Before Sterilizing Your Pet, Ask Yourself This

Sterilize cat

Pets are normally sterilized by neutering or spaying. Even though neutering and spaying are commonly encouraged by animal activists and vets, it's a good idea to ask yourself a key question before sterilizing your pet – how alike are pets and humans?

Neutering is carried out on males and involves removal of the testicles.

What is neutering?

Spaying is carried out on females and involves the removal of the entire reproductive tract.

What is spaying?

There are benefits to spaying and neutering, such as reducing the risk of testicular and uterus infections and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, but it may not make sense to do so if you believe that humans and animals are intrinsically the same. Not many humans would voluntarily sterilize themselves for such benefits – if you are unwilling to do this to yourself, it's strange to want to do this to your pet. Of course, if you do not mind doing the same to yourself and your loved ones, it's much more straightforward.

If you believe that humans are indeed intrinsically different from other animals, what is this difference? Will this fundamental disparity answer why you want to do something to your pet that you wouldn't want to do to yourself? Some people say that animals do not have souls whereas humans do, which certainly justifies sterilizing your pet for the benefits that it gives. However, assuming that animals have no souls is a bit of a slippery slope. It can also justify "cruel" treatment towards pets as how can ill-treating a souless animal be cruel? A pet would be akin to a robot, except that this robot is made of blood and bones instead of bolts and nuts.

The risk of a dog developing testicular cancer is much higher than that of a human. However, partly due to the prevalent practise of castrating dogs, there appears to be no large scale study confirming this. Also, even though dogs' testicular cancer risk is seemingly higher, the cancer rarely spreads, unlike in human beings.

Pet Bites

Or the fundamental difference may be a biological one. Some animals, unlike humans, have an exceedingly high chance of developing certain cancers or other life-threatening diseases if neutering or spaying is not carried out. For such cases, not carrying out these procedures may be foolhardy.

There are those who have the view that some animals are very different from humans whereas others, such as dogs and dolphins, are not (I'm obviously biased). Or like many of us, you are not sure whether there is any fundamental difference. Erring on the side of caution is only prudent here. It's good to know that, beside neutering and spaying, vasectomy or tubal litigation can also help in your pet's birth control.

Vasectomy is performed on males in which the vas deferens (tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the seminal vesicles) are cut, then tied or sealed. Vasectomy is considered a permanent birth control measure.

What is vasectomy?

Tubal ligation is preformed on females whereby the fallopian tubes are surgically cut or blocked off, preventing pregnancy. Like vasectomy, tubal litigation is considered a permanent birth control measure.

What is tubal litigation?

Our pets depend on us and to many pet owners, they are our our dear friends. How can we not give serious consideration before carrying out irreversible procedures on them?