Sometimes people don’t quite know the right word for animal topics. This can make it hard for them to find the information they need, especially when they do a search on the internet using the wrong term.
Do you want to get your female dog or cat sprayed, spade or spaded? The correct word is spayed, and it’s the most important thing you can do for her. Once she is spayed, she will not come into heat and will not have babies. That means she will not have unwanted puppies or kittens, and she will not contribute to the epidemic of unwanted animals.
Female dogs and cats that are intact, which means they haven’t been fixed yet, usually come into heat at about six months of age, which is comparable to a pre-teen adolescent girl. Although her body is not ready for pregnancy, sadly, that first heat is often the time when cats and dogs become parents for the first time, and it is why it is essential to get them spayed before it happens.
Another reason to have her spayed early is that if she is fixed (another word for spayed) before her first heat, she will never have to worry about breast cancer (also known as mammary tumors). Yes – dogs and cats can get breast cancer too, but it won’t happen if she has her ovaries removed before she enters puberty.
Female dogs usually come into heat twice each year, and this is the period when they are fertile and can get pregnant. Female cats may come into heat every two months, and some come into heat even more often than that. Also, a cat can come into heat and even get pregnant while nursing a litter!
The spay operation is a complete ovario-hysterectomy, and is done under general anesthesia by a veterinarian. The dog or cat will have stitches that need to be removed about 10 days after the operation. In some situations, the veterinarian can use absorbable sutures which do not have to be removed, and these take several months to completely dissolve.
Male dogs and cats have a different operation, and it is usually called neutering (although this term is also used for spay surgery). Neutering involves a much less invasive procedure, with removal of the testicles (testes) and it is also known as castration. Male dogs only need a couple of sutures, and male cats usually don’t need any.
Some people don’t realize how important it is to fix their male animals, thinking it is only the females who get pregnant. And some men are a little squeamish about removing their animal’s manhood.
Actually, it is just as important for boy cats and dogs to be neutered as it is for the girls. While females are only fertile while they are in heat, males are always fertile and ready for mating. They can also smell a female in heat from a mile or more away, and can become very frustrated.
Tragically, about 80% of dogs and cats who are hit by cars are unneutered males following the scent of a female in heat.
As they get older, unneutered male dogs are just as likely as men to suffer from prostate cancer and other related problems. If they are fixed, that won’t happen. It’s safer to have the surgery while the animal is young and healthy, rather than waiting until he is old and disease has developed.
Once a male dog or cat is neutered, he is less likely to roam, to fight, or even to mark territory with his urine. And by the way, the smell of an intact male cat’s urine is extremely strong – once he is neutered, his urine is far less of a problem.
Neutered male dogs and cats do not turn into “sissies” but they may become less aggressive and easier to train. Dogs who are fixed are actually better protectors and are most often used for police work, because they cannot be distracted by females in heat.
By the way, for people who would like their castrated dog to look like he’s still a macho boy, you can buy him “neuticles” – artificial testicles which can be inserted into the scrotum.
So however you say it or spell it, make sure you get it done!