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 involves removal of the testicles. In female pets it is referred to as “spaying” and involves removal of the ovaries and uterus. This is a routine surgery performed by our vets, and your pet will be home by the evening of the surgery.

The most common time to desex your pet is between 6 and 12 months of age. For larger breeds of dogs, it may be recommended to wait until they are slightly older than this, but this would be discussed during the first few appointments you have with your puppy. Older animals can also be desexed; in general there is no upper age limit.

There are many benefits to desexing your pet including:

  • 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
  • Prevention of testicular cancer and prostate disease in males. Prevention of pyometra (infection of the uterus) and mammary tumours (breast cancer) in females
  • Stopping the “heat” cycle in females
  • Decreasing aggression towards humans and other animals (especially males)
  • Being less prone to wander (especially males)
  • Living a longer and healthier life
  • Reduction of council registration fees


Common questions about desexing

“Will desexing affect my pet’s personality?”

Your pet will retain their pre-operation personality, possibly with the added bonus of being calmer and less aggressive.

“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 and the surgery can be more complicated.

“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.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 they recover so quickly that your pet might 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, you may want to wash them the day before surgery as they are unable to be washed after until the stitches are removed (2 weeks after surgery).
  • Do not give your pet food after 10pm the night before the operation. Water at all times is ok.
  • A blood test will be performed prior to surgery to check vital organ function.
  • The vet will perform a thorough physical examination before administering an anaesthetic.
  •  Intravenous fluids will be given during and after the procedure to help maintain blood pressure and assist in recovery.
  • To ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible, all pets receive pain relief at the time of desexing and to take home for a few days after the procedure.

After Surgery:

  • Keep your pet in a warm and quiet environment the night after surgery, as they may still be feeling a little sleepy following the anaesthetic. It is also a good idea to feed only a small meal that night too.
  • Exercise/activity restriction is extremely important to minimise complications after surgery. For dogs this means short walks on the lead to allow toileting only and for cats this means keeping them inside.
  • 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 assist with this problem. A single chew can remove the careful stitching with disastrous effects.
  • Ensure you return to us on time for routine post-operative check-ups and removal of stitches.

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

Click here to read a more detailed home care information sheet that we will send you home with on the day of your pet’s desexing.

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