Spay and Neuter Awareness Month 

February might be the month of romantic intimacy for humans, but it’s the month of population control for pets. That’s because this month is National Spay and Neuter Awareness month!

As the frost melts, animals go outdoors more often, which leads to unwanted litters. These kittens and puppies are abandoned by their owners or born outdoors unable to fend for themselves. Not all of these animals will make it to animal shelters, and the few that do can push a facility’s capacity to the brink. 

At the very center of spay and neuter month celebrations is World Spay Day on February 23. Launched in 1995, this day aims to educate more people on the benefits of spaying and neutering for pets and stray animals.

Trap-Neuter-Release Programs for Stray Animals

To control the population and maintain the welfare of stray animals like community cats, trap-neuter-release programs are organized. 

Cats are humanely captured using box traps, then brought to a vet for neutering and vaccination. Their ears are tipped to indicate they have already been through the trap and release program, then returned to their neighborhood to live without contributing to feline overpopulation.

Why is Spaying and Neutering  Pets Important?

While the population control benefit of animal castration is obvious for strays, you may be wondering “Why are spaying and neutering important for pets?” If you can control their ability to reproduce simply by supervising them when interacting with members of the opposite sex, then why undergo a surgical procedure?

A big part of responsible pet ownership is preventing health issues before they occur. Spaying females can avert uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant in 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Neutering males decreases the chance of testicular cancer and prostate problems.

Spaying and neutering also curbs problematic behaviors. Non-neutered animals are more likely to mark their territory with pungent urine. When in heat, many pets escape their homes to look for mates, which may lead to vehicular accidents, exposure to pathogens, and fights with other animals. 

If you’re apprehensive about the cost of the surgery, know that it will be much less than what you’d spend on taking care of a litter or treating one of the diseases listed above.

When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Dogs are typically neutered at 6-9 months old, but even eight-week-old puppies can be operated on as long as they are healthy. Cats are often neutered between eight weeks and five months of age.

Regardless of age, your veterinarian will check your pet’s medical history prior to any surgical procedure. Ultimately, they will give the go signal on whether your pet can be operated on or not. 

Tips for A Speedy Recovery

Like any surgical procedure, there is a period of recovery after a spay or neuter. To help your pet recover quickly, here are some tips:

- Give them a quiet and safe space to rest indoors. 
- Avoid intense physical exercise like running, jumping, or playing with other pets for at least two weeks, or as long as your veterinarian has advised. 
- Check on the incision once a day to check if it is healing properly. 
- Outfit your pet with an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from licking the stitches open. 
- Avoid bathing your pet for at least ten days after the procedure. 
- And don't forget to give lots of pets and cuddles to keep your fur buddy happy and loved!