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Neutering

Female neutering or “Spaying”  This involves the surgical removal of both the ovaries and the uterus (womb) in a procedure called an Ovariohysterectomy.

Male neutering or “Castration”  This involves the surgical removal of both testicles.

What happens on the day?

Both spaying and castration are done under a full general anaesthetic. For this reason your pet should have no food overnight to ensure it has an empty stomach on the morning of surgery.

  • All animals are given a pre-operation check and sometimes a pre-anaesthetic blood sample to check that the liver and kidneys are working ok before the surgery.
  • A light sedative is then given to ensure that your dog/cat is sleepy and calm before the anaesthetic.
  • The anaesthetic is then given and the operation performed.
  • A pain relieving injection is given before they wake up so that on recovery they will be more comfortable.
  • Your dog/cat will be able to go home the same day.
  • If there are any stitches, these will usually be removed about a week to10 days after the operation.

The female dog (Bitch)

A bitch can be neutered from 6 months of age, provided she is not in heat/season. If she is in heat, surgery is best delayed for 3 months to allow hormonal activity to settle down.

Benefits

  • Your bitch will no longer come into heat – which means no bleeding or mess or having to keep her away from male dogs for 3 weeks or more, twice every year.
  • No false pregnancies or other behavioural changes following a season.
  • No unwanted pregnancies and no unwanted pups. Many people think it is good for a bitch to have a litter of pups – this is NOT TRUE. Having pups will NOT prevent health problems in later life.
  • No womb infections (Pyometra). Older un-neutered bitches are at risk of developing these potentially life threatening infections, usually just after they have been in season.
  • Greatly reduced risk of developing mammary (breast) tumours (see picture at right), especially if they are neutered early. A bitch neutered before her first season has a 0.05% (1 in 2000) chance of developing tumours. A bitch neutered after her second season has a 26% (just over 1 in 4) chance of developing tumours.
  • Less risk of other diseases such as Diabetes.

The Male Dog

A male dog can be castrated at any stage but usually around or after 6 months of age.

Benefits

  • Decreased chance of aggression or aggressive behaviour.
  • Decreased tendency to roam.
  • Castration stops undesirable mating behaviour (E.g. trying to mate with cushions, etc).
  • Decreased risk of potentially life threatening conditions such as testicular tumours, prostate problems, hernias, etc.
  • Your dog will not be responsible for unwanted pregnancies.

The Female Cat (Queen)

Female cats can be spayed from 6 months onwards although this can be done earlier (3-4 months) if necessary.

Benefits

  • No unwanted pregnancies and no unwanted kittens. Many people think it is good for a female cat to have a litter of kittens – this is NOT TRUE. Having kittens will NOT prevent health problems in later life.
  • Less chance of being involved in fights with other cats and so less risk of diseases which can be spread by bites (such as FIV and FeLV – both incurable viral diseases)
  • No womb infections (Pyometra). Older un-neutered female cats are at risk of developing these potentially life threatening infections, usually just after they have been in season.

The Male Cat (Tom)

Male cats can be castrated from about 5-6 months onwards.

Benefits

  • Castrated Toms are a lot less likely to roam far and so are less likely to be involved in road accidents, etc.
  • Less chance of being involved in fights with other cats and so less risk of diseases which can be spread by bites (such as FIV and FeLV – both incurable viral diseases)
  • Less antisocial behaviour such as spraying urine in the house and the associated strong smell from un-neutered tom cats.
  • Your cat will not be responsible for unwanted pregnancies.

Risks associated with neutering

  • The Anaesthetic - All anaesthetics involve some degree of risk but these are very much reduced in young healthy animals.
  • Weight gain - Many people worry that their pet will get fat after neutering. While neutered pets are slightly more prone to gaining weight, this can be easily controlled through dietary management.
  • Change in temperament - Neutering rarely produces undesirable changes in temperament. For male dogs showing aggression, neutering is not a guarantee that the animals demeanor will improve, but it is still highly recommended.
  • Neutered bitches have a slightly higher risk of developing urinary incontinence later in life. Certain breeds, such as Dobermans, are more at risk. However, urinary incontinence can also develop in un-neutered bitches and in male dogs.

Fact: Neutered pets are healthier and live longer than un-neutered pets.

Useful links

Dogs Trust Neutering

International Cat Care

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