Desexing or neutering your pet is a surgical procedure that prevents them from being able to reproduce. In male pets it is commonly referred to as “castration”, and in female pets as “spaying”.This is the most frequent surgery performed by our vets, and generally your pet is home by the evening of surgery.

Recent research has modified some of our tradtiional views about desexing, particularly regarding larger breeds of dogs. (See separate article). Little has changed in regard to advice for cat desexing.

The most common age to desex your pet is around 6 months, however they are never too old to be desexed. 

There are many benefits to desexing your pet around this age. They include:

  • Preventing unwanted litters, which can be very costly, and may add to the already overwhelming number of stray animals that are put down each year
  • Prevention of testicular cancer and prostate disease in males, and it can help prevent pyometra (infection of the uterus) and mammary tumours (breast cancer) in females
  • Stopping the “heat” cycle in females 
  • Decreasing aggression towards humans and other animals, especially in males
  • Being less prone to wander, especially in males
  • Reduction of council registration fees

There is dicussion of the potential benefits of later desexing in a separate article on this website.

What to do before and after surgery

Before surgery:

  • If you are unsure about timing and whether to desex your pet, please make an appoitment with a veterinarian to discuss the best individual plan for your pet. This may be done at a vaccination or other visit.
  • Make a booking for your pet's operation. Where we have never seen the patient before, we like to have a pre-admission visit to check general halth and make sure you understand what we are doing and have your questions answered.
  • If your pet is a dog, you can wash them the day before surgery as they are then unable to be washed after until the stitches are removed.
  • You can give you pet an evening meal as normal the day prior to surgery, but do not leave food out overnight. Water should be freely available to your pet until 8am on the day of surgery.
  • A blood test may be performed prior to surgery to check vital organ function.
  • The vet will perform a thorough physical examination before administering an anaesthetic.
  •  Intravenous fluid therapy is required during most types of surgery. This will be discussed with you prior to the procedure.
  • To ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible, all pets receive pain relief as part of the desexing procedure, and we may prescribe medication for you to administer at home for a few days after the procedure.

After Surgery:

  • Keep your pet restrained and quiet as the effects of anaesthetic can take some time to wear off completely.
  • Keeping them quiet is also essential to allow the wound to heal.
  • Food and water should be limited to small portions only on the night of surgery.
  • Follow any dietary instructions that the vet has provided.
  • Ensure all post-surgical medications (if any) are administered as per the label instructions.
  • Ensure your pet’s rest area is clean to avoid infection.
  • Check the incision at least twice daily for any signs of infection or disruption (e.g. bleeding, swelling, redness or discharge). Contact the vet immediately if any of these occur. Do not wait to see if they will spontaneously resolve.
  • Prevent your pet from licking or chewing the wound. For most pets this is not a problem. If thre is a tendency to lick excessively we can discuss options including the use of a cone-shaped collar to assist. Excesive licking or chewing can damage the surgical wound or sutures and lead to problems..
  • Ensure you return to us on time for routine post-operative check-ups and removal of stitches (in most cases at no further cost).