What is neutering?
Neutering is a general term for castrating a male dog or spaying a female dog.
Spaying a female dog
Spaying is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus commonly referred to as ‘neutering’. Performed as a routine operation under general anaesthetic, the patient is usually admitted in the morning and is collected later the same day or the following morning.
Why are female dogs spayed?
The primary reason for spaying is to prevent unwanted puppies. Other benefits include:
- Spayed bitches (especially if spayed before their first season) are over 100 times less likely to develop mammary tumours.
- Exercise – a spayed bitch can be exercised off the lead safely; where as an un-neutered bitch in season will attract male dogs’ attention. This can result in mismating and fights, so the bitch must be kept on a lead at all times.
- Un-neutered bitches come into season once or twice a year and produce a bloody discharge that can stain the animal’s coat or your carpets and furniture!
- Spayed bitches are healthier and will have fewer problems such as pyometra (a life threatening infection of the womb), false pregnancies, mammary tumours etc.
However there can be disadvantages:
Spayed bitches have a reduced metabolic rate so they need less food. If their diet is altered after surgery there will be no weight increase. Clients are advised to check their dog’s weight 2 months after surgery when dietary advice can be given if necessary.
Unless you want to use a female dog for breeding purposes, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of having your dog spayed.
A spayed dog has fewer medical problems, lives longer on average, does not add to the pet overpopulation and can make a more loyal, loving and rewarding pet.
Castrating a male dog
Neutering of the male dog (or castration) gives many important health benefits to the dog. The most commonly known of these is a lowering of the incidence of prostate disease.
However, there are a number of other Health benefits to having your dog castrated.
Some tumours that grow around the anus are hormonally dependent and their incedence is greatly reduced by neutering.
Another condition which neutering helps reduce is called a perineal hernia. This is a very distressing condition, requiring major reconstructive surgery.
Disease of the testicles such as cancer and infection are completely prevented by castration. Cancer of the testicles is not uncommon in normally developed dogs and nearly always occurs if one or both testicles are undescended.
Abcesses can occasionally occur in the testicles and the nearby epididiymus and can be very difficult to treat, often requiring extensive surgery and prolonged courses of medication.
After castration dogs are less likely to roam and seek out bitches. This obviously reduces the risk of injury (and expensive insurance claims) from road traffic accidents. It also means fewer unwanted puppies born each year. Aggression towards other male dogs is less likely to be a problem and a neutered dog is easier to train and less likely to try to dominate an owner. Behavioural benefits are more likely to be seen if the operation is done at a young age - having a dog castrated will not change his basic character.
Certain ingrained behaviour patterns are less likely to be improved by castration - these include serious aggression towards dogs and people, especially in dogs which are more than two years of age by the time the operation is carried out. Aggression towards bitches is unlikely to be changed by castration, and the operation will not settle down a boisterous or lively young dog or one that destroys things when left alone.
Points to remember
- Castration will make a dog more contented and less likely to stray.
- Diseases of the testicles, such as cancer and infection are completely prevented.
- The likelyhood of prostate disease, some tumours and perineal hernia is reduced.
- Castration will not change a dog's basic charater, it will not `break his spirit'.
- Neutering means a dog is less likely to get into trouble by straying.
Neutering a female cat
Spaying or ‘neutering’ is the surgical removal of both the ovaries and uterus of a female cat. Performed as a routine surgical operation under general anaesthetic, generally the procedure is performed through a small incision on your cat’s left flank.
We recommend female cats are spayed at approximately 6 months of age. If your cat has recently had kittens it can be spayed after the kittens are weaned.
Why are female cats spayed?
The primary reason for spaying is to prevent unwanted kittens from being produced. Other benefits include:
Female cats, once sexually mature, are triggered to come into season, or call (i.e. be receptive to a male cat), by the photoperiod or length of daylight. This period of calling usually lasts from March to September for outdoor cats, but indoor cats exposed to artificial electric light can call all year round! Calling behaviour includes:
A change in behaviour i.e. a friendly cat may become unsociable or an unfriendly cat become more attention seeking.
Strange vocalisation which is often mistaken for the cat being in pain. This can go on through the night and is very disturbing for the owner.
Neutering a male cat
Castration is the surgical removal of the testicles. Performed as a routine operation under general anaesthetic, the patient is usually admitted in the morning and is collected later the same day. We recommend castrating cats at 5 months of age.
What are the main reasons for castrating cats?
The primary reason for castration is to prevent unwanted kittens from being produced.
Other benefits include:
Male cats roam, often quite far from home, seeking out females in heat. This roaming increases the dangers of road accidents, leads to fighting and consequent cat bite abscesses and the transfer of fatal infectious diseases. Neutered males are statistically proven to have a lower incidence of feline aids and leukaemia.
A male cat marks out his territory by spraying urine. This scent marking is done by the cat backing up to an object, raising his tail and squirting urine onto the vertical surface of the object. The urine of a male cat has a very strong and offensive odour. Spraying is often done in the house, particularly if there is more than one cat in the household. Castrated cats will not usually mark territory and certainly do not have foul smelling urine.
Relationship to owners
Entire male cats can make good pets, but the owner is never the primary focus of their lives. A male cat likes to have a home and a kind owner, but will desert all these comforts for a female or if another male enters his territory. In fact the intact male usually only comes home to eat and sleep! Castrated cats, especially those neutered at 6 months, become more docile, affectionate and playful as the owner becomes the primary focus of their lives.
Unless you want to use a male cat for breeding purposes there are few advantages and a lot of disadvantages to keeping an entire male cat.
A castrated cat has fewer medical problems, eats less, lives much longer on average and does not add to the already over abundant cat population.