GREAT BAY – “Spaying and neutering is very important – especially in St. Maarten where we see a number of unwanted animals, and we continuously struggle to look for homes for new animals, but spaying and neutering keeps the stray population down,” Dekha Swanston, Office Manager of the St. Maarten Veterinary Clinic, said
“In an effort to help your pet live a healthy life, we provide spay and neuter services. Choosing to spay or neuter your new pet is one of the most responsible decisions you can make as a pet owner. Spaying and neutering pets is estimated to add years to your pet’s life in decreasing or eliminating their chances of getting certain cancers; it also helps decrease the amount of animals in shelters and the number of euthanized pets each year. We also work very closely with Animal Welfare, Animal Defenders, and SXM PAWS, and help them with the low costs spays and neuters. On average, we do about 20 to 35 spays a month for dogs and 6 to 12 for cats, but for males, the number is not as high and range between 1 and 6. More people are inclined to spay the females faster than neutering the males, due to the mentality that males meant to procreate, but that is a myth. The older the male dogs get, the higher the risk of prostate problems such as cancer, and infections come into play and those are things that can cause their dogs to die – and the same goes for females.”
Both spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that prevent an animal from reproducing. Spaying and neutering are typically recommended for pets that are at least 6 months old and are not going to be used for breeding. Spaying is performed on female animals and involves surgically removing the uterus and ovaries to prevent pregnancy. Neutering is implemented on male animals and encompasses removing the testicles to eliminate fertility. Not only does spaying and neutering help limit the amount of animals born – which will, in turn, decrease the amount of strayed dogs and cats – these procedures also have health and behavior benefits to keep the animals safe.
According to FCIA, Foundation for Care of Indigent Animals, “Spaying removes the ovaries and uterus, eliminating the possibilities of ovarian and uterine infection or cancer. Bacterial infection of the uterus (pyometra) commonly afflicts older un-spayed cats and dogs. In its advanced stages, pyometra causes general illness and kidney failure, or death. If the uterus ruptures the animal will probably die, and requires emergency spaying – which may not save the animal. The best preventive care is to spay dogs and cats when they are young and healthy.
Spaying can also prevent mammary gland tumors, the most common tumor in un-spayed female dogs and the third most common tumor in cats. Nearly 50% of mammary tumors in dogs are cancerous, and in cats the percentage is nearly 90%. Once a cancerous mammary tumor spreads to the bones or lungs, the cancer will be fatal. An un-spayed dog is 200 times more likely to develop mammary tumors than a dog spayed before her first heat. An un-spayed cat is 7 times more likely than a spayed cat to develop mammary tumors. Spayed dogs and cats also avoid the dangers of giving birth. A narrow birth canal or inadequate body size can sometimes make giving birth dangerous.
In male animals, neutering removes the testicles, which prevents testicular tumors and greatly reduces the risk of developing rectal tumors. A dog that develops a testicular tumor must be treated before the tumor spreads – the only effective means is neutering. Testicular tumors are especially prevalent in older dogs and are the second most common tumor in male dogs.
Prostate gland enlargement affects over 60% of unneutered male dogs older than five years. Prostatic enlargement predisposes a dog to prostate and urinary-tract infections, which can make urinating difficult and painful. If an infection leads to an abscess, the abscess must be surgically drained. Common consequences of the surgery include system wide infection and shock or sometimes death. Because prostatic enlargement is caused by the male hormone testosterone, and testosterone is produced by the testicles. Neutering acts as both a preventative measure and a cure. Additionally, by eliminating the sexual drive that can cause a dog to bolt from the yard or house, neutering helps protect dogs from injuries associated with roaming, such as being hit by a car or infections transmitted by other animals.”