Spaying, Neutering, and New Paradigms
Everybody knows that responsible pet owners spay or neuter their animals.
Everybody knows that responsible pet owners do their best to ensure their pets live long, healthy lives.
The above statements are part of a paradigm we have been following for decades: in many parts of the country, you almost never see an intact animal unless somebody is specifically planning to breed their pet. And pet owners strive to ensure their companions’ long, healthy lives, each year spending more and more time and money on medical treatment, new food options, toys, even psychiatric prescriptions.
So what happens as more and more new information is uncovered that says spaying and neutering animals may not be the best way to ensure the longest and healthiest life possible? What are responsible pet owners to do when this cognitive dissonance has been foisted upon them?
Joint disease, cancer, and behavioral issues? Ovaries might mean a longer life for my pet? This does not jibe!
This is an issue that only pops up around the edges of pet ownership right now: you generally only hear about it from people with an interest in veterinary medicine, the “granola” crowd, or trainers and agility enthusiasts with an interest in structural health. But it is not going away,* and is an issue that will have to be addressed and reconciled by casual pet owners eventually.
Finding the best way to transition from the paradigm of “Everybody knows that responsible pet owners spay or neuter their animals” to “Everybody knows that responsible owners manage their pets to ensure that they do not create unwanted litters” is going to be an important task in the years ahead.
* in fact, “Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs” which was published in 2007 is one of the most visited pages on our website, and continues to grow in popularity.