Newberry Observer

National Spay/Neuter Month

“Oh look, aren’t they cute?” The neighbor’s dog has just had five puppies and they are adorable. The only problem is they don’t have the money to care for (feed, house, doctor bills) these precious animals. They will most likely wind up at an animal shelter, if they cannot find homes for them, and hope and pray they all get adopted.

Overcrowded shelters are common place because people either refuse or don’t care about preventing unwanted puppies and kittens. By spaying or neutering your pet, you will help control the pet homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized (destroyed) in the U.S. each year because there aren’t enough homes to go around.

There are medical benefits to spaying or neutering your pets.

According to the ASPCA, your female companion will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.

Neutering your male pet prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

In addition, there are behavioral benefits in spaying or neutering pets.

An unspayed female cat can go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. To advertise for mates, female cats will yowl and urinate more frequently, sometimes all over the house.

A male dog that has not been neutered will find any way possible to escape to roam, risking injury by cars or trucks (even death) and possible fights with other male dogs. I personally have my own dog to prove this matter and found him climbing a 6ft chain-link fence to get out and “explore.” This was a very dangerous situation, but luckily I had some very understanding and animal-loving neighbors who would call me and say they were “caring” for my “Buddy,” until I got home. Yes, he was a rescue and I immediately had him neutered. His clown-like, happy to lucky personality was still intact after surgery and he is home safe and sound with his step-sister Misty.

Many people think spaying and neutering will “change” the animal, but this is not true. They are still your precious, loving fur babies, less aggressive and less likely to stray from home, and so much more healthier for it.

Another misconception is that your spay/neutered pet will become overweight. This only happens if there is a lack of activity. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and a healthy diet.

Walking with your dog and having him/her interact with other dogs is a good way to provide exercise and just plain fun. Your local veterinarian may suggest certain dog/cat foods to counteract any weight problems.

Age: Spaying or Neutering your Dog at an early age is recommended. Six to nine months is usual, but some pups as young as eight weeks can be neutered as long as they are healthy. Older dogs can be neutered, but must be monitored for any possible complications.

According to ASPCA, kittens as young as eight weeks can be spayed or neutered, especially if cared for in an Animal Shelter. This makes adoption very attractive to potential pet owners, knowing the animal is already taken care of. It is advisable to schedule surgery before your cat reaches five months old, as some cats can become pregnant at that young age. It is possible to spay a female cat while she is in heat, but talk to your veterinarian to determine the best time.

After surgery, here are some tips for a safe and comfortable recovery:

– Provide your pet with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other animals.

– Prevent your pet from running and jumping for up to two weeks following surgery, or as long as your veterinarian recommends.

– Prevent your pet from licking the incision site, which may cause infection, by distracting your pet with treats or by using a medical “collar.”

– Avoid bathing your pet for at least ten days after surgery.

– Check the incision site daily to confirm proper healing.

If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge at the surgery site, or if the incision is open, please contact your veterinarian.

Having a warm, fuzzy companion to come home to is a true blessing and it benefits both the human and the animal. Exercise, love, attention and overall companionship are the most rewarding advantages to being a pet parent. If you are interested in animal welfare, please join us the second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at The Chapel, Springfield Place, Newberry: 803-413-5206

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Lorraine Bradley

Contributing Columnist

Lorraine Bradley is an active member of Newberry County Humane Society.