The Benefits of Neutering
It is our belief that unless you have very serious intentions of breeding from your pet, then you should have them neutered. Neutering has benefits that not only apply to dogs and cats, but also to rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets. It can prevent unwanted pregnancies, illnesses and some unwanted behaviours.
So what exactly is neutering? In female pets, neutering or “spaying” is an ovariohysterectomy, which involves the removal of both ovaries as well as the womb, and in males, castration involves removing both testicles.
DOGS – Bitches (Females)
When to do it? In females, neutering has many benefits. We advise that this should be done ideally before their first season. Research has shown that in doing so, you can significantly reduce your pets chance of developing breast cancer in the future. In some breeds of dogs which are prone to developing urinary incontinence i.e. Boxers, Springer Spaniels, we recommend allowing them to have their first season first and then spaying them. If your dog has already started coming into season, it is strongly advised to wait until 3 months after their last season before having them spayed. The reason for this is that this is the most dormant point in their cycle, and this will mean less chance of certain complications arising during their surgery.
What are the benefits? Neutering prevents females coming into season, when they may become bad tempered, and
may spot blood around the house. They may also attract unwanted male attention, become pregnant or have false pregnancies. Not only this but 1 in 3 unspayed females over the age of 9 years of age will develop a womb infection
called a Pyometra. This is very serious and may prove fatal for your dog. It is not exclusively seen in older dogs, and can affect any unspayed female of any age, usually during or after their season. Not only this, but in spaying your dog you are eliminating the risk of ovarian and womb cancers, and significantly reducing their risk of developing breast cancer.
Are there any disadvantages? A spay operation involves your pet having a general anaesthetic. This does not come without it’s risks, however if your pet is young, fit and otherwise healthy, the risk is very low. Our staff are fully trained and very experienced, and we perform pre-operative checks for all patients to ensure they are well enough for surgery. You will be advised of any specific requirements your pet may need to ensure their anaesthetic risk is kept to a minimum for example, pre-anaesthetic blood tests, intraoperative IV fluids etc.
Will they have a long recovery? Part of our practice protocol is to provide two types of pain relief to your pet before their surgery. We also strongly advise oral pain relief for a few days after their surgery which will be provided for you to administer at home. Generally, our patients go home the same day and are comfortable and back to their normal selves the following day after a good nights sleep at home. We ask that you bring your pet back in to see us 2 and 10 days after their surgery so that we can monitor their progress closely and check their wound. All stitches are internal and will dissolve in time.
DOGS – Males
Unlike in female dogs where spaying before their first season is more beneficial, there is no particular time dependent advantage of neutering male dogs. Having said that, it is usually recommended to castrate male dogs before they reach full sexual maturity, at around 6 months of age. The reason for this is to remove hormonally influenced behaviours before they become learnt and more likely to be permanent aspects of your pets behaviour.
The benefits of neutering males include a reduction in urine marking, it also makes their urine less likely to scald lawns and makes it smell less strong. It also eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and greatly reduces their risk of prostate issues in the future. They will be less likely to roam in search of females, and it may reduce aggressive behaviours.
Similarly to female dogs, the procedure does require your pet to have a general anaesthetic, however, castration is a reasonably quick surgery (approx 10 minutes), and so your dog will be awake and on his feet within a short time. As in female dogs, your dog will have a pre-op check, receive pain relief, and have several post-operative check ups to ensure their progress is going well.
CATS – Queens (Females)
When queens come in to season, some owners may mistake them for being in pain. They are noisy and disruptive, and this occurs most regularly at night! If your female cat is not spayed and has access to the outdoors or another male cat, she WILL become pregnant, even if the Tom is a sibling. They can become pregnant from as young as 4 months of age. It is therefore strongly recommended that you have your female kitten spayed before you let her out.
CATS – Toms (Males)
Male cats that are not castrated are smelly, may spray urine, and if they have access to outdoors, are more likely to fight with other cats. This means they will likely suffer injuries, develop cat bite abscesses, and are at very high risk of contracting Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), and/or the feline equivalent of HIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). It is therefore recommended that you castrate your male cat.
Uterine adenocarinoma (womb cancer ), is surprisingly common in female rabbits. We strongly advise that all female rabbits are spayed.
Female Guinea Pigs are commonly prone to polycystic ovaries, and so spaying is encouraged. Not only this but the pelvis of female guinea pigs becomes less flexible after 6 months of age and so their birth canal can become too narrow for babies to pass through. They may therefore be unable to give birth naturally after this age and will often require a caesarian.
Female ferrets must either have access to a vasectomised male or be used for breeding as they can become anaemic and die. Yes, that is not an exaggeration. If a female ferret comes in to season and is not mated with a male, she will continue to produce female hormones (oestrogens), which will lead to severe anaemia developing. If you are not going to breed from your female ferret and want to avoid this, you must provide access to a vasectomised male. Alternatively, there is an injection available, the “Jill Jab”, which if given at the right time, will stop your female ferret from coming in to season. Spaying is an option, however, this has been linked to other hormonal problems such as Adrenal Gland disease. Book in with one of our Vets to discuss your options to help you decide which option is best for you and your ferret.
If you have any questions or require any further information, please book an appointment online or by calling 01325 308 000