Advice on neutering your dog or cat

Neutering your Cat

Why should I have my cat neutered?

Male (Castration)

Castration is primarily performed to prevent the siring of unwanted litters. It offers a number of other advantages, particularly if performed at an early age. Following puberty, the male cat develops a number of “undesirable” behavioural changes. He will become territorial and mark areas by spraying urine (potentially including indoors). As he matures the urine develops a particularly strong, lingering odour which is very difficult to remove. In addition, he will start to enlarge his territory by straying ever further from the house, particularly at night.

For this reason “entire” males are at increased risk of road traffic accidents and also commonly fight other cats. Bite wounds from fights cannot only lead to abcesses and possible septicaemia, but also enable transmission of the FIV and FeLV viruses - which can cause AIDS-like syndromes and cancers in cats.

An important point to note is the longer a tomcat is left to spray, wander and fight, the less likely that neutering will stop it. This is because from an initial sexual drive it becomes a learnt behaviour which no longer needs sex hormones to be present to continue as a pattern.

Female (Spaying)

Most obviously, spaying prevents unplanned litters. It also stops “calling” behaviour which from puberty occurs approximately 1 week in every 3 throughout the breeding season (usually January to September). Calling manifests as loud and persistent crying, and frequent rubbing and rolling on the floor. Such behaviour and the scent of a calling queen will attract pestering tomcats from miles around. Spaying eliminates the risk of uterine or ovarian disease, and may reduce the future risk of mammary tumours.

Are there any adverse affects?

In the vast majority of cases no adverse effects are noted following neutering. However, some neutered animals have a tendency to put on excess weight by storing surplus fat. Such pets require a balanced diet and should not be over-fed.

In certain cats, notably Siamese, the hair that grows back over an operation site may be noticeably darker, due to a difference in the skin temperature. This darker patch will usually grow out with the following moult as the hair is replaced. If you would prefer us to perform a mid-line incision for this reason, please indicate this on the admission form.

What does the Operation involve?

Neutering is a “day procedure” with animals admitted in the morning and going home later the same day.

Castration and spaying are both performed under general anaesthesia, which in young healthy animals carries a low risk. We ensure that any potential problems are minimised by physically checking your cat prior to anaesthesia and using the most up-to-date anaesthetic medications and techniques. Qualified staff monitor your pet throughout the procedure.

In male cats, both of the testes are removed in their entirety through a small incision in the scrotum. Stitches are rarely required in the skin.

In female cats, the operation is performed through a relatively small incision made either in the flank, or in the midline of the abdomen to enable removal of both ovaries and the uterus. Whenever possible dissolvable stitches are placed under the skin. There is no need to remove these stitches and the cat is less likely to interfere with the wound.

Neutering your Dog

Why should I have my dog neutered?

Neutering removes the sexual urge from your dog and also means it will be “sterile”. Surgical neutering of dogs (castration) and bitches (spaying) involves removal of reproductive tissue and is permanent. Temporary or semi permanent control can alternatively be effected by the use of certain drugs (please book an appointment with one of our vets if you would like more information).

If you do not intend to breed from your dog there are undoubted advantages to neutering both in the male and the female.

Male (Castration)

  • Sexual behaviour is reduced so that if the dog gets the scent of a bitch in heat he is unlikely to show any interest and “wander”
  • Eliminates the risk of testicular disease
  • Markedly reduces risk of prostatic disease
  • Reduces risk of some types of tumour
  • Can improve some behavioural issues

Female (Spaying)

  • Prevents unwanted pregnancy
  • Prevents “heats” or “seasons” (oestrus), avoiding need for confinement every 6 months or so
  • Prevents false pregnancy ( a hormonal condition which can be distressing to bitches/owners)
  • Eliminates the risk of uterine or ovarian disease
  • Reduces the risk of mammary tumours
  • Can improve some behavioural issues

Owners are often tempted to have at least one litter from a bitch due to a misconception that this will improve her temperament. There is no scientific evidence to support this.

What are the disadvantages?

