Neutering Your Pet

Kapi-Mana News Pet Health Column Article for 15 January 2013

Written by Dr Ian Schraa, 15/01/2013

This is the time of year when, if you do not want your pet to breed and have puppies or kittens, to get you pet neutered.

Neutering or desexing is the general term we use for the surgical procedures that stop your pet from be able to breed. This applies to both males and females. With females we often use the term spaying, which is just a lot easier to say than ovario-hysterectomy, which is the actual term for the surgery we perform on females. The surgery we perform on males is a castration operation, not a vasectomy.

Unless you want to specifically use your pet for breeding most vets recommend neutering, simply because there is an over population of unwanted cats and dogs in New Zealand and thousands are euthanased every year because there are too many.

If you do not want your pet neutered but you also don’t want them to breed then you need to lock them up when they are on heat, or cycling, if females and manage them if they are males.

Cats particularly are excellent at breeding as females’ cycle continuously until they are pregnant and males will constantly fight for these available females.

So your cat, if unspayed, is highly likely to get pregnant unless you do one of three things;

  • Lock her permanently indoors
  • Put her on the pill (the cat version)
  • Get her spayed (also called neutered, de-sexed or fixed)

The same applies for dogs, but at least most female dogs only come on heat twice a year.

The best time to neuter pets is between 5-6 months of age, when they are old enough to handle the anaesthetics used for the surgery well, and they are big enough not to lose body heat as readily during and after surgery.

We recommend spaying female dogs before their first heat, which usually occurs at about 6-9 months of age depending on the breed. This change in recommendation occurred about 10 years ago, after excellent research into this showed the benefits of spaying before the first heat outweighed any concerns resulting from doing it after the heat.

The surgery itself, although routine for vets, is a major, once-in-a-lifetime operation for your pet. We, as a BestPractice accredited clinic, use separate sterile operating theatres, the best anaesthetics for the safest care, and pain relief both before and after surgery.

Talk to your vet if you have any questions regarding neutering but certainly consider it as a responsible pet owner.

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