I have just brought a dog home. Is it necessary to spay or neuter my pet?

One of the most important decisions you will make is to spay or neuter your cat or dog, thereby preventing them from breeding in the future. The procedure is relatively inexpensive, and the benefits far outweigh the small amount of discomfort caused by the operation.

The UAE has far too many cats and dogs living on the street or being surrendered to animal rescue organisations. The sad fact is that there are simply not enough homes to go around, leading to animals living in shelters or being euthanised. By spaying or neutering your pet, you are helping to control the pet homelessness crisis, ensuring your pet, should he or she escape, will not be adding litters to the vast numbers of unwanted pets.

Also read: a haven for rescued animals

There are also medical benefits. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumours, so your female pet will live longer. Neutering male pets will prevent testicular cancer and decrease the occurrence of prostate problems. This means fewer trips to the vet because of illness for your pets and less money spent on treatment.

You will also likely find that spayed and neutered pets are better behaved. They are less likely to roam away from home in an attempt to find a mate. This reduces the risk of your pet being involved in a traffic accident or getting into fights with other males. Neutered cats and dogs are also less inclined to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine in the house. This is a common problem I see all the time, and nine times out of ten, if there isn’t an underlying health problem, neutering a male that is spraying will resolve the issue.

My patients’ owners express worry that their pet will gain weight after the procedure. This is not the case. Overfeeding, a poor diet and lack of exercise will cause any pet to pack on the pounds. A spayed or neutered pet can stay slim, fit and healthy as long as food intake is monitored and plenty of exercise is provided.

Speak to your vet about when to neuter your dog or cat. She will be able to recommend the best age to carry out the procedure and advise you on how to best care for your pet following the surgery.

Also read: Dubai’s pet whisperers

Remember, the cost of spaying or neutering your companion will be far less than caring for a litter or treating preventable health problems further down the line.

Dr Sara Elliott, from the British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai, is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.