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 “speying”.This is the most frequent surgery performed by our vets, and generally your pet is home by the evening of surgery.

We recommend females be desexed at 5-6 months of age, before they come into season ("heat") the first time. Many of the benefits of desexing females decrease in effectiveness the more times they come into season. This is particularly so for the first three heat cycles. For normal males, we generally suggest around 12 months of age.  This provides a happy medium between growth and medical benefits. For cryptorchid males (those in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum), we suggest around 6 months of age.  Many factors can influence the timing of a desexing procedure, please be sure to discuss any questions or concerns with your vet.

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

  • 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 

  • Being less prone to wander, especially in males

  • Living a longer and healthier life

  • Reduction of council registration fees

  • 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

Common questions about desexing

“Will desexing affect my pet’s personality?”

Your pet will retain their pre-operation personality. The idea that desexing will calm a dog down and improve their behaviour is a myth. If their behaviour is undesirable, you need to consult a trainer and/or your vet.

“Should my female have one litter first?”

No – it is actually better for her not to have any litters before being spayed.Her risk of developing breast cancer increases if she is allowed to go through her first heat.

“Will it cause my pet to become fat?”

Your pet’s metabolism may be slowed due to hormonal changes after desexing,however this is easily managed with adjusting feeding and ensuring adequate exercise. There is no reason a desexed pet cannot be maintained at a normal weight.

“Is desexing painful?”

As with all surgery, there is some tenderness immediately after the procedure, but most pets will recover very quickly. We administer pain relief prior to surgery and after surgery too. In some cases, your pet will be discharged with a short course of pain relief medication to take at home for the first few days after the surgery.  In most cases, your pet will likely need some encouragement to take it easy!

“Will my dog lose its “guard dog”instinct?”

No, your dog will be just as protective of their territory as before the surgery.

What to do before and after surgery

Before surgery:

  • Make a booking for your pets operation.

  • If your pet is a dog, and overdue for a bath, consider washing them the day or two before surgery as they are unable to be washed after until the stitches are removed.

  • Do not give your pet food after 8pm the night before the operation and do not give them any water after 8am on the day of surgery.

  • In some cases, we may recommend a blood test prior to surgery to check vital organ function.

  • The vet will perform a thorough physical examination before administering an anaesthetic.

  •  We strongly recommend intravenous fluid support during surgery. Whilst there is an additional cost for this, it helps support blood pressure, and aids recovery. This will be discussed with you prior to the procedure. In female dogs over 20kg, we consider this essential and it is already included in the estimate you have been/will be given. 

After Surgery:

  • Keep your pet restrained and quiet as the effects of anaesthetic can take some time to wear off completely. Ensure they are kept in a safe, warm environment for at least the first 24 hours

  • Keeping them quiet is essential to allow the wound to heal.  Females should not be allowed to do any running or jumping until their stitches are removed

  • Food and water should be limited to small portions only on the night after 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 (eg. bleeding, swelling, redness or discharge). Contact the vet immediately if these symptoms appear. Do not wait to see if they will spontaneously resolve.

  • Prevent your pet from licking or chewing the wound. Special cone-shaped collars or bitterant sprays can assist with this problem. A single chew can remove the careful stitching with disastrous effects.

  • Ensure you book your suture removal when you receive your reminder. This is included in the cost of your procedure, and will be performed by one of our vets or nurses. 

If you have any concerns before or after your pet has been desexed, please call us immediately to discuss.