It can be hard to decide whether or not to neuter your dog. Here are the facts about neutering to help you understand the procedure and to help you make an informed decision.
Castration is the removal of the testicles. It is carried out to prevent unwanted breeding and for behavioural reasons. The best effects are seen if a dog is castrated at an early age. Our practice policy is to castrate dogs at 6 months of age (6-9 months with large breeds).
There are many health and behavioural reasons to have your dog castrated. These include:
Sometimes males can have one or both testicles retained (cryptorchidism). Usually one testicle is within the scrotum and the other is retained within the abdomen. It is advisable to castrate dogs with retained testicles because they have a high risk of developing cancer. The condition is usually inherited so we do not recommend breeding from an animal with a retained testicle.
The procedure is often referred to as spaying or ovariohysterectomy. It is the surgical removal of both ovaries and the uterus to the level of the cervix. Spaying should be considered in all bitches not required for breeding.
Bitches which are not neutered frequently suffer from:
All of these can be prevented by neutering at an early age.
The main disadvantage of spaying is that there is a tendency to put on weight – this is easily controlled with the correct dietary management. There is a small chance of spayed bitches developing urinary incontinence, a readily treatable condition. Rarely there are changes in coat texture after spaying.
Our practice policy is to perform the procedure at 6 months of age (6-9 months in giant breeds) as it is surgically easier and recovery is more rapid in young animals.
Some vets will advise letting the bitch have one season before spaying but our practice policy is to spay before the first season. There is no evidence to suggest that there are any advantages in letting them have a season and you are increasing the chances of unwanted pregnancy, false pregnancy and mammary tumours by doing so.
Ideally, spaying should not be performed during oestrus (when on heat/in season) or during a false pregnancy. If a bitch has had a season, the best time to carry out the operation is eight weeks or longer after the season has ended.
Cats become sexually mature and therefore are able to breed from the age of 5-8 months. Neutering (castrating or spaying) your cat not only prevents unwanted pregnancies occurring but also prevents unwanted behaviour and reduces the risk of certain diseases.
Neutering a female cat involves removal of both ovaries and the uterus under a general anaesthetic. Although we can spay female cats at any age, there is no benefit to the cat to either have a season or a litter of kittens before she is spayed. We therefore recommend spaying female cats prior to their first season i.e. at 4-6 months of age.
An area of hair is clipped off the underside of the cat and a small incision is made in the skin. This is stitched up again afterwards with dissolvable stitches. The day after the operation, she should be very lively again.
Neutering a male cat involves the removal of both testicles under a general anaesthetic.
Castration will prevent the cat from being able to breed and so prevents unwanted pregnancies. Non-castrated males have a tendency to roam, fight with other cats and to mark their territory by spraying urine (often indoors). A cat which roams and fights is much more likely to contract infectious diseases such as FIV (feline ‘AIDS’) and FeLV (feline leukaemia virus). Male cats can be castrated at any time but we recommend 4-6 months of age as the ideal time. Undesirable behaviour can be more difficult to alter if cats are neutered when they are older.
The operation involves making a small incision in each side of the scrotum which is left to heal afterwards with no stitches. The day after the operation, he should be very lively again.
Why should I microchip my pet?
Microchipping is recognised internationally as the most effective way of permanently identifying your dog or cat. Collars and discs may fall off or be removed but a microchip is in place for life.
What is a microchip?
The microchip is little larger than a grain of rice. It is encased in the same substance used to coat human pacemakers to help prevent rejection. The microchip is inserted into the loose skin on the back of the dog or cat’s neck in a similar way to vaccination. It causes the animal minimal discomfort and is a quick and easy process.
Each microchip carries your pet’s own unique number. This is entered into a national database along with your pet’s details and your name, address and contact numbers.
When an electronic scanner is passed over your pet, the microchip number is read and displayed on the scanner. By contacting the database with this number, your details can be given out to reunite you and your pet if you are separated.
The scanners are used by all agencies associated with lost and found pets, including animal welfare agencies, veterinary practices and dog wardens.
The Pet Travel Scheme
Having your dog or cat chipped is a prerequisite of the Pet Travel Scheme, enabling you to take them abroad with you.
Your pet must be microchipped before we can give the necessary Rabies vaccine required by the scheme.
How can I get my pet microchipped?
We can microchip your pets during any routine visit to the practice. Kittens or puppies can be chipped at the time of first or second vaccination or a separate appointment can be made with a vet or a nurse. Alternatively, microchipping can take place when your pet is neutered (castrated or spayed).
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