Dog owners in America are frequently advised to spay or neuter their dogs for health reasons. A number of health benefits are cited, yet evidence is usually not cited to back up the alleged health benefits. The most severe risks are usually not mentioned. Sterilizing dogs not only has long term health risks for dogs, but also has bad effects on the owner’s mental health.
Alexandra Horowitz argues that the procedure of spay or neuter our pet was supposed to decrease the number of animals that end up in shelters; to lengthen the lives of animals; and to reduce the chances of behavioral issues. But the fact is spaying or neutering does none of this. Besides, spaying and neutering has not impacted the number of pets in shelters; does not decrease the risk of disease; and that spaying or neutering does not have as big of an impact on pet behavior as we think. For owners, Dr. Spitznagel and his colleagues from Kent State University found that owners with sick pets scored higher on questions about stress and anxiety levels and depression than those who had healthy animals. They also scored lower on indicators of quality of life, a measurable degree of enjoyment and satisfaction in daily routine including mood, health, work and relationships.
Instead of sterilizing dogs, we should be keeping better tabs on our pets to ensure they don’t stray; training our pets better to ensure that they are well socialized; and ensuring that we can responsibly afford the cost of owning a pet.