Spay/Neuter FAQ

Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

Spaying/Neutering is the ONLY way to eliminate pet overpopulation! It addresses the homeless animal problem at its source. Plus, it’s good for you, your pet, and the community!

What do "spay" and "neuter" mean?

Female dogs and cats are spayed by removing their reproductive organs, and male dogs and cats are neutered by removing their testicles. In both cases, the surgery is performed while the pet is under anesthesia.

How is spaying/neutering good for the pet and the pet owner?

Spaying/Neutering can lower vet bills! Neutered pets are less prone to a variety of diseases. Spayed females have a lower risk of breast cancer (which is 90% fatal in cats and 50% fatal in dogs) and life threatening uterine infections. Neutered males have no risk of testicular disease and a lower risk of prostate diseases. Plus, the cost to have your pet spayed or neutered at the Delaware SPCA’s low-cost clinic is a lot less than having to care for a litter or litters.

Spaying/Neutering can lead to better pet behavior! A spayed female won’t go into heat which will prevent yowling, frequent urination and discharge. Neutered male dogs are better behaved and will not feel the need to mark their territory. A neutered male dog won’t be as inclined to roam in search of a mate; roaming animals can cause vehicular accidents, scare children, and get separated from their homes.

Spaying/Neutering can prevent fights between pets! Fights between pets can be serious, causing deep wounds and transmitting diseases. Neutered males tend to be less aggressive to both animals and people, especially if they are neutered at a young age.

How is spaying/neutering good for the community?

If more or all pets are spayed/neutered, there will be less stray, homeless, unwanted animals. Communities spend millions of dollars to control unwanted animals, and yet millions continue to die in high-kill rate shelters every year. Euthanasia is not the solution to the pet overpopulation problem, the problem can only be addressed through spay/neuter.

When and how often can animals breed?

Female cats can breed three times a year and have an average of four kittens per litter. Dogs can breed twice a year and have an average of 6-10 puppies per litter. Female cats can breed as young as four months old and dogs as young as six months!

At what age is it safe to spay/neuter?

The Delaware SPCA will spay/neuter puppies and kittens when they’re 3 months old and weigh at least 3 pounds (for cats) or 5 pounds (for dogs). It’s a myth that you can’t spay/neuter kittens and puppies when they’re young – they actually bounce back from spay/neuter surgery very quickly! Pediatric spay/neuter is safe and is less stressful on the animal than waiting until they’re older.

Isn’t it better for my pet to have one litter before I get her spayed?

No, that’s a myth! Medical evidence shows that female pets that are spayed before their first heat are typically healthier in the long run.

Isn’t it a good idea for my children to experience the “miracle of birth?”

By allowing your pet to give birth, you are contributing to pet overpopulation (please refer to previous question/answer for further information). Explain to your children that preventing the birth of some pets can save the lives of others and consider fostering a pregnant animal from a shelter if you still feel the need to see the “miracle of birth.”

Will my pet get fat and lazy if she/he is spayed/neutered?

No, that’s a myth! Most pets get fat and lazy because they are overfed and/or don’t get enough exercise.

I know I can find good homes for all the puppies/kittens – especially if they’re purebreds – so what’s the problem?

For every human born in the United States, 45 cats and 15 dogs will be born. Six to eight million cats and dogs are waiting in shelters across the country; 25% of shelter animals are purebreds. Every home in which you place one of your pet’s offspring – purebred or not – takes a home away from a purebred or mixed breed dog or cat waiting in a shelter. And, in less than one year’s time, each or your pet’s offspring may have his or her own litter, contributing to the pet overpopulation problem even further. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one puppy/kitten and one litter at a time.

Will spaying/neutering make my dog less “protective” or make my male pet feel like “less” of a male?

Spaying/neutering does not affect a pet’s natural instinct to protect the home and the family, and pets don’t have any concept of sexual identity or ego. A pet’s personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones, so neutering will not change a pet’s basic personality or make him suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis.

My dog/cat is so special! Doesn’t it make sense to want a puppy/kitten just like her?

A dog or cat may be a great pet and family member, but that doesn’t mean his/her offspring will be a carbon copy! Professional animal breeders who follow generations of bloodlines can’t guarantee they will get just what they want out of a particular litter. A pet owner’s chances are even slimmer. In fact, an entire litter of puppies or kittens might get all of a pet’s (and/or her mate’s) worst characteristics!

What if I can't afford to have my pet spayed or neutered?

The Delaware SPCA can help! Delaware residents who are on public assistance (TANF, Medicaid, Food Stamps, General Assistance, WIC, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and/or Social Security Disability) can qualify for the State spay/neuter program under which pets can be sterilized for $20. Click here to go to the Delaware Dept of Agriculture website. If you are not receiving public assistance under one of the programs listed above, we still may be able to help with the cost, so please contact us at 302-998-2281.