What are the benefits of desexing?

Desexing females (speying) has the following benefits:

  • Prevention of pregnancy
  • Prevention of ovarian or uterine cancer
  • Prevention of 'heat' (similar to human menstruation; there is vulval discharge and
  • sexual behaviour)
  • Prevention of pyometra, a condition where the uterus fills with pus
  • Reduced risk of mammary cancer when performed early (risk increases with
  • each heat)
  • Reduced incidence of aggressive, territorial and sexual behaviour

Desexing males (castrating) has the following benefits:

  • Prevention of impregnation of a female
  • Prevention of testicular cancer
  • Reduced risk of prostate disease
  • Reduced incidence of aggressive, territorial and sexual behaviour, particularly when performed early.

In both males and females, there are also the following benefits:

  • Reduced food requirements
  • Reduced cost of council registration

Are there any negative side effects of desexing?

Desexing can reduce territorial behaviour, so there is a small risk that a desexed dog may become less suitable as a guard dog. Some desexed females will develop urinary incontinence later in life due to a lack of oestrogen, but this does not affect the majority of dogs, and in any case it is usually very easy to manage. Thirdly, since desexing reduces an animal's metabolic rate and its food requirements, desexed animals can be more prone to obesity. This can be avoided by feeding an appropriate diet. The only other disadvantage of desexing is that it involves a general anaesthetic and surgery, which is never completely risk-free. However, we use the safest possible anaesthetic protocol and our vets are experienced in desexing. We also offer the option of IV fluids for a small surcharge, and this reduces the risk further. The benefits of desexing far outweigh the small risk you take by subjecting your dog to a general anaesthetic and surgery.

What is involved in the procedure?

Desexing is usually done at about 5 to 6 months of age, before sexual maturity. It is a surgical procedure requiring general anaesthesia. Desexing a female involves opening the abdomen to remove both ovaries and the uterus. Desexing a male involves making an incision just in front of the scrotum in dogs, or over the scrotum in cats, to remove both testicles. While your pet is under anaesthesia, we provide a full oral examination at no charge to check for any dental problems that may need to be addressed. We provide pain relief and antibiotic injections. You need to fast your pet from 10pm the previous night (but still allow access to water), and bring him or her to the clinic between 8.30 and 9am in the morning. Your pet will go home later the same day.

What do I need to do at home after the procedure?

On the night that you take your pet home, he or she may still be a bit sedate from the anaesthetic. This means that he or she may have a reduced appetite. Start by feeding small meals and don't be surprised if your pet is not interested at first. By the next day, most patients have recovered well and the challenge becomes to keep them quiet so that they do not damage the sutures that have been placed. You will need to stop your pet from running or jumping for 10 days, and he or she cannot be bathed. It is also important to stop your pet from licking or chewing the wound. Usually we dispense a bitter tasting liquid called 'Yuk' to apply around the wound to deter your pet from licking, but sometimes we need to use an E collar ('bucket'). Keep an eye on the surgical wound for any redness, swelling, discharge or excessive pain and let us know if you are concerned. You will need to return to the clinic 10 days after surgery to check that the wound has healed completely and take out any sutures.