Neutering is an operation to prevent a pet from becoming pregnant. In males the operation is called ‘castration’; in females it is called ‘spaying’. Both of these operations are performed under a general anaesthetic and recovery is usually just a few days.
When a male animal is castrated both testicles are removed. When a female animal is spayed both the ovaries and the uterus (womb) are removed (ovariohysterectomy). This means that the animal is unable to become pregnant, and will no longer come into season.
Unwanted pregnancy is highly likely in pets that are not neutered. Owners will have to deal with the responsibility, expense and worry of having to care for their pet through pregnancy, birth and the rearing of her litter. Finding good homes for the puppies or kittens can also be an enormous challenge. Every year many dogs and cats have to be put to sleep because there are more unwanted animals than there are homes available. Cats can become pregnant as young as four months old and an unneutered female cat could be responsible for up to 20,000 kittens within five years!
The benefits of neutering:
There are health benefits to neutering animals and on average, neutered pets live longer and healthier lives. As well as preventing pregnancy, neutering will prevent common diseases.
In female dogs spaying can prevent breast cancers and infections of the womb. It will also prevent her coming into season; a messy and bloody discharge lasting up to three weeks or more, occurring every six months.
Constant reproducing in female cats can lead to exhaustion as without spaying they can be in season almost continually. Un-neutered female dogs and cats can also cause an unwelcome stream of males to your door!
In male dogs castration significantly reduces prostate disease and the risk of some cancers. Dogs may be more likely to show aggression to other dogs, whether on or off the lead if they have not been castrated. For male cats, neutering also reduces their chance of catching feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), an incurable viral disease, similar to HIV in humans, most frequently from bite wounds while fighting and can only be passed from cat to cat. It may also stop them spraying an unpleasant scent to mark their territory (including indoors!).
How old should my pet be?
Both dogs and cats can be neutered from just ten weeks old, but can safely be neutered when they are older than this. Ask your vet for advice, but don’t leave it too late!
It is usual for female dogs to be spayed before their first season, at around 6 months and for some of the larger breeds it is recommended that they have one season first.
For male dogs, most breeds can be neutered from six months of age, with larger breeds of dog at a slightly later age.
Will my pet’s personality change?
No, but some unwanted behaviours may be reduced, such as roaming, mounting, fighting or urine spraying.
Won’t my dog/cat want to have a litter?
Dogs and cats do not miss having a litter. Unlike humans, they do not form a lifelong bond with their offspring.
Will my pet put on weight?
As a rough guide, a cat or dog will need around 10 per cent less food after neutering than they did. Your vet can advise you of the correct diet for your neutered pet to help avoid unwanted weight gain.
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