Neutering Your Pet: A Veterinarian’s Perspective

By Dr. Cecilia Boklin, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Kinabalu Animal Clinic.

What does neutering mean?
 

Neutering: The removal of an animal’s reproductive organ, either all of it or a considerably large part.

Spaying: To sterilize (a female animal) by removing the ovaries and uterus.

Castration: The removal of the testicles of a male animal.

Generally speaking, the layman’s term for neutered animal is “fixed”.

For many, many, different reasons, the decision to neuter your pet can be the most important. And it is equally important for veterinarians to provide recommendations and sound advice so that pet owners can make more informed decisions on neutering and the nuances on when to neuter.

Why should you get your pet “fixed”?
 

Behavioural Changes

  • When a male animal is neutered, they usually become less aggressive and territorial, resulting in a calmer, happier dog.
  • The removal of the reproductive organs lowers their testosterone level, which helps to alleviate marking & mating behaviours (e.g. spraying in male cats & humping in male dogs), aggression, and destructive impulses.
  • A behavior that is often observed that can be extremely dangerous for intact male dogs is escaping from their homes in an effort to find a female to mate with. On unfortunate circumstances, some escapees ended up injured and died when they wander onto busy streets and highways (due to road accidents, hit by car, etc.).
  • So with a decrease in testosterone as a result of neutering, these behaviours also decrease.
  • For female animals, once spayed, the risk of them reproducing is eliminated, and the chances of them developing reproductive cancers are also greatly lowered and thus increasing their lifespan.

Overpopulation.

 
  • Ultimately, the goal of neutering pets is to prevent them from reproducing.
  • The overpopulation of cats and dogs is plaguing shelters all over the world, leaving them over-full and unable to effectively care for all of their animals.
  • The strain on our shelters and communities can be alleviated by neutering our pets, stopping them from reproducing and adding to the overwhelming numbers of strays or worse, the “homeless pets”.

Important points to keep in mind on why your veterinarian recommends neutering your pet.

 
  • To reduce spraying and marking
  • To reduce roaming
  • To reduce aggression
  • To lower risk of cancer
  • To decrease over population
  • To increase lifespan up to 3-5 years

The hard truth.

 
  • The average number of litter a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2
  • The average number of puppies in a canine litter: 6 to 10
  • The average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year: 3
  • The average number of kittens in a feline litter: 4 to 6
  • So basically in 3 years, and as early as 4 months old, 1 non-spayed female and 1 non-castrated male can produce 512 (dogs) and 382 (cats)!
  • Many people don’t know that cats can go into heat and got pregnant by 4 months and dogs by 5 months.
  • According to research, 10 million animals worldwide enter overcrowded shelters every year.
  • 90% of animals entering shelters aren’t fixed.
  • 4-6 million are put to sleep.
  • Euthanasia kills more companion animals than any other disease.

When should the surgery be done?

 
  • In veterinary practice, it is generally recommended to neuter pets at about 6 months old. The aim is to avoid your pet entering puberty and especially the first heat cycle in female pets.
  • If your pet has been following a vaccination schedule beginning at 6 – 8 weeks, they should be fully vaccinated. Having completed all of their vaccines, it is much safer for them in an animal hospital.
  • Waiting until they are six months old also allows their internal organs to fully form and gives them time to reach a higher body weight, making it much safer for them to undergo anesthesia.
  • Studies have also shown that younger pets endure the healing process more easily than older pets.

However, the general recommended time to neuter are not the only ones out there. Some shelters that are filled with unwanted pets understandably neuter at any age before the pet is adopted.

But even if we put this organizational preferences aside, the question of when to neuter has certainly become more complex as a result of scientific research. For example, consider a large breed female puppy at a veterinary practice for the first time. There is a good literature to support spaying at 6 months to seriously minimize the risk of mammary neoplasia (cancer). However, a veterinarian could also recommend spaying at or past 1 year of age to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disease. Another factor to keep in mind here is that possible complications increase with a large breed female dog the older it becomes.

So just like people, no two pets are alike. Always keep in mind the importance of discussing neutering with your pet’s veterinarian to evaluate the benefits and timing of the surgery in regards to your pet’s well-being.

It is important to state here as a public awareness message that the era of one-size-fits-all neutering advice has come to an end. It’s time to move from recommendations to conversations. Now we need conversations between the veterinarian and the pet owner about the many nuances of neutering, so pet owners can make more informed decisions.

For more information about this topic, kindly get in touch with Kinabalu Animal Clinic at 088-385804 or visit their clinic at Kinabalu Animal Clinic, Lot 6, Lorong Durian 3, Kian Yap Industrial Estate, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. 

Follow them on Facebook or visit their website at www.kinabaluvet.com

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. At Parents Avenue, we strongly recommend all our readers to seek medical advise from your local animal clinic. Thank you. 

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