, and sent off a biopsy. The biopsy confirmed our worst fears. The Boxer had developed cancer. But, unfortunately, Cancer is considered the #1 killer for the Boxer breed.
The cancer was advanced already. But, the best treatment option for him now was to have him neutered. His owner agreed to the procedure then. By having the Boxer neutered his life was expanded a few months. But, because of how the cancer had already spread, his time here with us was short.
Animal shelters, rescues, and foster homes are becoming fuller by the day. Many breeds are surrendered every day. According to The Humane Society of America website about 2.4 million cats and dogs that are healthy and adoptable are put down in shelters across the U.S. every year. That’s about one every 13 seconds!
The infographic below (credit: VetDepot) gives you a better look at pet overpopulation.
image credit: VetDepot
Besides helping with pet overpopulation, there are other benefits to spaying and neutering your pet.
Spay + Neuter Benefits
Spay Benefits (Female)
- Pyometra Prevention: Pyometra is a painful infection of the uterus. It can also be deadly if left untreated. The best way to prevent pyometra is by spaying.
- Reproductive Cancer Prevention: Female dogs who are not spayed have a higher chance of developing certain reproductive cancers. These cancers include ovarian, uterine, and mammary.
- Decrease In Pet Overpopulation: If you read the infographic above, you know that pet overpopulation is a serious issue. By spaying your female you help ensure that there is one less litter that may end up at a shelter.
- Ends Heat Cycles: When you spay your female pet, then you end her heat cycles. This helps ensure that you don’t receive any frisky, unwanted male dog visitors. A male dog can smell a female dog that is in heat from miles away.
Neuter Benefits (Male):
- Lessen The Chance of Unwanted Roaming: Unneutered male dogs are more likely to roam. A male dog can smell a female dog in heat from miles away. So, if there is a female dog in heat, an unneutered male dog wants to find her.
- Less Urine Marking + Territorial Behavior: A male dog who has not been neutered will frequently urine mark more. Unneutered dogs are also usually display less than acceptable territorial behavior. While neutering may not always fix this problem, on most occasions it does at least help. If you do have a neutered male dog who begins urine marking or territorial behavior out of the blue, you would want to consult a veterinarian. This may mean there is an underlying condition.
- Lessen The Chance of Prostate Conditions: If you read my Boxer story above, you know that prostate problems in unneutered dogs can lead to many problems. When you neuter a male dog, you lessen the chance of them encountering these prostate conditions.
- Cancer Prevention: There’s that big scary “c” word again. Yep, cancer. Testicular cancer is possible in unneutered male dogs. By neutering a male dog, you eliminate the chance they develop testicular cancer.
Don’t let the thought of surgery scare you from spaying and neutering your pet scare you. Spaying and neutering are both simple surgeries. It is recommended that any senior dog (7+ years) gong under anesthesia should receive a completeblood panel prior. This ensures that all their organs are functioning properly. It also ensures that the pet is healthy enough for surgery. Senior pets aren’t the only pets who can receive bloodwork prior to a surgery. Younger pets can have the bloodwork ran as well to make sure of the same thing. Often your pet can go home the same day. With restricted activity limits, of course.
Don’t let the price scare you away either. Prices for the surgery will vary from place to place. But, many areas offer financial assistance, or free, spay and neuter programs. So, there you have it. There ARE affordable spay and neuter options.
Below are a list of programs that will help you with discounts on spaying and neutering. Some may be able to offer you spaying and neutering at no cost.
Affordable Spay and Neuter Options
League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS)
Delaware Office of Animal Welfare
District of Columbia