May 2011

As a pet parent, you’ve probably heard about the importance of spaying or neutering your pets to avoid unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of dogs and cats without good homes. The ASPCA® estimates around 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide each year, and about 3 million to 4 million are euthanized. Spaying or neutering also offers health and behavioral benefits for your pet that may surprise you.

Check Your Smarts: True or False?*  

1. Spaying or neutering is too risky and painful.

False: Like any surgery, spaying or neutering can have complications, but it’s a routine procedure, and the risks are relatively low for healthy pets. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so there shouldn't be any pain during the operation. Your veterinarian can tell you more and give you specific instructions for post-surgery care.

2. It can help prevent cancer.

True: Spaying a female pet prevents ovarian and uterine cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer. Neutering will keep a male from getting testicular cancer and also decrease the chances that he’ll develop prostate cancer. Spaying or neutering can also help your pet’s health in other ways by reducing the urge to roam and fight with other animals that could pass on contagious diseases.

3. Spaying or neutering is expensive.

False: Spaying or neutering doesn’t have to be costly, and the significant health and behavior benefits can outweigh the expense. Plus it’s an important step in reducing pet overpopulation and homelessness. Both Level 3 and Level 4 cover spay or neuter surgery. The ASPCA has a searchable database that can help you locate a low-cost spay/neuter program in your community.

Pet Surgery Tip

If your pet is spayed or neutered—or undergoes some other type of surgery—it’s important to keep him or her from licking the incision site. Try distracting your pet with a favorite toy or ask your veterinarian about an Elizabethan collar.

Here are some other ideas to help your pet mend:

 Set up a warm and quiet place for your pet to rest.

 Avoid bathing your pet for at least 10 days after surgery.

 For dogs, limit vigorous activity like running.

 For cats, try to keep them from climbing and jumping.

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Pet-Friendly Gardening

Every year, the ASPCA®’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) receives tens of thousands of calls about pets who may have been harmed by poisonous substances in yards and gardens. Help make sure your pet can enjoy Mother Nature safely with these tips.

Pick pet-friendly plants.

Many common outdoor plants can be hazardous to cats or dogs. The ASPCA’s searchable list can help you avoid greenery that can be problematic for your pet.

Practice safe fertilizing.

Fertilizer is great food for plants, but not for pets. Follow fertilizer directions carefully and keep your pet away from treated areas for the recommended amount of time.

Watch the weed killer.

Like fertilizer, garden helpers like weed killers or insecticides can be harmful to pets. Read the instructions closely and keep your pet away from these substances.

Store garden tools safely.

Don’t leave implements like rakes, hoes, tillers or trowels around your lawn. Your pet could accidentally step on them or get injured while trying to play with them.

Take care with compost.

Composting is a great way to recycle waste, but the materials in compost—such as moldy foods, coffee and various fruits and vegetables—can harm your pet.

Pet Speak: A Customer’s Story**  

I got ASPCA Pet Health Insurance so I wouldn’t have to worry about money when thinking about the welfare of my puppy, Misty. It allows me to get the best care for her.

I recently had her spayed, and I wasn’t concerned about the price of the procedure because she was covered by Level 3. ASPCA Pet Health Insurance gives me comfort knowing that if Misty ever gets hurt or sick, I won’t have to worry about how to pay for her medical care. That’s an amazing feeling!

— Laura G., Buffalo, N.Y.

Share your story!

Conditions discussed in this e-newsletter are not necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Please review your individual policy for specifics by visiting the Member Center online at or call our customer service line at 1-866-204-6764.

*This newsletter is not intended to provide advice on individual pet health or behavioral matters or to substitute for consultation with a veterinary doctor.

**While the above testimonial may include examples of recent claim payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.