There are many medical and behavioural benefits to having your pet neutered.
Spaying Female Dogs
It is advisable to neuter all female dogs (bitches) not intended for breeding before their first season. They can be spayed from as early as 6 months. In older bitches it is safest to wait until 3 months after the end of a season before spaying. Spaying can help to prevent the following problems:
- Pyometra – An infection of the uterus (womb) which can be very serious and potentially fatal.
- Mammary Cancer – Tumours of the mammary glands can be common in middle aged or older un-spayed bitches. Dogs spayed after having their first season are also more prone to mammary cancer than dogs spayed before the first season.
- False Pregnancy (Pseudo Pregnancy) – Some un-spayed bitches develop hormonal changes 2-3 months after a season. In most it is not a serious condition but can be inconvenient for you as an owner and disturbing for your pet. False pregnancies can require veterinary attention.
- Coming into Season (Oestrus) – If unspayed, your bitch will come into season once or twice a year. When she is in season, she will attract male dogs, which could make her try to escape to seek their attention. She will also have a bloody discharge for 1-3 weeks.
- Unwanted Pregnancy – There are many pets that have unwanted pregnancies and many dogs at rescue centres that need new homes. It is therefore important to avoid this by having your bitch spayed if you are not intending to breed from her.
Although routine, a bitch spay (ovariohysterectomy) is a major surgical procedure that involves removing both ovaries and the uterus under general anaesthesia. Most bitches are able to go home on the day of surgery, although sometimes a night in hospital is necessary post-operatively.
Castrating Male Dogs
If not intended for breeding, it is also advisable to castrate male dogs at 6-12 months of age to prevent the following problems:
- Behavioural Problems – For example, aggression, mounting and urine marking.
- Testicular Cancer – These tumours can be benign or malignant.
- Perineal Hernias – This is a condition in dogs where there is abnormal displacement of the pelvic and/or abdominal organs (such as small intestine, rectum, prostate or bladder) into the region around the anus called the perineum. This can require major reconstructive surgery.
- Prostate Problems – Can include cysts, enlargements or infection.
- Perineal Adenomas – These are tumours that occur around the anus. They will often require surgery.
Castration is routine surgery that involves a shorter operation than a bitch spay. It involves removal of both testicles under general anaesthesia.
Spaying Female Cats
Female cats (queens) should be kept indoors before they are spayed to prevent them from getting ‘caught’ by un-neutered male cats and becoming pregnant (unless of course, you would like them to have kittens!). Female cats are normally spayed at around 6 months of age. Spaying your cat will stop her coming into season which will attract unwanted male attention, stop unwanted pregnancies and reduce the risk of medical problems such as pyometra and mammary cancer (see above).
Castrating Male Cats
It is also recommended to neuter male cats (toms) at 6 months of age, if not intended for breeding. Un-neutered male cats tend to roam more which can put them at higher risk of being involved in a road traffic accident or a cat fight. Fighting also increases the risk of your cat becoming infected with the Feline Leukaemia Virus (if unvaccinated) or the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (cat AIDS). Castrating your cat may also help to prevent him from spraying urine in the house and being aggressive to other cats.
Cats and dogs are prone to weight gain after being neutered. This is caused by a combination of an increase in appetite and a reduction in metabolic rate after surgery (they need less food but want more!). This can easily be managed by careful control of the diet. After your pet has been neutered, our experienced veterinary nurses will give you advice on your pet’s weight control and diet.
Neutering male and female rabbits can make them less aggressive and easier to handle. It can also help to prevent female rabbits developing uterine carcinoma (cancer of the womb). Male and female rabbits can be neutered from 4-5 months of age. Female rabbits can get pregnant from as early as 16 weeks of age so it is important to have your rabbits sexed when you get them and keep male and females separate.
Spaying female guinea pigs is a lot more difficult than spaying rabbits. Therefore it is more appropriate to castrate males when keeping mixed groups. Be aware that male guinea pigs may harbour fertile sperm for up to six weeks after castration! Older females may be prone to ovarian cysts that may result in the need for spaying later in life. However, this does not appear to be common enough to advise preventative surgery.
In general, castration is simpler than spaying. However, it is often more appropriate and cost effective to sex offspring as early as possible and maintain separate male and female colonies.
For further information, or to book your pet in to be neutered, please call us or pop in to reception to see us.