A very common message to pet owners is to have your pet spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, despite the efforts to spread the word and educate people about the benefits of spaying and neutering, there is still a big problem with unwanted and homeless animals in the US.

Many pet owners worry about how the procedure will effect their pet’s personality. It is a common fear that after it is completed the family pet won’t be the same as they were. It is also typical for pet owners to worry about their pets being put under anesthesia, which should be no more of a concern than it is in any other medical procedure. The benefits of spaying and neutering family pets far outweigh the risks.

“It is true that a female dog spayed late in life may put on weight,” he said. “Anesthesia is not completely risk-free, but the technology, monitoring and anesthetics are far better today than 25 years ago. Unaltered animals often develop mammary tumors, uterine infections and prostate problems. They engage in bad behavior and fight.”

Unaltered animals are at a higher risk for a number of health issues including tumors, infections, and prostate problems. These animals also typically exhibit aggression with other dogs and bad behavior. If they are altered before reaching sexual maturity, pets are not as likely to develop bad behaviors such as urine marking, spraying, barking and howling, mounting, fighting, and roaming while in heat. Minimizing these behaviors reduces dangers for your pet, and will make owning a pet a much better experience.

The ideal time for your pet to be spayed or neutered is between 6 and 10 months old. If your pet has no had the procedure before sexual maturity it is not too late. The benefits still exist for older pets, but the weight of these benefits does decrease with time.

The Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals both put emphasis on the importance of spaying and neutering because there are millions of pets in shelters all over the country. The Humane Society and ASPCA estimate that there are 3-4 million animals euthanized every year and 90 percent of those are healthy and adoptable.

It is also much cheaper to have your pet spayed or neutered than it is to pay for the potential medical bills associated with not having it done. A male dog is more likely to sustain injuries from fighting if they are unaltered. A female dog is at a much higher risk for developing reproductive cancers. Altered dogs are less likely to damage property which is expensive to fix and it is also expensive to care for litters.

The health benefits, cost benefits, and the happiness of animals and their owners everywhere far outweigh the negligible risks of having your pet spayed or neutered. Remember to do the right thing for your pets!