Healthy Pets and Safer Communities by Spaying and Neutering
By Tisheena Talk
Choosing to have your pet spayed or neutered is important to help keep your pet stay healthier and happier and will reduce the number of homeless pets in our community whose lives are at risk if they arrive at an overcrowded shelter. In addition, there’s another important benefit which is to help prevent bites and attacks on humans. Spaying and neutering isn’t just an animal issue, it is also a public safety issue.
Spay/neuter can help create healthier communities and has a direct impact on the number of dog bites in a community. Studies show that most dog bites (60–80 percent) are caused by intact male dogs. Pregnant or nursing female dogs are more likely to bite as well. Reducing your pet’s likelihood of biting or ﬁghting may also help protect members of the community from injury and protect you from potential legal action. Spayed/neutered pets are also less likely to engage in behaviors that could cause problems with neighbors.
Dogs are more likely to display aggressive behaviors if they are not spayed or neutered. This may be caused by a variety of situations. Studies show that due to higher testosterone levels, unneutered male dogs between eighteen months and two years of age –the typical age of sexual maturity—are more likely to show aggressive behaviors than females or neutered males.
One well-known study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that nearly 85 percent of dog bite fatalities involved dogs that were not spayed or neutered. Other factors resulting in attacks, according to the study were dogs who were not socialized and dogs who were abused or neglected. Dogs who live on chains without interacting with people are also likely to bite. The study showed that the dogs’ breed was not a factor for viciousness.
Unneutered male dogs are also more likely to fight with other dogs, and this can lead to injuries to people if someone tries to intervene and break up the fight. Dog owners tend to want to get their own dogs out of fights to protect them, and a person may get bitten in this process.
An unneutered male dog has an instinct to roam around the neighborhood and mark his territory with urine, especially if there is a female in heat (ready to breed) nearby. Dogs may recognize the scent of a female in heat from a long distance away, and they may stick around the area for many hours or days. Groups of male dogs may end together around a female in heat in the hopes of getting access to breed with her. The males may also be highly aroused and competitive, making them more likely to fight with each other, or even redirect their excitement or frustration on a person.
Female dogs that are not spayed don’t have all the same behaviors as males because they lack the hormone testosterone but may bite or attack when they are nursing or feeling protective of their puppies.
While neutering a dog is not the only way to prevent aggressive behaviors, it may sometimes lower certain types of aggression if they are related to hormones. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, that surgery alone may lessen aggressive behavior. If your dog isn't spayed or neutered, we strongly recommend that you have it as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of aggressive behaviors.