Desexing or neutering your pet is a surgical procedure that prevents them from being able to reproduce. In male pets it is commonly referred to as “castration”, and in female pets as “spaying”. This is the most frequent surgery performed by veterinarians, and generally your pet is home by the evening of surgery.
The most common age to desex your pet is between 5 and 6 months. However they are never too old to be desexed, and there are still benefits to desexing your pet even when they are older.
There are many benefits to desexing your pet before 6 months of age. They include:
- Preventing unwanted litters, which can be very costly, and may add to the already overwhelming number of stray animals that are euthanased each year.
- Prevention of testicular cancer and prostate disease in males, and it can help prevent pyometra (infection of the uterus) and mammary tumours (breast cancer) in females.
- Stopping the “heat” cycle in females.
- Decreasing aggression towards humans and other animals, especially in males.
- Reducing their urge to wander or to look for ways to escape.
- Living a longer and healthier life.
- Reduction of council registration fees.
Common questions about desexing
“Will desexing affect my pet’s personality?”
Your pet will retain their pre-operation personality, possibly with the added bonus of being slightly calmer and less aggressive.
“Should my female have one litter first?”
No – it is actually better for her not to have any litters before being spayed. Her risk of developing breast cancer increases if she is allowed to go through her first heat. And some females can become more aggressive after having a litter.
“Will it cause my pet to become fat?”
Your pet’s metabolism may be slowed due to hormonal changes after desexing. However this is easily managed by adjusting feeding and ensuring adequate exercise. There is no reason a desexed pet cannot be maintained at a good weight.
“Is desexing painful?”
As with all surgery, there is some tenderness immediately after the procedure, but most pets will recover very quickly. Your veterinarian will administer pain relief prior to and during surgery, and you will be given some pain relief medication to use at home for the first few days after surgery. In many cases, your pet will likely need some encouragement to take it easy!
“Will my dog lose its “guard dog”instinct?”
No, your dog will be just as protective of their territory as before the surgery.
What to do before and after surgery
- Make a booking for your pet's operation.
- If your pet is a dog, wash them the day before surgery as they are unable to be washed after until the stitches are removed.
- Do not give your pet any food after 8pm the night before the operation and do not give them any water after 8am on the day of surgery.
- Bring your pet into the clinic at the organised time for an admission appointment with the nurse. During this time, the nurse and veterinarian will talk you through the procedure, discuss options to reduce the risk of surgery such as fluids during surgery or pre-anaesthetic bloods tests, and discuss any other procedures that are requested, such as microchipping.
- A blood test may be performed prior to surgery to check vital organ function. This is highly recommended to check that your pet can process the anaesthetic easily.
- Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination before administering an anaesthetic.
- If you are given the option of having intravenous fluids in place during the surgery, this is highly recommended. These fluids help maintain your pet's blood pressure during the anaesthetic, as well as producing a smoother recovery, and providing a quick access point in any emergency.
- To ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible, all pets will receive pain relief prior to and during the desexing procedure. You will also be given some pain relief to use at home with your pet for a few days after the surgery.
- Keep your pet restricted and quiet as the effects of the anaesthetic can take some time to wear off completely. Pets may lose their normal 'street-sense' for the first 48 hours after the anaesthetic, so please keep them confined for their own safety.
- Keeping your pet quiet is also essential to allow the surgery wound to heal. Try to avoid running, jumping and stretching of the surgical site.
- Food and water should be limited to small portions only on the night after surgery. Your pet may feel a bit nauseous after the anaesthetic, and may vomit if fed too much.
- Follow any dietary instructions that your vet has provided.
- Ensure all post-surgical medications (if any) are administered as instructed on the label.
- Ensure your pet’s rest area is clean to avoid infection.
- Check the incision at least twice daily for any signs of infection or disruption, including bleeding, swelling, redness or discharge. Contact your veterinarian immediately if these symptoms appear. Do not wait to see if they will spontaneously resolve.
- Prevent your pet from licking or chewing the wound. Special cone-shaped 'buster' collars assist with this problem, or bitter sprays can be used around the site. A single chew can remove the careful stitching with disastrous effects.
- Ensure you return on time for routine post-operative check-ups and removal of stitches.
If you have any concerns before or after your pet has been desexed, please call us immediately.