As well as stopping unwanted breeding, there are many good reasons to have your pet desexed. So, the short answer is probably yes. However this depends on a number of factors including the species, sex and age of your pet. Of course, you also need to decide whether or not you would like to breed your pet in the future. The aim of this leaflet is to explain the advantages and disadvantages, and also to dispel a few myths about desexing.
The terms "desexing" or "neutering" are used to describe the surgical procedures performed on animals to stop them from breeding. In males this involves the surgical removal of the testicles, leaving the penis and scrotum intact. This is also referred to as "castration". In females, the surgery involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus (ovaro-hysterectomy). This procedure is commonly referred to as a "spay". At Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital we use the best possible anaesthetic, surgical and pain relief techniques to ensure your pet's safety.
We generally recommend that dogs and cats be desexed at 5-6 months of age (females before their first season). There is no maximum age, so it's never too late, but there are definite advantages to having it done at this age.
We can also desex other species including rabbits and ferrets, and there are good medical reasons for doing so.
Stopping unwanted breeding is the most obvious reason for having your pet desexed. Having a litter of puppies or kittens can be a lot of work, and a lot of expense. It's even more expensive if something goes wrong. Aside from desexing, there is no safe contraceptive or "morning-after" treatment available for dogs and cats. So unless you're serious about breeding, it really is better for both yourself and your pet to have them desexed. If you are serious about breeding, we invite you to discuss it with us first, so that you know exactly what's involved.
Preventing unwanted breeding is also one of the main aims of the Companion Animals Act. There are a lot of unwanted dogs and cats already in our community, and many of these either become feral and kill our wildlife, or else have to be destroyed by the pound or RSPCA. To encourage desexing, these laws give large discounts on lifetime registration fees for desexed dogs.
If you have proof of desexing, lifetime registration costs just $40.00 or $15.00 for pensioners. If however your pet is not desexed, council registration costs $150.00. Also, if you allow your pet to breed, then the Act requires that you pay to have all the puppies or kittens microchipped - even if you are planning to give them away!
Desexing can prevent many of the behavioural problems that occur in dogs and cats. These are problems that occur either directly as a result of the reproductive cycle, or because of "dominance" or "territorial" behaviour, where your pet wants to demonstrate his/her dominance over other animals (and people!) around them. Desexed pets are often easier to train. These are some of the problems that can be prevented (or at least reduced) by desexing:
Dogs (females) come into "season" once every 6-12 months. This is where their body prepares for mating and pregnancy. During this time they will have a bloody vaginal discharge for about 2-3 weeks. They may also try to get out of your yard to mate. Male dogs will try even harder to escape and get to her if they can smell a bitch coming into season in your neighbourhood. This can lead to unwanted pregnancies, as well as fights, car accidents, lost dogs and illnesses from exposure to other animals. After being in season, bitches may also go through phantom pregnancies, which can be distressing in some cases.
Cats have a breeding season that lasts from about July to March (but sometimes longer) where they will come into season once every 3 weeks. During this time, cats can seem to cry & howl almost constantly and behave strangely. They frequently fight during this time, and the noise of cats fighting or mating (especially at night) can be pretty awful!
Urine Spraying and Urine Marking
Mostly a problem with males, this is where tomcats spray urine over the walls in your house, and dogs cock their leg on everything in sight. This is part of their procedure for marking territory, and can create a horrible smell if done in inappropriate places.
There are a number of common illnesses (many of them life-threatening) that can be prevented by desexing.
There are no real disadvantages to desexing your cat, nor to castrating dogs. Occasionally, spayed female dogs may experience urinary incontinence after desexing. This is where she leaks urine in her sleep. Incontinence occurs in only a small percentage of cases and is thought to be caused by a lack of oestrogen hormone. If it does occur, it can usually be well controlled with medication. We do not consider that the small risk of incontinence should outweigh the many advantages of having your dog spayed.
Desexing requires one day in hospital and a general anaesthetic. The costs vary according to the species, sex, size and age of the pet. For females, it costs a bit more if she is already pregnant or in season. If you would like a quote, please give us a call. The costs of desexing are partly offset by the large discounts given on council registration fees for desexed dogs and cats.
If you would like more information about desexing, or about any of the other issues discussed in this leaflet, please phone us on 9829-1947, or come in and discuss it in person.
We also have another leaflet "Getting your pet desexed" that describes exactly what's involved in the procedure.