What Do the Terms "Spaying" and "Neutering" Mean?
"Spaying" and "neutering" are surgical procedures used to prevent pets from reproducing. In a female animal, "spaying" consists of removing the uterus and ovaries. The technical term is ovario-hysterectomy. For a male animal, "neutering" involves the removal of the testicles, and this is known as castration.
Reasons for Neutering
- Neutering increases your pet's changes for a longer, healthier life - Spaying your female pet reduces her chances of developing mammary cancer and eliminates the threat of uterine and ovarian infections. Neutering your male dog or cat prevents testicular cancer and may prevent prostate problems. Neutered cats are less likely to roam and fight or get killed on the roads.
- A neutered dog or cat is a better pet - Males neutered early in life are less aggressive towards other dogs and are not distracted by females in heat.
- Spaying your female pet eliminates the problem of stray males camping in your garden and decreases her desire to roam and breed.
- Spaying prevents your pet from giving birth to unwanted puppies and kittens. It also stops the messy and difficult twice-annual heat period. You are helping to alleviate the dog and cat overpopulation problems we have in Ireland.
Does It Hurt?
As the surgery is done under a general anaesthetic it is painless. The operation for both males and for females is straightforward and low risk. Recovery is usually uneventful. The worst your pet might experience is some discomfort for a short time after the operation.
When Should It Be Done?
The usual recommendation is at 6 to 7 months for both cats and dogs. Your veterinarian should be consulted to determine the best time for your pet.
Excuses for Not Neutering
My pet will get fat and lazy
Pets that become fat and lazy after being neutered are usually overfed and under exercised.
Shouldn't a female pet have one litter first?
Allowing a female dog/cat to produce a litter does not have any benefits. There are health risks to the mother during the pregnancy and when giving birth. Finding good homes for puppies and kittens is not easy. Even if you manage to place your pet's offspring, you are condemning to death the numbers of unwanted animals in shelters and pounds who are in desperate need of good homes.
Spaying and Neutering isn't 'natural'
Humans domesticated animals and brought them into our lives. The environment we and our pets live in is very different from the 'natural' one. We have made them dependent on us, which means we are responsible for their well being, just as we are with any other family member.
We can sell the litter and make money
Even well known breeders are fortunate if they break even on raising purebred litters. Vaccinations, health care costs and feeding consume most of the profit.
I am concerned about my pet undergoing anaesthesia
Although there is always a slight risk involved, anaesthetics used by veterinarians are very safe. The medical benefits of having your pet neutered or spayed far outweigh the slight risk involved with undergoing anaesthesia.
Neutering a Dog
This is a most important subject. Some owners believe it is unfair to deny their pet the opportunity to breed; however, mating is not necessarily advisable for health or happiness.
Every year in Ireland, approximately 30,000 unwanted and abandoned puppies and dogs have to be put to sleep…..
- For females, neutering is called spaying, and for males it is called castration.
- The average female dog comes on 'heat' twice yearly. This may last for 1 month.
- During this time, a bitch is ready for mating and pregnancy may result.
- As well as being messy and inconvenient, she will need to be kept apart from male dogs for the duration to prevent unwanted puppies.
- Spaying is now a routine operation, performed under general anaesthetic.
- It usually involves just a day spent at your veterinary practice, and she will have recovered fully in approximately 2 weeks.
- Female dogs are generally spayed about 6 months of age, but your pet can be spayed at any age.
- A spayed bitch will not come into season again, and so will not become pregnant.
- Spaying prevents womb infections, which are very serious, and can be life threatening.
- Spayed bitches are far less likely to develop mammary or breast cancer, which can be life threatening also.
- After spaying dogs will not put on weight, as long as they are fed sensibly and exercised regularly. You may find that your dog does not require as much food after the operation.
- Contrary to popular belief, neutering has absolutely no affect on a dog's temperament or personality. It is just an old wives tale that a dog needs to have a litter of puppies.
- Uncastrated male dog's behaviour can alter greatly when a local bitch is in heat. They will escape at any opportunity, and may cause or be involved in a road traffic accident: for which you will be held responsible; get into fights with other dog's, or worst of all, get lost and go missing, possibly forever.
- Male dogs are usually castrated at about 6 months of age, but can be done at any age.
- Neutering or castrating your dog is another straight forward operation, that usually involves just a day stay at your veterinary surgeon, and dogs usually make a complete recovery within 2 weeks.
- As well as making your dog less likely to stray, dog's tend to be less aggressive and less likely to fight, and often more amenable to training.
- Castrated dogs will not develop testicular cancer, and are far less likely to have prostate trouble or anal tumours.
- Neutering your dog is not as expensive as you may think…. It is certainly cheaper than the cost of an unplanned pregnancy and raising a litter of pups, or the vet's bill following your dog's road accident.
- Neutering is the only guaranteed way of preventing unplanned puppies being born, and the needless destruction of thousands of dogs every year.