To Spay or Not to Spay…Spay please!

Spaying Has It’s Benefits (more than just keeping pets out of shelters)


So you love your cat or dog?  You paid a lot of money for that purebred too right?  And you want to have them or a part of them around forever?   Oh, and you have kids of your own?  Great, let’s get to work breeding your pet so that you can get some money back from selling puppies, have a new puppy from your dog, and let your kids see new kittens or puppies being born!

3 day old kittens that adopted my dad

3 day old kittens that adopted my dad


Alright, now forget everything you just read and prepare for the truth.  Those are all the excuses I often hear when discussing spaying and neutering pets.  Many pet owners will commit to “fixing” one of their pets but not both.  The usual factors are cost, machismo, or just not being fully aware of the risks.  For now, we’re just going to focus on the girls, with particular attention to the health aspect…we’ll get to the boys later.  Even though your dog or cat may be an “only” dog or always indoors, there are still more reasons to have her spayed than to leave her intact.  There is currently a pet over-population crisis where hundreds of thousands of animals wait in shelters for someone to take them home, or in too many cases, they are euthanized.  Aside from saving lives by spaying your animals, there are many other splendid reasons to do this kind gesture for your pets.


So, you think people are the only ones who get breast cancer?  Guess again.  Intact dogs and cats are also prone to mammary cancer.  While in dogs it has a 50-50 chance of being malignant, in cats there is a 90% chance of malignancy.  Aside from malignancy, these tumors can burst open causing pain and infection.  If they are spayed before their first heat cycle, these cats & dogs have a significantly reduced chance of developing these tumors.  A spay surgery, properly called an ovariohysterectomy, removes the entire uterus and ovaries.  This also eliminates the chance of ovarian cysts or cancers as well.


Now imagine a large abscess developing inside your furry loved one’s belly.  When it involves the uterus, we get to use the icky word “pyometra.”  If your pet is draining from its’ vulvar area, this is better than no drainage but still not a

A pus filled uterus I removed

A pus filled uterus I removed

good thing.  If the uterus is not draining, your cat or dog will get sick quicker as the bacteria invades the bloodstream and in the worst cases, the uterus can pop like a balloon.  These patients often present to the veterinarian for vomiting, lethargy, a decreased appetite, or increased drinking & urination.  Ultimately, the best way to fix this is surgery which is riskier and also more costly than a routine spay.


My dad called me the other night.  A stray cat had followed him home and she looked pregnant.  A few days later, he called me back saying “There’s some blood coming out of the back end.”  A minute later, “There’s a large bubble coming out now!”  “Congrats! It’s a girl!,” I jokingly told him.  Fortunately, she delivered all 6 kittens that night without the need for a c-section.  Yep, you heard me; people aren’t the only ones who need c-sections!  And wouldn’t you know it; these things always happen at 3am on a Sunday morning.  Then don’t forget dewormings and first vaccinations after they’re born.  These things all do cost money so that should be taken into account before considering breeding your pet.

Bottle feeding at 2am

Bottle feeding at 2am

Kittens & puppies can be a lot of work, and much like a newborn child, can include nights of little to no sleep.  Then comes finding homes because face it, 2-3 cats can be difficult to manage, but 7-9 is even more a difficult.  With all of the stories you may hear of pet over-population and shelters that do not follow a “no-kill” policy, it just makes sense to do this simple act to help our domesticated animals.  Below you will see a cat who had a pyometra and her family could not afford to treat her and they were left with the unfortunate choice of euthanasia.  Luckily for this young girl, were were able to find a foster home for her but she is a rare case as most of these patients do not get a second chance.  I hope I’ve laid out the facts enough so that informed and well thought out decisions can be made for the health of your pets as well as any that may follow you home.  UPDATE: Check out my revised spay/neuter position.  Please sound off in the comments if you have anything to add or if I’ve forgotten something!  Thanks again for reading, share if you like, and be sure to check back often for more posts!

Post-op pyometra recovering before going to her foster home tomorrow!

Post-op pyometra recovering before going to her foster home tomorrow!

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

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  1. People who love their pets will get them spayed or neutered. As for getting pure bred pets – there are plenty of THEM in shelters, too. Adopt, don’t Shop is good advice for everybody. If people want their kids to witness “the miracle of birth” they can rent a National Geographic DVD and watch zoo animals. Heck, they can log on to Panda Cam (or other animal cam) at most big zoos and keep watch with the zoo keepers for imminent birthings – and it’s really interesting and you get the bonus of watching / checking in daily for a long time as the babies grow. I don’t understand why most people, (who are not registered breeders as a business), resist spaying and neutering. It’s the kindest cut of all when you think about it!

  2. I feel sorry for those who want their kids to witness the “miracle of birth.” Death is also a miracle, the body slowly shuts down (usually quietly), and the living is then gone. I suggest those same parents take their kids to the local shelter when tough decisions have to be made. There is absolutely, positively no good reason for a pet to remain intact.

    • Dr. Ryan Llera

      June 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you for your comments JJ. I agree that people don’t often look at the other side of things. It’s unfortunate that a lot of these same people are the ones who think I spend my day snuggling puppies & kittens. More often, I’m trying to figure out a sick animal’s problem or helping ease their suffering through euthanasia which is never easy (but that’s another post later).

  3. Great post! I have seen an alarming rise in anti-spay propaganda on the net lately (increased risk of cancer, blah blah blah… I want to see more scientific proof of these internet theories! I will not believe something simply because it’s making the rounds of Facebook.) It drives me crazy because the last thing we need is to have people taking home a “spaying/neutering is bad” message. There are far too many unwanted animals as it is. I’m glad to see your post rebutting this anti-spaying nonsense and I plan to share it.

    I volunteer at my local animal shelter and the seasonal kitten influx alone is enough to prove to me how important it is to fix your pet. People have to realize that an obscene number of animals are euthanized at shelters because there are just too many needing homes, often because people were irresponsible and did not neuter their pets, resulting in unplanned pregnancies. Sigh…

    This is also why I cannot in good conscience buy animals from a breeder, even responsible ones. Not until every shelter/rescue pet has a home.

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