Monday, March 4, 2013

The #1 Way to Save Money as a Pet Parent

Photo Courtesy Janry Pet Resort

This is a subject that you either see the value of, or you don't. Some people don't care that 4 million pets are euthanized a year because they're not enough homes. However, if you don't care about that, then let me tell you this.

 I can help you save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Do I have your attention now? 

Give me a chance to explain before you determine I'm full of it. So here goes.

Note: "unaltered" means not spayed, neutered, or fixed. The following include some excerpts from my book Secrets of a Vet Tech

Lets start with the female dog.

For instance, it never seems to fail that at some point in the life of an unaltered female dog, she
will come into the clinic terribly ill. Often she is running a fever. Her white blood cell count will
be sky high indicating a heavy infection. Pyometra will be her diagnosis. “Pyo” as we call it, is
an infection of the uterus. The cure? Spaying her. Only this time it won't be cheap. I have
assisted in a lot of “pyo” surgeries and it is amazing what we will find. Sometimes, the uterus
and all surrounding tissues will be swollen to the size of full term pregnancy, but instead of
puppies, it will be full of infection. If not very carefully removed, you can puncture the tissue
sending infection throughout the body. The female dog will have to be on IV fluids and strong
antibiotics. The incision will probably be much bigger than it would have if her organs had been
a normal size. The cost of a surgery like this? Depending on the clinic and the severity of the
infection $350-$2500. The cost to have spayed her in the beginning $60-$250.  

In an effort not to gross you out too much, I have taken all the surgical images and put them in black and white. To the right is a normal uterus during spay. To the left is a pyometra. This particular one is in a small breed dog.

The image below is from a large breed dog. It is not unusual for the uterus to weigh 10-15 lbs when removed. The weight is caused by the infection. The incision needed to get out a uterus this size is MUCH more than a spay and takes longer healing time, IV fluids, and antibiotics.

Here in East Tennessee and  Southwest Virginia, and all across the country, there is financial assistance to get your pet altered. Contact your local humane society for what is available in your area. One of the best resources here in my area is the  Margaret B Mitchell Spay/Neuter Clinic . Another great one is Holly Help Spay and Neuter Fund . Often your local animal control will offer vouchers to pay for part or all of the cost of spaying your pet.

Female dogs, unlike cats, bleed during their heat cycle. That means on the carpet, the furniture,
the bed, or on YOU. I am amazed at how many people will buy diapers to put on the females
instead of spaying them. It is a waste of money and effort. Dealing with her mood swings are
also unpleasant and can lead to aggressive behavior 

Many things change when a pet is altered. For the ladies, the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer, as well as pyometra is eliminated. If spayed before the first heat cycle, her chances of breast cancer are drastically reduced. (And if you think breast cancer is rare in female dogs, I can promise you it is not). It also eliminated the chances of venereal tumors (yes, THOSE VD's) . Compare that to the cost of the surgeries, medications, and chemotherapy needed to treat those conditions and you are talking about thousands of dollars. Not to mention that by spaying her, her lifespan and quality of life is much improved.

This is true of female cats as well. 90% of female cats who contract breast tumors die from it. Not to mention her chances for contracting FIV and other diseases in increased massively.

If you've ever been around a female cat in heat, you no doubt know the sound. I never wait until a female cat goes into heat because it is one of the most annoying thing on the planet. Once, a kitten I rescued had to have a leg removed and her spay surgery had to wait. She begged everyone from my other cats, dogs, ferret, and even fighting cock (that I had also rescued) to relieve her of her....need. The day the vet gave the go ahead for surgery, it was done. And that little kitten is still alive sixteen years later.

Now onto the male dog and cat:

For the males, at least eight diseases or conditions are either eliminated or the chances greatly
reduced by neutering. Those include testicular cancer and torsion (twisting of the testicles),
rectal cancer, prostate abscess, cancer, and/or enlargement, hernias, benign perineal tumors,
orchitis (infection of the testicles, and venereal tumors (dogs can and do have venereal
diseases). Imagine the money needed to treat any one of those diseases.

This doesn't even include the practical side of the issue. Intact dogs and cats have as strong of a
desire to mate as the average human male teenager. (Scary, I know). The male of the species
(canine and feline) can smell out a female in heat from over a mile away. That's why 80% of the
pets hit by car are intact (unneutered) males.
They have one thing on their mind and watching
for traffic is not it.

So now, not only do you have to worry about the cancers and tumors, you have to pay to have the pet treated for being hit by a car if he survives long enough to get to the vet. The cost of something like that? Its depends. Is it a broken leg, or internal injuries? On average my estimate would be anywhere from $200-$1000+. 

Unaltered males tend to fight more and urine mark more often. The cost of having your own
dog or cat repaired is one thing. Having an aggressive pet, may mean paying to have the
neighbor's pet (or child) repaired. Unaltered male cats tend to pick up deadly diseases and get
bite abscesses more often.

Contrary to popular belief, an unneutered male dog is NOT a better protection dog than a
neutered dog. And a final note. I realize some men have trouble neutering their male dogs. They
feel as if they are doing a disservice to them. In fact, the opposite is true. A dog that does not
have to worry about nature's urges can focus on the job at hand. You are helping him live a
longer, happier life. If you could give him many more years with you, wouldn't you do it? You
can! Don't let your feelings get in the way of doing what is right for your dog. He will not miss
out on “the joy of sex”. He will have a greater chance of missing out on the joy of being hit by a
car, however. Isn't that more important?

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