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Desexing

Cats and Dogs

desexingWhat is involved in desexing?

Desexing involves the surgical removal of the ovaries and the uterus in the female and the testicles in the male. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia so your pet does not feel any pain. Desexing is a permanent means of birth control and is a routine pet surgical procedure.

What is the best age for desexing?

In cats and dogs, the recommended age for desexing is 6 months of age in both males and females.

In females, cats and dogs tend to come into “heat” or “season” and receptive to males just after 6 months of age, so it is important not to delay desexing. If your pet is desexed at 6 months, there will not be any unwanted puppies or kittens born. The procedure is straight forward in an immature female as the uterus is less developed. Females desexed prior to their first heat have a much lower incidence of mammary (breast) cancer, which is a health advantage.

In males, cats and dogs desexed at 6 months have less chance of developing undesirable behavioural traits such as urine marking (dogs) or spraying (cats), aggression, roaming and mounting behaviours.

What are the advantages of desexing?

If you do not intend to breed from your pet, surgical desexing has many advantages.

In males it removes sexual urges so that if your pet senses a female in heat he is unlikely to show interest. This reduces the tendency for them to roam. Male dogs and cats are less likely to mark their territory with urine and often have fewer behavioural problems if desexed around 6 months old.

Desexing prevents the female from coming into season and therefore she will not have to be confined. It also prevents common diseases of the uterus such as pyometra. Desexing prior to the first heat greatly reduces the chance of mammary (breast) cancer.

Lifetime registration with the council is cheaper if your pet is desexed. All you will need is to show the sterilisation certificate to the council.

Are there any disadvantages?

It is a common fallacy that a desexed pet will become fat and lazy. Correct feeding of a premium diet (eg Hills Science Diet) without any extras should prevent obesity. Desexing at 6 months coincides with a reduced growth rate so it is important to reduce food intake. Desexing does not cause a pet to lose its character. Pets may be more gentle but they neither lose their spirit nor their intelligence. Playfulness and socialisation with humans are not changed.

Are there any complications from desexing?

Occasionally female dogs develop a weak bladder after being desexed. Usually this happens when they are older. The good news is that there is a very effective tasteless medication that can be added to the food to correct this problem. This doesn’t tend to happen in cats.

Is there an alternative to desexing?

There is now a non-surgical alternative for sterilising male dogs via an injectable implant called Suprelorin by Peptech. The same benefits are obtained as with surgical desexing but it is not permanent, so the implant will need to be repeated as the effect wears off. Permanent surgical castration for young male dogs is still considered to be superior, but it is good to have another option available.

When can I book my pet in for desexing?

Pets can be booked in for desexing from Monday to Friday. They are left with us in the morning between 7am and 9am (on an empty stomach) and collected the following day. All patients having surgery receive strong pain relief to maintain their comfort. Please ring us if you have any further queries or if you would like to make an appointment ph 9498 3000. Ask about the annual heartworm injection (available for dogs) which can be done at the same time.

Rabbits

Should I get my rabbit desexed?

All female rabbits should be desexed between 4-6 months to prevent pregnancy and unwanted babies as well as prevention of uterine cancer. Uterine cancer affects approximately 70% of female rabbits over 4 years of age and is usually fatal as it spreads rapidly to other organs such as the liver, lungs and the skin and is not treatable.

It is advised that male rabbits be desexed to avoid aggressive and territorial behaviour. This bad behaviour usually starts between the ages of 6-12 months and they often take out their aggression on you or their cagemates. Intact mature male rabbits are also 10 times more likely to spray urine on vertical surfaces to mark their territory. The urine has a particularly unpleasant odour.

Ferrets

Female ferrets are at risk of dying if they are not desexed. Since ferrets are induced ovulators, they remain in oestrus for long periods if they are not mated. This results in too much oestrogen being produced and the hormone eventually poisons the bone marrow, leading to oestrogen toxicosis and fatal anaemia.

The symptoms of oestrogen toxicosis are weakness, not eating, pale gums and haemorrhage. At this stage, the ferret is extremely sick and has a poor prognosis, often requiring multiple blood transfusions.

Oestrogen toxicosis and fatal anaemia is prevented by routine desexing of all female ferrets not intended for breeding by 6 months of age.

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