NEUTERING

All neutering procedures are performed as day procedures.  Your pet is admitted in the morning and will usually be ready to go home between 3-5pm on the same day.

 

Dogs

 

Females

Unless a bitch is to be used for breeding we recommend that all bitches are spayed, ideally at an age of five and a half months (before they have their first season).  Neutering obviously prevents unwanted pregnancies, but there are also huge health benefits to having a bitch spayed.  These are:

  1. A spayed bitch is much less likely to develop mammary tumours later in life.  The risk of these developing is 0.05% if a bitch is spayed before the first season, 8% if she is spayed between the first and second seasons, and a massive 26% if she is spayed after the second season.  Mammary tumours can be cancerous and can spread within the body meaning that they can potentially be life-threatening.
  2. Spayed bitches cannot develop pyometra.  This is a condition where infection develops in the uterus and it becomes filled with pus.  Again this can be a life-threatening condition if left untreated.  It develops in approximately 23% of unspayed bitches.  Treatment usually involves having to spay a bitch while she is unwell, which carries a much greater risk than operating on a young, healthy animal.
  3. Avoidance of false pregnancies.  A false pregnancy can develop 6-8 weeks after a season.  An affected bitch may have a reduced appetite, show nesting behaviour, possessiveness or mothering of toys and can sometimes even become aggressive.  The body can change with development of mammary tissue and possibly production of milk.  Dogs that have had one false pregnancy are more likely to develop another at a subsequent season.

Some people are concerned about a potential increase in the risk of a bitch developing urinary incontinence if she is spayed before the first season.  There is conflicting evidence regarding this.  However, if any urinary incontinence develops it is usually mild and easily controlled with medication. The benefits of early neutering outweigh the small risk of developing urinary incontinence.

If your bitch has already had a season it is important to wait until at least a month after the end of her season (or approximately 7 weeks after the start of the season) before arranging her operation.

The procedure involves a general anaesthetic, a midline abdominal incision and full ovariohysterectomy (removal of both ovaries and the whole uterus).  An appointment is made 7 days post-operatively to check the wound and remove the skin stitches if the wound has healed.

Males

Neutering or castration of a male dog can be carried out from 5 months of age onwards and has certain health benefits.  These include:

  1. Prevention of testicular tumours.  These can be cancerous and can spread within the body, potentially having life-threatening consequences.  One type of tumour can also cause a feminisation syndrome, where your dog becomes sexually attractive to other male dogs.
  2. Reduced risk of some types of prostatic disease, in particular enlargement (hyperplasia) and infection (prostatitis).  Prostatic cancer is not affected by testosterone, so can occur in both neutered and entire male dogs.

Some recent research has found that the incidence of certain types of cancer (osteosarcoma and haemangiosarcoma) and other less serious illnesses may be increased in neutered males.  The risk is deemed to be low but in predisposed breeds there may be benefit in delaying neutering until the dog is over 1 year of age.  If you are concerned about these issues, discuss them in more detail with the vet.

Neutering will prevent testosterone-associated behaviour.  Neutered males will be less likely to exhibit urine marking behaviour and inappropriate mounting of other dogs, people or objects.  They will be less inclined to roam looking for a bitch in heat. When a dog has detected a bitch in heat he often behaves differently and many stop eating, sometimes for days! Research has shown that neutered males live longer, possibly because less are injured or killed on the roads when roaming.

While neutering a male dog can reduce testosterone-associated aggression, especially towards other dogs, this is not always the case.  Neutering is not a cure for behavioural problems.  In particular, some nervous dogs can become more rather than less aggressive after neutering.  If you are uncertain whether to proceed with neutering, discuss this with the vet.

The procedure involves a general anaesthetic and removal of both testicles through one or two small incisions.  An appointment is made 7 days post-operatively to check the wound and remove the skin stitches if the wound has healed.

Cats

Females

Unless a female cat (queen) is to be used for breeding we recommend that she is spayed at the age of 5 months (before she starts having seasons).  If left unspayed she will come into season every 3 weeks during the spring and summer months (roughly February to September) and sometimes all year round with modern electric lighting in homes.  Spaying will prevent unwanted kittens, but also has health benefits, including reduced risk of developing mammary tumours, pyometra (infection in the uterus) and false pregnancy.

The procedure involves a general anaesthetic, a left flank incision and full ovariohysterectomy (removal of both ovaries and the whole uterus).  The incision is closed with one or two absorbable stitches.

At Avalon Veterinary Clinic we also offer a cat spay through a midline incision.  This is encouraged in certain pedigree cat breeds or cats with a pale hair coat, as hair has occasionally regrown slightly darker than the clipped area.

Males

We recommend all male cats (tom cats) are neutered.  If left entire they have very strong smelling urine and will mark their territory readily, often within your home.  Neutering or castration also prevents wandering and means that cats are less likely to engage in fighting behaviour.  Therefore, neutered males are less likely to be injured or killed in road traffic accidents, suffer less fight-related injuries and are less likely spread infectious diseases such as FIV (an immunodeficiency disease caused by a similar virus to HIV in humans).

The procedure involves a general anaesthetic and removal of both testicles through two small incisions.  No skin stitches are placed and the wounds heal very quickly, usually within 7 days.

Rabbits

 

Females

Unless a rabbit is to be used for breeding we recommend that all female rabbits (does) are spayed, ideally at an age of five months (before reaching puberty).  This prevents unwanted litters.  Also, many rabbit owners are unaware, but 80% of rabbits over the age of 5 years develop a cancerous uterine growth which can spread within the body and can be life-threatening.  Although a general anaesthetic in a rabbit carries a greater risk than in a cat or a dog, if carried out with careful monitoring, pain relief and peri-operative fluids, the risk is very low.  The benefits of neutering far outweigh the risk involved.  Neutered rabbits live longer than entire rabbits.

Besides preventing uterine cancer, neutered rabbits tend to make better companions for both humans and other rabbits.  In particular, aggressive behaviour is reduced.  Neutered rabbits are also said to be easier to train, for example, to use a litter tray.

The procedure involves a general anaesthetic, a midline abdominal incision and full ovariohysterectomy (removal of both ovaries and the whole uterus).  Tissue glue rather than stitches is used in the skin as rabbits are more likely to try to remove skin stitches.  An appointment is made 7 days post-operatively to check the wound.

Males

            The main benefits of neutering a male rabbit (buck) are prevention of unwanted behaviours, in particular urine spraying and aggressive behaviours.  Neutered males make better companions.

Neutering or castration can be carried out from 5 months of age.  The procedure involves a general anaesthetic and removal of both testicles through two small incisions.  Tissue glue is used in the skin.  An appointment is made 7 days post-operatively to check the wounds.

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