What is neutering?
Neutering – also known as castrating or spaying is an operation carried out under general anaesthetic by a Veterinary Surgeon to remove the reproductive organs in both male and females. This stops your pet from having any unwanted litters and can also prevent some serious illnesses.
- Castration is the removal of the testicles of males.
- Spaying is the removal of the ovaries and/or uterus of the female.
Should I get my pet neutered?
Neutering has many health benefits for your pet including the removal of the risk of associated cancers and pyometra (infection of the womb).
It will prevent any unwanted litters and the costs and responsibility of finding them new homes. There are thousands of unwanted pets in rescues across the UK, by getting your pet neutered you are helping to reduce this number.
Neutering your dog
Benefits of neutering a female dog
- Eliminates “seasons/heats”, including the associated vulval swelling & discharge, attractiveness to male dogs and behavioural changes.
- Eliminates the risk of pregnancy and “phantom/false pregnancy”.
- Eliminates the risk of pyometra, which is a serious womb infection occurring a few weeks after a “season”. Around 25% of older, entire female dogs will get a pyometra. This can be a life-threatening illness unless treated promptly by performing an emergency spay procedure.
- Eliminates or reduces the risk of breast cancers depending on the age at which the dog is neutered. Breast cancers occur in around 15% of entire female dogs (up to 40% in some breeds) and just under half of canine breast cancers are malignant. Breast cancers are very unusual in dogs that have had less than 2 seasons before they were neutered. Female dogs being neutered beyond 2.5 years of age have the same risk of breast cancer as dogs left entire.
- Eliminates the risk of ovarian or uterine cancer, which can affect around 12% of entire female dogs.
When to neuter a female dog:
The onset of “seasons” is associated with the risk of unwanted pregnancy, undesirable discharges and the requirement for restricted, “lead only” exercise. If your over-riding concern is to avoid these issues, then spaying before the first “season” may be the priority.
The greatest beneficial effects for preventing breast cancer appear to be when female dogs are neutered before the first or second “season”. However neutering before the first “season” may very slightly increase the risk of urinary incontinence later on in life and joint problems in larger breeds of dogs. Our current general recommendations for the age of neutering of dogs are as follows:
Small breeds 6-12 months
Medium breeds 9-12 months (after the 1st “season”)
Large breeds 12 months (after the 1st “season”)
Giant breeds 12-18 months (after the 1st “season”)
We recognise that some owners will want their dog to be spayed at 6 months, just before the first “season”, and we will continue to honour such requests. It is not recommended to spay female dogs whilst “in season” and for at least 12 weeks after they have been “in season”.
If you would like any further information please visit our website or speak to a member of our team.
Benefits of neutering a male dog
- Reduction of some undesirable behaviours such as tendencies to escape, roam and fight with other entire male dogs.
- Reduced sexual behaviours such as indoor urine marking and discharges.
- Eliminates the risk of testicular tumours, which can affect up to 10% of older, entire male dogs. Testicular tumours are rarely malignant and can usually be treated by castration.
- Reduces the risk of prostatic disease. Benign prostatic hyperplasia occurs to some extent in 90% of older entire male dogs. In some cases, it can lead to blood in urine and constipation, necessitating treatment. Other entire dogs get more serious prostate infections and complex cysts. Castration is usually recommended as part of the treatment for most serious prostatic diseases encountered in entire male dogs. Prostate cancer is rare in dogs but is unresponsive to castration.
- Reduces the risk of certain hernias arising later in life.
* Please note that neutering will not calm your dog down or change any other non-related behaviour issues.
When to neuter a male dog:
Our current general recommendations for the age of neutering of dogs are as follows:
Small breeds 6-12 months
Medium breeds 12 months
Large breeds 12-18 months
Giant breeds 12-18 months
Neutering your cat
We recommend male and female cats are neutered at 4 months old, as kittens will have reached sexual maturity and are therefore capable of breeding and producing kittens themselves.
If you have more than one cat, even brothers, sisters and parents will produce kittens if they live together unneutered.
Benefits of neutering a female cat:
- Eliminates or reduces the risk of developing cancer of the womb or ovaries
- Eliminates pyometra – a serious and potentially life-threatening womb infection
- Eliminates unwanted pregnancies. Female cats can become pregnant all year long
- Eliminates 'seaons/heats', which can cause behavioural changes and stress for you cat. Females will also attract unneutered males with associated problems of spraying, fighting and 'wailing'
Benefits of neutering a male cat:
- Reduces the risk to fight other cats - reducing his chances of contracting feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) which are transmitted by cat bites and reproductive activity.
- Reduction in desire to roam and go missing or be hit by a car.
- Reduction in spraying urine in your home to mark territory.
- Reduction in urine odour, as it won’t smell as strongly as an unneutered male cat.
- Reduction of the risk of aggressive behaviour problems associated with testosterone - the hormone produced by the testicles.
Neutering your rabbit
It is important for rabbit’s welfare that they live together in pairs or groups, therefore neutering allows them to do this. Neutered male and female rabbits can live together happily without producing any unwanted litters. However, neutering can also help rabbits of the same gender live together without any behavioural problems caused by their hormones.
The other benefits of neutering your rabbit include:
Benefits of neutering a female rabbit:
- Up to 80% of un-neutered female rabbits can develop cancer of the uterus by 5 years of age - neutering will stop her from developing these cancers.
- It can prevent her developing aggressive behaviours - speak to your vet if you are having behavioural problems with your rabbit.
When to neuter a female rabbit
We recommend neutering at around 16 weeks old, so long as they are healthy and weigh at least 1kg.
Benefits of neutering a male rabbit:
- Unneutered male rabbits are often too aggressive to live with other rabbits, which can leave them lonely. Neutered males can live happily with both male and female rabbits.
- It can reduce urine spraying, aggression and other behavioural problems that are linked to his hormones. Ask your vet for advice if your rabbit has any behavioural problems.
When to neuter a male rabbit
We recommend neutering when the testicles have descended - or 'dropped' - usually at around 12 weeks.