There is no “perfect” age to desex your pet. There are pros and cons for desexing at different ages and we advise discussing these with one of our vets to determine the best plan for you and your pet. Traditionally, we desexed most dogs at 5-6 months of age, prior to the onset of puberty. Whilst there are certainly some benefits in desexing at this age (see below), we now recognise that some dogs (particularly large breeds) will benefit from delaying desexing until after physical maturity (12 months–2 years depending on breed). As a general rule, we would still advise desexing most smaller breed dogs at approximately 6 months of age, and most larger breeds between 12 and 18 months. However, this will vary from patient to patient.
Reasons for desexing:
Desexing before your dog reaches puberty (has her first season) substantially reduces the risk of developing mammary cancer later in life.
Desexing eliminates the risk of life-threatening uterine infections (pyometra).
Unplanned pregnancies can be dangerous for female dogs and may result in emergency caesarians
Desexing reduces the risk of prostate disease which are common in middle-aged and elderly entire male dogs.
Desexing reduces the risk of certain tumours near the anus.
Desexing eliminates the risk of testicular tumours.
Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and are therefore less likely to be hit by cars, lost or involved in dog fights.
Aggression, dominance and possessiveness behaviours tend to be less of an issue in desexed than entire males.
Some common fallacies about desexing animals:
Neutering an animal does not make the animal fat. Overfeeding and lack of exercise are the major causes of obesity, not desexing.
Having a litter before desexing does not improve a female dog's character.
Desexed dogs are just as likely to be effective guard dogs as entire male dogs.
What to do before and after surgery
- Make a booking for your pets operation.
- If your pet is a dog, wash them the day before surgery as they are unable to be washed after until the stitches are removed.
- Do not give your pet food after 10pm the night before the operation and do not give them any water after 8am on the day of surgery.
- A blood test may be performed prior to surgery to check vital organ function.
- The vet will perform a thorough physical examination before administering an anaesthetic.
Some pets will require intravenous fluid support during surgery. This will be discussed with you prior to the procedure.
To ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible, all pets receive pain relief prior to and immediately after desexing
- Keep your pet restrained and quiet as the effects of anaesthetic can take some time to wear off completely.
- Keeping them quiet is also essential to allow the wound to heal.
- 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 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 assist with this problem.
- Ensure you return to us on time for routine post-operative check-ups.
If you have any concerns before or after your pet has been desexed, please call us immediately to discuss.