Neutering (spaying in females and castration in males) is a commonly carried out procedure. Whilst many pets are neutered for health benefits or behavioural modification, we always consider each patient as an individual and discuss with owners when and if neutering is appropriate.
It is most frequently carried out as a surgical procedure removing the ovaries and/or uterus in females and the testicles in males. A medical alternative which mimics the effects of surgical castration is licensed for male dogs, cats and ferrets. This can be very helpful to manage testosterone associated behavioural problems in male dogs, create temporary infertility in male cats and has health benefits in mixed groups of ferrets.
Some neutered pets can be easier to live with – females can go through phantom pregnancies and can become withdrawn or hostile during their seasons. Males can become extremely agitated and unruly when females nearby are in season.
If you wish to discuss neutering your pet, a complimentary pre-neutering check can be arranged via our on-line booking facility either at the surgery or using our video consultation service.
Our Lifetime Care Club is a great way to save money on neutering for dogs and cats as well as other preventative pet care.
Unless a vet says there is a health reason to not neuter your dog, cat, or rabbit, neutering is the most responsible thing you can do for your pet and the wider pet community. Always get your pet checked by a vet if you plan to breed from them.
To house male and female guinea pigs together, the male will need to be castrated. For all other pets, ask our friendly team for advice.
Neutering Your Dog
There is no set age for neutering although we do offer some rough guidelines. Each animal is considered on a case-by-case basis. In both sexes we encourage clients to allow their pets to have time to physically mature prior to their operations. For males this is around 10-12 months of age and for females after their first season.
Dogs – In the week leading up to your pet’s neutering appointment we recommend booking a free of charge pre-neutering health check. This gives you the opportunity to ask the vet any questions you may have about the procedure and for us to meet you and your pet.
Bitches – We routinely carry out an abdominal midline spay in bitches however if you would like to discuss laparoscopic surgery or pre-season neutering then please let us know. The procedure Neutering (castration in males and spaying in females) is a way that we can surgically remove the risk of unwanted pregnancies in animals. It may also have the added benefits of reducing antisocial behaviour traits and the risk of some hormonally associated cancers. We ask that your dog does not have any food from midnight immediately before the operation. You can allow free access to water, however please do not give them any food on the morning that they are due to be neutered. All neutering is carried out under general anaesthetic which can be a worry to some owners, however every step is taken by your vet to reduce potential risks. On the morning of your dog’s operation we will make an appointment for them to see the vet to be admitted. The procedure will be discussed once more and you will be asked to confirm your contact details and sign a consent form to allow us to go ahead. One admitted, we will give your dog another health check prior to administering a premedication containing pain relief and a sedative to prepare them for surgery. Exceptions are always possible in both cases and these can be discussed with the vet prior to any decisions being made. For some male dogs, surgical castration may not always be the best first line approach if there are behavioural concerns. Please make an appointment to discuss options with us prior to making a surgical neutering appointment as temporary medical castration may be appropriate instead. For bitches we usually recommend spaying roughly 3 months after a season. This timing allows the uterus and associated blood vessels to reduce in size and therefore minimises surgical risk. Occasionally in some bitches this timing may coincide with the presence of a false or phantom pregnancy showing as mammary development, milk production or behavioural change. This is a normal occurrence and the timing of the spay may be adjusted slightly or medication given to resolve the changes prior to surgery. Neutering Your Dog Page 9 Following surgery, a nurse will return your dog to you and discuss important aspects of post operative care and what you may expect over the next 48 hours. Your dog with be regularly monitored before and after surgery and continuously during the procedure. In males an incision is made just in front of the scrotum to remove both testicles and in females an incision is made in the midline of the abdomen to remove both ovaries and the uterus. The wounds will then be closed using multiple layers of dissolvable suture material. Following your dog’s recovery after the anaesthetic we will encourage them to eat and then contact you to discuss the procedure and arrange an appointment to collect your dog.
