Should I get my pet desexed?
At Greencross Vets, we strongly recommend owners have their pets desexed. Not only are there numerous health benefits for your pet, the number of unplanned puppies and kittens ending up in animal shelters is drastically reduced. For roaming pets like outdoor cats (whose neighbourhood adventures are hard to track), it is especially important.
What is desexing?
Surgical desexing involves the removal of part of a pet’s reproductive system whilst under a general anaesthetic. Desexing of females (also known as spaying or an ovarian hysterectomy) involves removing the ovaries and uterus. Desexing of males (also known as castration or neutering) involves the removal of both testicles.
Why your pet needs to be desexed
Across Australia, tens of thousands of dogs and cats are destroyed at animal shelters every year. The exact number is hard to determine, but some estimates exceed the hundreds of thousands. We can do better. Veterinarians recommend desexing to prevent unwanted pregnancies in females and to stop this unnecessary destruction. Desexing is especially important for cats, as it is hard to tell when she is in season. In female dogs, desexing automatically stops their cycles and the associated bleeding and unwanted attention from male dogs that result in pregnancy.
Castration in male pets helps to control several behavioural related issues. In dogs, it can prevent aggression problems and wandering instincts. It is kinder to desex your male pet to stop their hormonal drive to stray from home in search of a mate. In male cats, it can reduce the tendency to roam and fight which often leads to injuries, abscesses, and infection.
In both cats and dogs, male urine odour can be particularly strong and pungent. Desexing usually prevents this odour, and in most cases, desexing will reduce or eliminate spraying in cats.
The medical benefits of desexing your pet
At what age should my pet be desexed?
The right age for desexing your pet can vary depending on their breed and size. The current recommended age for desexing a dog or cat is six months. However, at Greencross Vets we know that each of our patients are unique. Our veterinary team will take into consideration everything that’s special about your pet before giving any recommendations.
What you should know about surgery at Greencross Vets
The goal of any surgery at Greencross Vets is to minimise anxiety in your pet, perform a safe procedure, and eliminate pain during and after surgery. With this in mind, here are a few things you should know about surgery at Greencross Vets…
Your pet’s pre-anaesthetic test
The anaesthetics available for surgery on our companion pets are extremely safe. But, as in humans, risk elements can become higher if there’s something wrong with your pet’s health that we weren’t aware of. This is why it is necessary to perform a blood test before administering anaesthetic to your pet. The test will examine your pet’s major organ functions, like the liver and kidney’s ability to rid the body of medications. It also identifies the performance of blood cells to ensure they can carry oxygen, and fight against infection and clotting. Our pet healthcare team will discuss pre-anaesthetic testing with you further.
Intravenous fluids will help your pet’s liver and kidneys flush out anaesthetic drugs and maintain better blood pressure during surgery. This means a safer anaesthetic and faster recovery for your pet.
Pain relief is provided to all pets. We also provide take-home medication so your pet can continue to recover comfortably when they return home.
Greencross Vets use gas anaesthesia, the safest form of anaesthetic for pets. We also use specialised equipment to monitor the administration of anaesthetic during surgery.
Sterile surgery and dedicated theatre
Maintaining the highest levels of cleanliness is as important to pets as is it to people when it comes to surgical procedures. That’s why the Greencross surgical team are fully gowned the whole time. Instruments are sterilised in an autoclave and we have a dedicated surgical theatre, like a hospital.
The Greencross dedicated patient care nursing staff will monitor your pet before, during, and after surgery, and will ensure your pet is kept in a comfortable and warm environment.
Time to microchip
Microchipping is a non-invasive, safe way of identifying your pet for life should they become lost. Now is a great time to consider microchipping, since your pet is already in a relaxed state under anaesthetic.
We are often asked whether or not a pet parent should stay at home to care for a pet after surgery. Generally, pets make a speedy recovery after routine procedures, so staying at home with them is not necessary (as long as they have somewhere warm, comfortable, and clean to rest). However, if you are considering making special plans to be with your pet, we suggest you take the day off after surgery rather than the day of surgery.
Your pet’s day at the vet
Once your pet has been admitted to our ward, we will perform a health check-up and administer a sedative to help your pet relax. After surgery, your pet will recover on a heating pad, accompanied by hygienic, dry, and fluffy bedding. Your pet will be treated as if they are our own. Not only will our veterinary nurse continue to monitor throughout the recovery process, they will also give your pet the attention (and cuddles) they deserve.
Facts versus myths
Myth – ‘Females should have a litter before being desexed.’ Fact – For your pet’s health this is not true. Spaying a dog before her first heat will greatly reduce the risk of mammary cancer.
Myth – ‘Desexing will make my pet fat.’ Fact – Desexing is done at an age when rapid puppy growth is decreasing and diet control is necessary. Overfeeding and lack of exercise will make your pet fat, not desexing.
Myth – ‘Desexing a trained guard dog will reduce his/her ability to guard.’ Fact – Guarding results from instinctive territorial behaviour. This does not change when a dog is desexed. They are less likely to become aggressive as they get older.
Myth – ‘Pets become lazy after they are desexed’. Fact – There are generally no changes in the character of pets after desexing. However, young male dogs will be less inclined to mount objects and jump fences in search of a mate.