World Animal Day - a special opportunity for everyone who cares about animals
Why educating pet owners about neutering is crucial
When people think about caring for their pet they may consider food, fun times, exercise and physical affection.
They may also think about protecting their pets’ health through vaccinations and check-ups.
But, without education, they may not fully understand the benefits of neutering their beloved companions.
According to a study undertaken by an insurance company, more than 1.7 million dogs and 600,000 cats in the UK haven’t been neutered, leading many vets to believe that neutering should be compulsory. It’s clear that there’s a problem, and that more owners need encouragement to get their pets neutered.
Common myths around neutering are that it will affect the animal psychologically, depriving them of the chance of parenthood, or that the health of the animals will suffer as a result of undergoing this simple operation. Such myths may prevent owners from neutering their pets, which makes educating pet owners about neutering crucial because there are two important benefits to neutering: not just for the pets themselves, but also for the other animals they come into contact with.
Neutering improves animal health
There is a belief amongst some owners that neutering pets will make them fat and lazy, contributing to poor health. And while it is true that neutering may make animals calmer and less likely to be aggressive, weight gain in animals is mostly down to calorie consumption and exercise, not necessarily hormone levels.
In fact, spaying or neutering animals can contribute positively to their health. Left unneutered, female cats and dogs risk developing a potentially fatal infection called pyometra, and they also have a higher possibility of getting mammary and uterine cancers. Unneutered male pets are more likely to get testicular and prostate cancers.
There is also little evidence that animals suffer psychologically from not having offspring – indeed, with the drive to reproduce removed, animals may be calmer and happier.
And of course, for owners of male pets, there are benefits to removing hormonal drivers that cause their pets to be aggressive and territorial. Neutered male pets will be less likely to sustain injuries from fighting, and cats will be less likely to roam far from home.
Educating pet owners about these benefits directly contributes to the welfare of their furry companions. But it is also crucial to educate them about the benefits to the wider animal population.
Neutering saves lives
People who love their pets tend to love all animals, but they may not be aware that by leaving their own pets unneutered they can be harming street animals. When pets are not neutered, they are highly likely to interact with street animals, fathering new litters. One cat and her kittens can lead to the birth of 370,092 cats in a seven-year period, even if only three kittens survive per litter! There are far too many homeless animals on the streets or in shelters already, and neutering is one of the key ways we can combat this animal welfare issue.
Tragically, 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter shelters in the USA are euthanised. The fewer animals in shelters there are, the easier it is to find them adoptive families and the love they deserve.
Why educate pet owners?
It’s wrong to assume that all pet owners know the benefits associated with neutering. Taking steps to educate and inform will result in improved welfare and happier, healthier animals. Something all pet owners would welcome!
Guest blog written by Hubert Day
Consultant | Researcher
Digital Content & Media
Image: Anusha Barwa (Unsplash)- April 16, 2021