You'll find everything you need to know about desexing you pet here!
What is Desexing?
Desexing your pet is a surgical procedure that is performed to prevents them from producing unwanted/unexpected litters. In male animals this procedure is commonly referred to as a castration (removal of testicles) and in female animals as speying (removal of ovaries & uterus). It is the most frequently performed small animal surgery by our veterinarians with your furry family member usually only staying with us for the day.
When is the best time to get my pet desexed?
There is no single answer for this question. Generally we recommend between 5 and 6 months of age as this is just before females have their first heat cycle and before most males will start exhibiting hormone related behaviours.
One exception to this recommendation is the large and giant breeds of dogs (eg. Golden retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherds, St. Bernards, Great Danes to name a few). The reason for this is that these breeds do not stop growing until they are much older. It doesn’t mean that we can’t do them at this age but that we are also happy to let them complete more of their growth first.
If you miss the recommended desexing window for your pet, don’t worry! It is never too late to desex your pet. There may be other precautions we recommend taking to make surgery as safe as possible and we will discuss these with you at the time of booking or on admission of your pet in our clinic.
Can my pet be desexed when in season?
In dogs we do try to avoid speying a bitch when in season. There are many reasons behind this including increased blood flow to the uterus and tissue is much more friable and more likely to tear. As a result we do recommend waiting until 4 weeks after the bitch stops bleeding to allow everything to settle down. We can spey them whilst in season but due to the higher risks associated with the surgery and increased length of surgery (due to more blood vessels to tie off) there is a surcharge applied.
In cats, we generally recommend speying at a convenient time. While the same scenarios that occur in dogs (increase blood flow etc.) apply it is on a much smaller scale. The other main reason for speying cats when in season is that cats (unlike dogs) are induced ovulators. This means that no egg is release from the ovary unless the female cat (queen) mates. If not mated, the queen is in season again in 1- 3 weeks. The behaviour of a queen in season can very quickly cause annoyance and distress to their owners!
Can my pet be desexed when pregnant?
Again this is not a simple answer. In early pregnancy speying a cat or dog is very similar to desexing when in season. As the pregnancy progresses, the risk of complications during and post surgery increases. If you think your dog or cat is pregnant, please give one of our friendly vets a call as they would be very happy to discuss your pets situation with you.
What are the benefits of desexing my pet?
- No unwanted litters to contribute to the vast number of stray animals euthanized every year.
- Much more cost effective than dealing with the complications of pregnancy and birth which can run into the thousands of dollars if an after-hours caesarean is required.
- Preventing the “heat” cycle in females – they can be quite messy!
- Reducing the risk of mammary (breast) cancer and preventing pyometra (infection of the uterus) in females
- Preventing testicular cancer (as these are removed!) and reducing prostatic disease in males (so much so that we often recommend castration as part of the treatment for prostatic disease!)
- Desexed animals are less prone to wandering, especially males.
- Desexed animals often live a longer and healthier life
- Reduced council registration fees (much kinder on the hip pocket!)
- Desexed cats are much less likely to display undesirable behaviours such as urine spraying
What are some of the unwanted side effects of desexing?
- As hormones influence an animal’s metabolism we do find that the large majority of desexed animals do put on weight. It is something that we all need to keep monitoring as our pets can also develop serious health issues if they are overweight!!
- A small number of female desexed dogs end up developing urinary incontinence at some point in their lives post desexing. The onset of this varies greatly but if this happens speak to your vet as there are things we can do to manage this.
Some common misnomers about desexing!
- Desexing does not affect your pet’s personality in any way other than potentially being a little calmer and less aggressive.
- There will be no change in how protective your pet is of their territory. Their home is still their home and the instinct to defend it will still be present.
- Females do not need to have a litter before being speyed – in general it is better for females to be desexed before they come on heat for the first time.
- Desexing is a painful procedure but to combat this and ensure your pets comfort we administer pain relief both before and after surgery.
- Please contact us on (03) 5779 1754 to book your pet in for their operation.
- If your pet is dirty please bath them the day prior to surgery as they cannot be washed while they have stitches in place.
- Please do not feed your pet after 9pm the night before their operation as like humans they need to have an empty stomach for their anaesthetic. They can have water through the night.
- We will offer you the option of your pet having a drip whilst they are anaesthetised and the option of a pre anaesthetic blood test. The benefits of these and associated costs will be explained on admission.
- Your vet will perform a thorough clinical examination of your pet before any medications/anaesthetics are administered so that we can minimise the risks as much as possible.
- We will discharge your pet at the end of the day back into your care. At this time your vet will go through post-operative care and provide you with a handout detailing things to look out for.
- Please follow our advice to make your pets recovery as smooth as possible. This includes administering the pain relief medication they are sent home with.
- Please check your pet’s incision at least daily for any abnormalities.
- Please contact us if you think your pet is licking or scratching at their incision. They may need the “cone of shame”
- Please ensure you book post-operative revisits as we have discussed with you during your pets discharge as they are an important part of the entire process.
If you have any concerns or questions before or after your pet is desexed with us, please call us on (03) 5779 1754 to discuss them.