The average lifespan of a neutered pet is much longer than that of an unneutered one.
Unspayed females can develop breast cancer or severe uterine infections by the time they are 8-10 years of age. Unspayed females are also in heat frequently, during which time they are noisy and troublesome to live with.
Unneutered male cats have very strong smelling urine, which they like to spray in the house to mark their territory. They are also prone to wander in search of female cats and are very territorial as well. These traits lead to high rates of death from being run over by cars, fight wounds and contagious illnesses (for some of which there is no cure e.g. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia Virus).
Almost all unspayed female dogs will eventually develop either mammary tumours (breast cancer) or a severe uterine infection called pyometra, by the time they are 8-10 years old. Female dogs also go through a messy heat cycle (season) two to three times each year.
Male dogs commonly develop prostate disease, peri-anal tumours and testicular cancer in their old age. Even more sadly, one of the more common reasons for euthanasia of pets is behaviour problems. These are usually aggression, running away, or urinating in the house by unneutered male dogs. Intact males also have greater tendencies to roam, which lead to road traffic accidents, dog fights and contagious diseases.
If cost is a concern for having surgery, just £5-10 per week saved from the time you get your puppy until he or she is 6 months old will be more than enough to cover the surgery.
- Prevention of Pregnancy: This is the most common reason that rabbits are neutered, particularly if there are both male and female rabbits living together in a household.
- Prevention of Uterine Cancer: This is the most compelling medical incentive to neuter female rabbits. In some rabbit populations the rate of uterine adenocarcinoma, which is a malignant uterine cancer, can approach 80% of the females.
- Prevention of Other Uterine Disease: Cases of other uterine disease such as pyometra (infected uterus full of pus), uterine aneurysm (uterus full of blood) and endometritis (inflamed uterine lining) also occur in rabbits.
- Prevention of Aggressive Behaviour: Both male and female rabbits can display aggressive behaviour when they are fully in the state of sexual maturity.
- Prevention of Urine Spraying: Both male and females can spray urine on vertical surfaces to make their territory. This is more common in males.
- Prevention of Testicular Disease: Most commonly we see abscesses (usually the result of bite wounds from other rabbits), haematomas (blood filled areas) and cancer.
When should I neuter my pet?
During the recent few years, RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEUTERING PETS HAVE CHANGED. Traditionally, neutering in dogs has been recommended at 6 months of age REGARDLESS of gender, breed or size. What we know now is that we need to CONSIDER EACH PET AS AN INDIVIDUAL and base the decision to neuter on things like the animal’s size (when adult), age, breed, behaviour and environment.
Whilst there are significant behavioural and health benefits to neutering, early neutering can increase the risks of some conditions, especially in large breed dogs, but this can be reduced by waiting. Please speak to one of our vets about the best time to neuter male dogs.
General Guidelines for Dogs
Small Breeds: <10kg adult weight e.g. Pomeranian, chihuahua, shitzu, etc.
From 6 months old - ideally before first season in females (reduces risk of mammary cancer even more if done before the first season). May want to wait in males with fear aggression as testosterone exposure can help improve confidence
Medium Breeds: 10-25kg adult weight e.g. Spaniels, whippets, border collies, etc
From 6 months old - May want to wait in males with fear aggression as testosterone exposure can help improve confidence
Large Breeds: >25kg adult weight e.g. Labradors, German shepherds, lurchers, etc.
Neuter once fully grown because of concerns of increased risks for joint problems with younger age neutering. Most large breed dogs are fully grown at about 12 months.
Giant breed dogs e.g. Bull Mastiffs, St Bernards, Great Danes, etc.
Neutered when fully grown at about 18 months old.
Note: females of large and giant breed dogs are recommended to be neutered between first and second seasons (to reduce risk of mammary cancer).
General Guidelines for Cats
Cats can be neutered from 4 months old for both males and females. There are no known health concerns with neutering at this age; and they tend to recover from surgery quicker at this younger age.
Are there any disadvantages to neutering at a later age?
If your pet is displaying any aggressive tendencies or urine marking behaviours, spaying or neutering EARLIER rather than later may be beneficial.
Spaying females AFTER their first heat/season may lead to an INCREASE in development of mammary cancer as opposed to spaying before the first heat.
Having intact male and female dogs in the same household could result in unwanted breeding, so spaying or neutering before sexual maturity would be recommended in this situation.
Finally, there may be personal reasons for wanting your dog to be spayed or neutered early, such as not wanting to deal with the “mess” of a dog in heat/season, cost concerns or other issues.
Please note, we still strongly recommend that you spay and neuter pets, as many behavioural and health issues can be prevented by doing so. But, the new evidence is convincing for waiting a bit later to do surgery in our large and giant breed male dogs.
General Guidelines for Rabbits
Depending on the breed, from four to nine months.
Talk to our veterinary surgeons to get all the information you need and make decisions that are best for the health of your individual pet.
Things to consider before breeding from your pet
- Do you have the time to raise a litter of kittens or puppies? The time and effort required may be considerable, especially if problems are encountered.
- Is your pet a good representative of his/her breed? Up to 40% of purebred dogs have some form of genetic defect which they can pass on to their offspring.
- Look at the general health of the breed. Are there any problems such as hip dysplasia or seizures?
- Can you afford the expense if your pet becomes pregnant and needs veterinary care for associated problems? Caesarean sections and other emergency care can be very expensive (and are not always covered by insurance—check your policy).
- We recommend spaying (surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus) of females and castration (surgical removal of the testicles) of males, for all pets that will not be used for purebred breeding.
- Your pet will be healthier and happier, and you will have done your part to reduce the pet overpopulation problem.
- You will be helping to prevent many dogs and cats being put to death each year because there are not enough homes for them all.
To talk to one of our friendly team and find out more, please Contact your Practice. Alternatively to make a booking with us, please click here.
Neutering is the responsible thing to do.