Group of stray dogs

World Spay Day: The Importance of Spaying and Neutering of animals

FOUR PAWS advocates for spaying and neutering of animals as a proven means of saving the lives of companion animals


Cape Town, 26 February 2024 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS urges the importance of spaying and neutering healthcare procedures for puppies and kittens, as well as for older dogs and cats. This World Spay day, 27 February we unpack the myths and misconceptions about spaying and neutering that may prevent pet owners from taking action.  

We chat to FOUR PAWS science unit animal welfare scientist, Sabrina Karl, who says: “A pet should be spayed if there is the risk of unwanted reproduction either in their own household indoors or if the pets can roam around outdoors. In a country where cat and dog overpopulation is an issue, spaying animals is crucial to avoid an increase of stray animal populations including indoor pets as well.” 

More reasons to spay and neuter your animals would be if there are various pets at home or outdoors and the risk of fighting or hurting each other exist due to natural competition, especially if they of the same sex, or aggressions towards humans triggered by sexual hormones. 

Karl advises that dog owners should consider neutering their male dogs if they show behaviours that indicate a high stress level from staying inside and trying to escape to reach females in heat outside, intensely howling, scratching doors, or refusing to eat.  

Dr Annelize Roos of Cape Town recently worked with FOUR PAWS at the PDSA Sterilisation Drive sponsored community outreach project held in Uniondale, a small town in the Little Karoo in the Western Cape, where over 450 animals were spayed and neutered. Dr Roos, a veterinarian from the Envirovet CVC veterinary clinic, who has completed thousands of spaying and neutering procedures, has identified over the years various myths surrounding spaying.  

Dr Roos says, “One common misconception is that male dogs that are neutered are not effective guard dogs or are unable to hunt or track as well as before they were spayed or neutered. There is a belief that a female dog must have a litter before she can be considered a ‘good dog’, these beliefs are false. Spaying and neutering can still benefit them without diminishing their capacity to carry out their roles.” 

Neutering can reduce sexually driven aggression and help male dogs to stay focused on their guard and hunting dog duties. Ultimately, these procedures can help to keep pets healthier and happier for longer. 

Myths surrounding spaying or neutering pets: 

False: Dogs and cats get fat if they are neutered or spayed 

True: Spaying and neutering does not cause weight gain if pet owners continue to provide healthy diets and exercise. While the health benefits of spaying and neutering outweigh the risks, pet owners should be aware of the importance of proper diet and exercise for their pets regardless of their reproductive status. 

False: That a dog or cat’s personality changes after spaying or neutering 

True: Spaying and neutering can reduce undesirable behaviours such as fighting and urine marking. However, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that it changes a pet's personality. Responsible pet ownership, including regular exercise and socialisation, is important for all cats and dogs.  

False: Neutering and spaying are unaffordable 

True: While spaying and neutering can be expensive, many vets have special packages, community pet health centres offer free or reduced-cost services, and animal welfare organisations often offer spaying and neutering procedures at reduced costs. This can help pet owners make the responsible decision to spay or neuter their pets without breaking the bank. 


Public Relations Officer ZA

Deidre Daniels

Public Relations Officer

+27 (0)21 702 4277

+27 (0)78 675 8220

9B Bell Crescent, Westlake Business Park, 
Green Building, Cape Town, 7945

A Public Relations professional with over eight years’ experience in fostering positive relationships between organisations and media.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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