It is a common fallacy that neutered dogs will become fat and lazy. Although in general terms a neutered animal requires 10% less food than an entire animal, proper feeding of a good quality calorie appropriate diet and adequate exercise should control any problems of obesity. Remember that all service animals, Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Dogs for the Disabled are routinely neutered.

It is also untrue that the neutered dog loses “character”. In some cases neutering is carried out, both in dogs and bitches, for certain behavioural abnormalities. Dogs may become more gentle (largely due to the loss of “sexual drive”) but they lose neither their spirit nor their intelligence and are just as active as when entire.

When should I get my dog neutered?

Male dog (castration)

Dogs are usually castrated between 6-12 months of age, although the operation can be carried out at any age from 5 months upwards.

Female dog (spay)

Smaller dogs (<25kg) can be spayed from 6 months of age, prior to having a season. In larger dogs (and springer spaniels) spaying is ideally performed 4 weeks or 4 months after the first season, although it can be performed at this time interval after any subsequent season.

What is involved?

Neutering is a "day procedure" with animals admitted in the morning and going home later the same day. We will send you details regarding pre-operative care when you book the operation.

Castration and spaying are both performed under general anaesthesia, which in young healthy animals carries a low risk. We ensure that any potential problems are minimised by physically checking your dog prior to anaesthesia (with a blood profile for hidden abnormalities if you so wish) and using the most up-to-date anaesthetic medications and techniques. Qualified staff monitor your pet throughout the procedure.

A veterinary nurse will discuss post-operative care of your dog with you on collection. Most dogs
will be willing to eat within 24 hours of the operation and are getting "back to normal" within 3 days. Your dog will be provided with oral pain relief medication for this initial period. Exercise pattern will be advised on discharge - usually light lead exercise for 10-14 days. All bitch spays are sutured with dissolving stitches which are placed under the skin. There is no need for them to be removed and the dog is much less likely to interfere with the wound. Where possible, we do the same for dog castrations.

If you have any particular queries or worries we are happy to discuss them either by telephone or at a routine consultation.

Laparoscopic (Keyhole) Spays in Dogs

Laparoscopic Surgery in Animals

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive technique for viewing the internal structures of the abdomen. A laparoscope (camera) inserted through a small incision magnifies internal structures of the abdomen on a TV monitor for a more thorough examination. Additional small incisions are made to allow the use of surgical

The first keyhole laparoscopic human surgery was performed in 1985 to remove a gall bladder and since that time its use has become commonplace in human surgery. You may have had this sort of surgery yourself or know someone who has. In recent years, key-hole surgery has become available for vets to use on animals so that they too can benefit from its advantages.

Laparoscopic Spays

In recent years, laparoscopy has been adopted as a less traumatic and less painful alternative to traditional spays.

Laparoscopic spaying of bitches has a number of advantages over “traditional” spays. The entire surgery is performed through just two 1/2cm incisions rather than a much larger abdominal opening and laparoscopy allows for better visualisation of abdominal organs.

Complications such as internal bleeding, wound swelling, infection and breakdown are less likely. The procedure is far less painful for your dog so they will be much more comfortable after the operation. Recovery time is reduced and they are back to their old selves and able to exercise more quickly than with traditional surgery.

Unless the uterus is abnormal only the ovaries are removed at the surgery. The surgery can be combined with other minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques such as “gastropexy” for preventing gastric torsion in large, deep-chested and giant breed of dogs.

If you are thinking of having your bitch spayed, please discuss the benefits of keyhole surgery with us.

Advantages of Laparoscopic Spays over Traditional Surgery

  • A recent study concluded laparoscopic spays caused less surgical stress and far less postoperative pain than a traditional open surgical spay.
  • The entire surgery is performed through a few tiny incisions rather than a larger abdominal opening. Smaller incisions are less painful and reduce recovery time.
  • Laparoscopy allows for better visualization of abdominal organs.
  • Controlled incisions and internal cutting and sealing of blood vessels eliminate pain and bruising caused by the tearing of tissue associated with traditional spays.
  • In larger breeds of dog, gastropexy (fixing of the stomach to the abdominal wall) can be performed at the time of spaying. This almost entirely eliminates the risk of large and giant breed of dog developing a life-threatening gastric torsion.
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