New research from PDSA has revealed that 4.4 million pets are unneutered, leaving them in danger of life-threatening illnesses.
Vet charity PDSA today warned many much-loved family pets’ lives are at risk, as nearly 3 million dogs, 770,000 cats and 720,000 rabbits* are unneutered, leaving them susceptible to various dangerous conditions such as womb infections and cancers.
To coincide with World Spay Day (28 February) the charity’s vets are urging owners to get their pets neutered – a potentially life-saving, simple procedure that can help pets live longer, healthier lives.
The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report**, produced in conjunction with YouGov, has revealed why pets aren’t being neutered. The main reason given by owners was ‘Haven’t thought about it’ (22 per cent), followed by ‘Don’t believe in it’ (16 per cent) and ‘Not got round to it’ (14 per cent).
PDSA Vet Rebecca Ashman, said: “Sadly, vet practices across the UK see the devastating consequences of leaving pets unneutered all too often. Many cancers can be prevented by neutering, as can horrendous life-threatening conditions such as womb infections.
“As well as avoiding unwanted litters, neutering can have many health benefits for your pet. It’s best not to delay – health problems in unneutered pets are more likely as they get older. We all love our pets, so it’s important to prevent potential problems arising when we can. I’d highly recommend owners speak to their vet to avoid future heartache.”
Pet neutering levels vary considerably across the UK, with the North East seeing the highest levels of unneutered pets – 1 in 4 pets (26 per cent) – compared to 16 per cent of pets in the South East.
Regional variances of unneutered pets:
North East 26%
North West 24%
Northern Ireland 23%
Yorkshire & the Humber 22%
East Midlands 21%
South West 21%
East of England 20%
West Midlands 19%
South East 16%Myths and misconceptions may also be partly to blame for some owners choosing against neutering their pets, as Rebecca explains: “As a vet, I’ve heard many reasons why people are reluctant to have their pets neutered, ranging from worrying it will emasculate their pets, to concern about denying a pet’s parental rights. The reality is that animals don’t experience emotions in the same way we do. There’s no evidence to suggest there is an emotional cost to animals when they don’t have a litter. If owners have concerns about their pet having an anaesthetic and surgery, their vet or vet nurse will be able to put their minds at rest.
“There is also a fear that neutering will change your pet’s personality. Again, this a common misconception: neutering can reduce testosterone-fuelled behaviours – such as aggression – but this is not the same as changing their nature, which is shaped by genetics and life experiences. If owners have any questions, I’d always recommend they speak to their vet, who can give them specific advice for their pet and address any concerns.”
For all pet owners, regardless of species, unplanned pregnancies can be stressful and expensive, especially if there are complications, according to PDSA. It can be very difficult to find loving new homes for any offspring. As a result, many pets end up in rehoming and rescue centres.
For more advice from PDSA vets about neutering, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/neutering
House cat Sukie (7) from Dundee needed emergency surgery after developing a deadly womb infection, known as a pyometra. Her worried owner Mary Dorian said her beloved cat quickly became very ill so she rushed her along to Dundee PDSA Pet Hospital.
PDSA vets admitted the critically ill cat immediately and carried out a major operation, and thankfully were able to save her life. If there had been a delay in getting treatment, the outcome could have been very different.
Mary said: “I’m so grateful to PDSA for saving Sukie’s life. I’d urge other pet owners not to delay and get their pets neutered. The risk is simply not worth taking.”