This month, we would like to raise awareness of the importance of neutering pets. Although no surgery is without potential complication, we believe that the benefits to animal welfare outweigh the risks. The decision to have your pet neutered is a very personal one, and we are here to offer guidance only.
For cats, we recommend neutering all pet cats from 16 weeks, and feral or rescue cats from 12 weeks. This advice is supported by the British Veterinary Association, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and others.
Neutering cats helps to:
- reduce the number of road traffic accidents cats are involved in
- reduce the amount of cat fighting
- reduce the prevalence of diseases spread by cat fighting such as FIV
- dramatically reduce the numbers of unwanted births
A queen can give birth to around 12 kittens a year if not neutered. Cats can be neutered at any time, and the recuperation from surgery is approximately 10 days for females, and 2-3 days for males.
For male dogs, we recommend neutering at skeletal maturity. This may be 6-9 months for small breeds, and 12-18 months for large breeds. This is because the hormone testosterone plays a role in the development of bones and muscles, and larger breed puppies grow and develop more slowly. We will castrate from 6 months of age at client request. Recovery time from surgery is approximately 10 days.
The benefits of castration in dogs include:
- prevention of testicular tumours, and a reduction in the likelihood of certain prostate problems and anal tumours
- reduction in unwanted or excessive sexual behaviour such as mounting
- reduction in roaming behaviour, especially as a result of bitches in season
Owners need to be aware that neutered dogs may be more prone to weight gain, but that this is controllable with diet. Neutering dogs will not drastically change their temperament and may not solve behavioural or training problems. Castration of male dogs with fear-related or nervous aggression may not be advisable – please speak to your vet.
For bitches, we recommend neutering all bitches not intended for breeding at 3-4 months after their first season. The timing of the surgery is important: bitches should not be coming into season, or showing signs of false pregnancy at the time of surgery, as this can cause complications. Your bitch will always have a thorough examination on the day, and the operation may be postponed if necessary. Recovery time from surgery is approximately 10 days.
It is possible to spay bitches before their first season; however, please speak to your vet to discuss the pros and cons in detail.
Reasons for spaying bitches include:
- Prevention of unwanted pregnancies
- No further seasons
- Prevention of potentially life-threatening womb infections (pyometra)
- Reduction in the likelihood of mammary gland tumours
The earlier bitches are spayed, the greater the protection against mammary tumours. Ideally if you are planning on neutering your bitch, it should be carried out before their second season for this reason. Older bitches can be spayed at 3-4 months after any season.
Owners need to be aware that spayed bitches are around three times more likely than entire bitches to develop urinary incontinence later in life (approximately 1 in 5 likelihood); however, this is a treatable condition. Neutered bitches may be more prone to weight gain, but this is controllable with the correct diet and exercise.