Neuter Awareness Month - Why Neuter Your Pet?

As February marks Neuter Awareness Month, we’ve dedicated this week's blog to highlight the benefits, debunk the myths and explain the significance of neutering pets.


What is Neutering?


Neutering is a term used to describe the surgical procedure that prevents pets from reproducing. Whilst the term neutering can be applied to both genders, castration is generally used to describe the ‘desexing’ of male animals. Whereas the term spay or hysterectomy applies to the surgical sterilization of a female.


Castration - This is when a veterinary surgeon removes a pets testicles through an incision on the front of their scrotum. The procedure stops the male from being able to impregnate a female. It also lowers their testosterone hormone levels, as the testicles are the main source of their hormone testosterone.


Spaying/ hysterectomy - This is when the veterinarian will surgically remove the ovaries and uterus so she can't become pregnant and will no longer have seasons.


These surgeries are performed whilst the animal is under general anaesthesia. In most cases, you will be asked to take your pet to the practice in the morning for the operation and will be reunited with them later that day after monitoring.


What Are the Pros of Neutering?


Health Benefits:

Neutering has significant health benefits for your pet.


For females, neutering can significantly reduce the risk of reproductive organ cancers such as ovarian cancer. It can also decrease breast cancer and eliminate the chance of them developing pyometra (a serious and potentially fatal, womb infection common in unneutered, female dogs) as well as unwanted pregnancies.


Similarly, neutering a male animal can prevent and reduce the risk of both pancreatic cancer and prostatic disease. It also eliminates the chances of them developing testicular cancer or non-cancerous testicular tumours. For cats, in particular, it can reduce their lifelessness to roam and get into fights and therefore reduces the risk of injuries, abscessed and diseased transmitted through biting.


Neutering can also increase the longevity of your pet. Results from the Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2013 Report, found a positive correlation between neutering dogs and cats and their life span. The study, which was carried out on around 2.5 million animals (2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats), indicated that neutered cats lived up to 39% longer and neutered dogs live 23% longer than their unneutered counterparts.


Behavioural Reasons:

Having your pet neutered at an early age can also help with behavioural problems as it can stabilize a pet’s hormone levels.


Males that are neutered are less likely to be dominating and aggressive to other animals or people. They will also be less likely to ‘mark their territory by urinating in the home and be less likely to roam or seek females in heat with the desire to breed.


Neutering can also help females behaviour as it stops them from being in season. Quite often female animals are stressed when in season (which can be for several months in a year), so being spayed can alleviate this. Neutering also reduces the chances of females having phantom pregnancies (a condition that causes a dog to act and feel pregnant when they aren’t) which can be very stressful for them and cause lethargy, depression, anxiety, clinginess and a loss of appetite. Studies have found that around half of all female dogs will have a phantom pregnancy unless they are neutered. Once a female has had one phantom pregnancy it is also likely they will have another and best to spay them before their next season. A female dog cannot be spayed whilst in season, however, a veterinarian will check for signs of this before operating.


Other Benefits:

Notably, the biggest benefit from neutering your pet is the fact it prevents unwanted litters which in turn helps alleviate the dog and cat overpopulation problem.


Although it is a procedure that often isn’t covered by insurance, it can still help you save money in the long run by preventing other diseases, cancers, ailments and unwanted litters.


Lastly, due to the lack of seasons, and desire to mark territory, neutering can help keep your house cleaner!



When to Neuter Your Pet:

At Roundwood, we are able to advise you on the best time to neuter your pet.


Typically speaking for dogs, castration can be carried out from six to nine months. For bigger breeds, it is recommended that they should finish growing completely before being neutered - this can be up to 15 months old. For bitches', the ideal time to spay will be based on their breed and size and is best to be determined by your veterinarian who can discuss the pro’s and con’s of neutering before their first season.


For cats, it's recommended that they are neutered at around four to six months old after completing their primary vaccinations.


Common Misconceptions


Neutering Causes Obesity

Neutering will not cause your pet to become overweight. However, due to hormonal and psychological changes after neutering, you may notice a difference in your pet’s metabolism and appetite, that can make them prone to weight gain. However, with the correct exercise and diet, this should be easily maintained and should not affect your pet’s weight.


My Pet’s Personality Will Change

Neutering generally only reduces undesirable behaviours such as aggression or in females, hormone-related anxiety and moodiness. The biggest change in their personality will be that it becomes more level and consistent.


Another myth is that neutering your pet (particularly dogs) will take away their want to protect you. However, a dog’s personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones. Having your pet neutered should not alter this.


This goes hand in hand with the myth that neutered male dogs are ‘less of a man’. Luckily, unlike us, pets do not have any concept of sexual identity or ego and your pet will most definitely not have an identity crisis!



For more advice on getting your pet neutered, call us on 020 8459 4729 or email us at help@roundwoodvets.co.uk.


Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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