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Having a Litter So My Child Will Experience Birth – The Irreverent Vet Speaks

Today’s subject is one that really grinds my gears. It’s something that I encounter way too much. It always comes up the same way, too…

I see a young healthy puppy, usually for the first time, and during the exam I ask the owners whether they are planning on spaying or neutering their new friend. Their answer goes something like this: “No, we would like to have one litter so little Sally and Billy can witness the miracle of birth.”

Oh my gosh…this drives me nuts. I HATE hearing this!

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself for those of you that don’t know me. I’m the Irreverent Veterinarian and I give you my honest opinion of issues in the animal care world. Some might say that I’m honest to a fault. I speak my mind and I won’t sweet-talk you or sugarcoat the truth. I tell it like it is – to you, the drug companies, the pet product manufacturers, professional breeders and pet owners. Some of what I say can be controversial, but that doesn’t stop me-it can be hard to hear the truth.

So, what about the “miracle of birth” and “just one litter”? I think it’s a terrible idea.

Life is a beautiful thing. I remember the first time I saw a calf born. I had tears in my eyes. The creation of new life, especially when it’s the birth of an adorable litter of puppies or kittens, can be breathtaking. I think it’s very important for children to learn about the life cycle and birth is definitely part of it.

But many times the process of birth is not as beautiful as you think it will be. In fact, I see more things go wrong than right.

For example, pregnancy complications are common among dogs and cats. Not all animals are born healthy or even alive. A stillborn puppy or kitten, or one that dies tragically soon after birth, can be heartbreaking and traumatizing for children. What is even worse sometimes is when the babies are born with health issues that are expensive to treat and often not in the budget of the well-meaning parent. This “miracle of birth” soon turns into a nightmare in just minutes.

Life lessons may be learned but they’re often not the ones intended, and they’re not always happy.

My Final Thoughts on “Just One Litter”

What do you want your child to witness: the miracle of birth or a suffering animal? Even worse, what about the irresponsibility of a parent who can’t afford to care for their pet or the puppies and kittens that they allowed to be born?

On top of that, don’t forget what happens once those adorable babies grow up. Many of these unwanted puppies and kittens end up in shelters or abandoned. There are tons of healthy dogs euthanized every day because there simply aren’t enough homes.

If you want your child to experience the miracle of birth, watch a video like this one instead. Discuss the miracle of life with your children afterward. No animals are in danger and you don’t have to find any homes for the babies.

Like it or not, this is what vets really think about this subject. What do you think-is it a good idea to let pets have “just one litter”?


The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can’t always say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another point of view. All opinions are those of the Irreverent Vet and not the views of and are not endorsed by