The benefit of neutering

January 30 2014

Many people bring in new puppies and kittens to see us at this time of year. A new arrival is very exciting.

Many people bring in new puppies and kittens to see us at this time of year. A new arrival is very exciting. 

Something we always discuss with pet owners is neutering. We take the opportunity to discuss this when the pet is young, so that it can be carried out while the pet is likely to be free from any health problems - around six months old. 

Neutering has many benefits. Rescue centres are full of unwanted puppies and kittens. Neutering reduces the chance of adding to the numbers of pets who can’t find homes. It takes a lot of hard work and time to bring a litter of puppies or kittens up, and there can be unforeseen costs - for example if your pet should need a caesarian. Finding good owners for the youngsters can be tricky too. Many cats get pregnant when they are younger than six months old, and can get pregnant within a few weeks of having already had a litter of kittens.

There are also health benefits to neutering. Any female dog who is left un-neutered (or “un-spayed”) is at risk of developing a pyometra. This is a condition where the uterus or womb becomes infected. This is a life-threatening situation and requires emergency surgery. Antibiotics and other medical treatment are almost always ineffective. Older dogs are most at risk, but we have treated dogs as young as three years old at the surgery in the last year. Some studies show as many as one in four dogs will get this condition. 

Emergency surgery is expensive and is associated with several risks, in certain situations, it can be fatal. So neutering your dog young means this will never become a problem. 

The other benefits for female dogs include a large reduction in the chance of developing mammary (breast) cancers - up to one in 35 dogs will be affected - but this is significantly reduced in spayed dogs.

In male cats, we recommend neutering for a few reasons - un-neutered male cats will often spray (scent mark) inside the home, which is quite unpleasant. They tend to stray and fight with other cats more - this puts them at risk of being involved in accidents on the road, and they are much more likely to develop serious diseases like feline AIDS if they fight.

Male dogs can be castrated from six months old. This reduces the risk of prostate problems and certain cancers later in life. It can also help with behavioural issues and unwanted sexual behaviours such as “humping”! Some dogs become quite strong-willed in adolescence, and neutering before this happens can have huge advantages.

In general, we don’t see any negative effects of neutering. Many people worry about alterations in a pet’s character - what we often hear is of a more friendly or people-orientated change! If you have any specific worries or questions please feel free to discuss it with one of our team.

 New this year - we are now including some pain relief to go home with, within the price of our neutering. We are one of the only practices in Bristol to offer this. We feel strongly that for a surgical procedure, it is important that pets are pain-free at home after the operation. So instead of the optional extra that it was before, it is now all included!