Tomorrow (26 February) will be the 25th annual World Spay Day – an international event to raise awareness of the importance of neutering.
Neutering a pet means removing the reproductive organs – for females this is often referred to as spaying and involves removing the ovaries and womb. In makes, this involves removing the testicles, and is also known as castration.
This prevents unplanned litters at a time when rescue and rehoming centres are already full to bursting.
PDSA Vet, Olivia Anderson explains the health benefits of neutering your pets: “Spaying female cats and dogs prevent or reduce the risk of serval life-threatening illnesses including preventing cancer of the womb and ovaries, as well as pyometra – a very serious womb infection.
“In males, castration prevents illnesses such as testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate disease. In male cats, castration can also reduce the instinct to roam and fight other cats, which in turn reduces their exposure to nasty injuries and diseases such as FIV. It can also reduce their habit of spraying indoors, something every cat owner dreads.
“For rabbits, neutering reduces fighting, enabling them to live together in harmony, while also preventing unplanned litters. This allows them to have companionship, which is vital for them to be happy and healthy.”
The PDSA Pet Care Column says that despite the benefits, more than 3.5 million dogs and cats in the UK remain un-neutered. So, the PDSA have tackled some of the most common myths around this.
Myth: my pet should have a litter before being neutered.
Reality: untrue. There is no evidence to show any benefit to your pet not having a litter first. In fact, in many cases the earlier your pet is neutered, the more health benefits there are.
Myth: my pet needs to have a season first before she can be neutered.
Reality: untrue for cats, but for dogs it’s not clear cut. Cats can be neutered from as young as four months old, as they become sexually mature soon after this. There is no known health benefits to allowing female cats to have a season first.
For female dogs, speak to your vet for advice about what’s best for your individual dog, a it will depend on their breed, size and other factors. Most dogs can be neutered from as young as six months old. For some dogs there might be some benefits to allowing them to go through ‘puberty’ though this isn’t clear cut so ask your vet if you’re not sure.
Myth: neutering is invasive and risky surgery.
Reality: Neutering is a routine operation carried out by vets on a daily basis. For female cats the operation usually lasts around 20 minutes, while for males it is under 20 minutes. For dogs the operation is around 30 minutes for males and about an hour for females. For rabbits, females take around 45 minutes and males take around 20 minutes.
The PDSA advise that your pet will be given pain relief to keep them comfortable and the vast majority will be able to go home the same day, recovering very quickly.
For more information about neutering you can visit www.pdsa.org.uk/neutering.