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Are you aware of the benefits of neutering your pet?

young-dog-neuteringNeutering involves removal of the reproductive organs in animals and is specifically referred to as castration (removal of the testes) in males and spaying (removal of the ovaries) in females.

Neutering has several benefits for both male and female animals.

In males:

Sexual drive and the associated behaviour patterns are reduced. Although normal in a wild animal, these are not pleasant or acceptable in a domesticated or household animal. Examples would be aggression to other males, wandering (especially in dogs) and spraying (especially cats and rabbits).

Likelihood of prostate enlargement – which could otherwise cause a range of problems – is effectively eliminated by the reduction in the male hormone testosterone following neutering.

In females:

CatThe benefits are primarily the elimination of unwanted pregnancies with the difficulties of finding homes for the offspring, but there also are significant health benefits to consider.

Likelihood of mammary tumours developing is reduced, particularly if the procedure is performed before the first season. In small breeds this can be as early as six months of age.

Older bitches left entire have an increasingly high risk of pyometra – a complication of the false pregnancy which follows a season if the bitch is not mated. The uterus fills with pus, releasing toxins into the body and causing permanent damage to the kidneys. It is best treated by surgery for a long term solution but the costs and risks at this point are much higher than with a routine preventative spay.

Reduced likelihood of developing diabetes, which is more common after a season in older bitches.

Reduced likelihood of unwanted attention from male dogs. Apart from the nuisance element the chances of road accidents as dogs single- mindedly following the scent of a bitch in season is a real issue.

In older female rabbits uterine tumours are a common cause of death, so spaying eliminates this risk. Female rabbits can also experience aggressive behavioural problems associated with false pregnancies.

“At Golden Valley, we generally recommend spaying bitches before their first season to get the maximum health benefits. We would advise castrating male dogs between six and eight months of age in most cases. There may be individual animals or breeds which require a modification of this general rule, so we would advise discussing the best approach with one of our vets at an early stage; allowing a suitable individual plan to be put in place.”

CatIn general, cats should be neutered at five to six months of age to avoid unwanted litters. Rabbits should be neutered at around four months of age.

Other species (guinea pigs, ferrets, etc.) should be discussed individually with one of our vets.

The vast majority of bitch spay procedures that we perform are done using laparoscopic (keyhole) techniques. This involves making small incisions and using a video camera and long thin instruments to remove the ovaries. As in human surgery, keyhole procedures offer less discomfort and more rapid recovery than traditional ‘open’ surgery.

Some owners worry about the potential problems of neutering, particularly when poorly informed opinion is so widely available on the internet. The main issue is the potential for weight gain, which is undoubtedly a possibility; especially if you do not take this into consideration after your pet’s procedure.

Most animals will gain weight after neutering if their diet does not change. We normally recommend reducing their food by about a quarter after the operation. It’s also a good idea for your pet’s weight to be regularly checked, which is a service we provide for free at all of our branches. This enables our team to detect any potential problems and treat them quickly and accordingly.

As with many things prevention is better than cure!

Some people argue that neutering is not ‘normal’. It is not ‘normal’ to keep a dog or a cat in a household environment. A cat is a wild animal that just happens to live in your house; its underlying behaviour is still very much natural.

Dogs have been domesticated over many thousands of years but will still revert to wild behaviour if given the opportunity – including suffering considerable frustration if not allowed to express such natural behaviour. Neutering helps to alleviate some of these natural instincts and allows your pet to live at peace in what is still to them an artificial world.

The important thing to remember is that animals, owners and lifestyles are all different. We understand that one size does not necessarily fit all and if you are in any way concerned please discuss it with us. We will take account of your concerns and advise you on an individual basis.