Following surgery, a nurse will return your dog to you and discuss important aspects of post operative care and what you may expect over the next 48 hours. Your dog with be regularly monitored before and after surgery and continuously during the procedure. In males an incision is made just in front of the scrotum to remove both testicles and in females an incision is made in the midline of the abdomen to remove both ovaries and the uterus. The wounds will then be closed using multiple layers of dissolvable suture material. Following your dog’s recovery after the anaesthetic we will encourage them to eat and then contact you to discuss the procedure and arrange an appointment to collect your dog. Aftercare We will ask you to make two follow up appointments for us to monitor your dog’s recovery: one approximately 2 days after the surgery and another one 10 days after the surgery. These may be arranged as physical visits to the surgery or via a video consultation. During the recovery period it is important to keep the patient as quiet as possible (this is especially important in the bitch). A buster collar or Pet T-Shirt is recommended to prevent you dog licking or interfering with the surgery site, as postoperative infections can prolong the time taken to recover and therefore increase the overall costs of the procedure. Recovery is usually surprisingly fast and most pet owners report a return to normal behaviour within 48 hours. This is especially true of castration in the male. It is not unusual however for the bitch to be slightly more subdued. If you have any concerns, please contact us. Both male and female dogs can tend towards obesity following neutering (especially in certain breeds). Therefore, it is important to monitor weight gain and, should you be concerned, our qualified nursing team offer free* weight clinics to give advice and discuss the options available.
* Terms & Conditions apply
Neutering Your Cat
Neutering (castration in males and spaying in females) is a way that we can surgically remove the risk of unwanted pregnancies in animals. Neutering your cat may be one of the most beneficial things, aside from vaccination, that you can do as a responsible pet owner.
Tom Cats – Cats become sexually mature between 4-5 months of age. Therefore, at this age they become more interested in the wider world and the outdoors. Uncastrated male cats are much more likely to be involved in car accidents as they roam at night, and are also prone to abscesses caused by bites when they get into cat fights. This in turn means they are more likely than castrated cats to contract feline aids or leukaemia (FIV/FeLV).
Queens – You will know when your unspayed female cat comes into season as they will start to ‘call’. Calling behaviour consists of loud and persistent vocalisation (often at windows), rolling about on the floor as in pain, and a keenness to get outside to meet a mate. This behaviour will attract local Tom cats who may congregate around your house. Calling may go on for up to a week and happen every 2-3 weeks throughout the spring and summer if your cat is not mated. Once mated, the cat will stop calling for the duration of pregnancy up until 6-8 weeks after the kittens are born. Calling uses up a lot of energy and the Queen may lose body condition. Contrary to popular belief there is no proven health benefit to allowing your cat to have a litter of kittens. In fact, if your cat does have a litter of kittens she will put all her energy into raising the kittens and lose condition. If she is not spayed after the litter is born, she will then come back into season and start calling again, thereby losing more condition. Neutering your cat has many health and behavioural benefits and Larkmead would recommend neutering all cats at the age of 4-6 months.
Neutering rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets
Rabbits – Ideally rabbits should be kept as bonded pairs or in groups. Neutering allows them to do this without behavioural issues and without the complication of increasing numbers. A mixed sex pair of rabbits should always BOTH be neutered as a castrated male will still attempt to mount a spayed female which can trigger fighting. If the female is left unspayed in a mixed pair, she will suffer from false pregnancies, and this too can trigger aggression.
Around 80% of entire (unspayed) female rabbits over the age of 4 are also at significant risk of a type of cancer called a uterine adenocarcinoma. Early spaying prevents this.
Male rabbits can be castrated as soon as both testicles have descended which is usually around 4 months old. Females should be neutered between 6 months and 1 year of age.
Guinea pigs – The best pairing is 2 males or two females, or a neutered male with any number of females. Male guinea pigs can be castrated from 3-4 months of age. It is less common to spay females.
Ferrets – Female ferrets (Jills) can either be spayed between 6-8 months of age or can receive hormone injections or be housed with a vasectomised male ferret. Jills will remain persistently in season without intervention, and this can lead to a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.
Ferrets – Male ferrets (Hobs) are generally castrated for social reasons to reduce their characteristic musky ferret smell. It is usually done at around 8 months of age. If you do have mixed groups however, it is better to consider vasectomising (sterilising) the male rather than castrating, so he can stop the Jill remaining in persistent oestrus or season.
At Larkmead Vets, our friendly team are on hand to offer you advice on when is the best time to neuter your pet.