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Desexing is the surgical procedure that renders a male or female cat or dog unable to reproduce. Desexing is a routine procedure for our surgeons, but it is a once in a lifetime experience for your pet. We are therefore careful to maximize your pet’s comfort and reduce stress once admitted to hospital and throughout the procedure.

Male castration involves a small incision in the front of the scrotum to remove the testicles, which are responsible for the production of sperm and the male hormone testosterone. In females, speying involves intra-abdominal surgery to remove the ovaries and uterus. The ovaries are responsible for the production of eggs and the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

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Benefits of Castrating Male Pets

  • Less behavioral problems including: aggression towards other pets and people, wandering around/trying to escape, irritability and unpredictability caused by hormonal surges, urine marking and mounting behavior

  • Fewer puppies and kittens produced, and therefore less unwanted animals at shelters

  • No risk of developing testicular cancer

  • Greatly reduces the potential for prostate problems later in life

  • In cats, greatly reduced incidence of cat fights, feline AIDS virus and abscesses

  • Less vet visits for traumatic injuries/illnesses

  • Cheaper council registration fees

  • Living a longer and healthier life

Image by Japheth Mast

Benefits of Speying Female Pets

  • Desexing before the first season reduces chances of breast cancer by over 90% – there is no physical or behavioural advantage for your pet in speying after their first season or litter

  • Less behavioural problems including; aggression towards other pets and people, wandering around/trying to escape, irritability and unpredictability caused by hormonal surges

  • No unwanted pregnancies or litters

  • No lock-in period when in season, and no bleeding (when entire, bleeding occurs twice a year for up to 3-4 weeks)

  • Avoidance of potentially life threatening medical conditions such as pyometra (infection of the uterus)

  • Reduced incidence of feline AIDS virus and cat abscesses

  • No potentially expensive caesarean procedure for difficult births

  • Less vet visits for traumatic injuries/illnesses

  • Cheaper council registration

  • Living a longer and healthier life

Details about Procedure and Delayed Desexing

Desexing is conducted under full general anaesthetic with strict hygiene controls. We always recommend pre-anaesthetic bloods to make sure your pet is healthy before surgery. Your pet will also be on intra-venous fluids throughout the procedure to support their vital organs and improve recovery time. When under anaesthetic, your pet will be closely monitored by a qualified and skilled veterinary nurse. Your pet will have an Australian Veterinary Association ear tattoo applied to their left ear to indicate they have been desexed. After surgery we use insulated blankets in combination with pain and anti-inflammatory medication to minimise discomfort. Your pet will be sent home the same afternoon once they recover. All our patients are sent home with pain and anti-inflammatory medication and a bucket collar. We also include a follow-up appointment 3 days after surgery to make sure that your pet is happy and comfortable at home and that they are healing well. Sutures are removed 10 days after surgery.

Choosing the best time to desex your pet will depend on a number of factors, including the breed, size, species, behavior and family environment. Desexing has always been recommended at 4-6 months of age, however recent research suggests that large breed dogs should delay desexing until they are skeletally mature. Studies have found that early desexing of large breed dogs may increase the incidence of certain orthopaedic conditions e.g. hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament disease. On the other hand, behavioural problems such as urine marking, mounting, anxiety and various other forms of boldness-related, aggressive or reactive behaviours can be problematic in large breed dogs that undergo delayed desexing. Due to such a large population of dogs suffering from behavioural problems, delayed desexing should be discussed with your veterinarian so that the best decision can be made for your pet.

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Common Myths About Desexing

1. Desexed pets put on weight

Animals and people put on weight because of over consumption of food and insufficient exercise. There are lots of overweight people who are not desexed. Diet and exercise are the key factors!


2. Desexing stops a dog from being a good guard dog

Desexing does not alter this basic instinct – some dogs will never be guard dogs, they are just too placid, desexed or not. A dog doesn’t need aggression to be a good watch dog; it only needs to be able to bark! If you want an aggressive dog to guard your house, invest in a good security system. In the long term, it will probably cost you a lot less and cause a lot less problems than an aggressive pet will!

3. Dogs and cats make better pets if they have a litter

Not true. In fact, females often become more aggressive after a litter, rather than quieter, as their protective instincts are magnified. Frustrated entire males can become very unpredictable and aggressive.


4. Pets need to come into season before desexing

Seasons cause a lot of unwanted dogs or tomcats to appear around your house: howling, fighting, marking, urine spraying and unwanted pregnancies. There are no medical reasons for having a season and, in fact, that first season can predispose to medical problems, such as mammary cancer, later on in life.


5. Desexing is cruel/barbaric/painful/dangerous

Not true! The procedure is carried out under anaesthesia with strict hygiene controls and monitoring to ensure maximum safety. Strong pain relief and anti-inflammatory injections are routinely given before and during this surgery to minimise any post-operative discomfort. Our pets have no sense of “missing” anything. They live from day to day concerned only about their daily activities.


6. My pet is confined all the time, so why get it desexed?

Entire animals can suffer sexual frustration when females in season are within smell or when they themselves are in season. This can lead to changes in their behaviour often leading to destructiveness and aggression. Desexing eliminates this problem, leading to a happier, healthier and well adjusted family pet.


7. I’d like to make a little more money from breeding my pet

This has been tried and tested throughout the ages and unless you run a professional breeding kennel of pedigreed animals, put in a lot of capital, pay proper attention to quality feed, worming and vaccinations, you will more likely end up in debt over the experience. For example your pet may require an emergency cesarean in the middle of the night costing upwards of $2,000.00 and produce one single live puppy.


8. Having pups will be a good experience for the children

This “good experience” often turns into a nightmare when the female has trouble having her litter and the children have to watch her in pain or when some or all of the pups or kittens die at birth or soon after. There is no positive educational experience for children in seeing their pet in need of a caesarian when their parents have not planned for this possibility or cannot afford the procedure. A better learning experience for the children would be to show them how to be responsible pet owners by having the pets desexed and not producing more pups/kittens when thousands are put to sleep at the RSPCA each year.

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