Desexing is a surgical procedure performed on animals to stop unwanted litters and unwanted behaviour such as urine spraying, marking territory. Desexing has traditionally been done at six months of age. This was performed before the ﬁrst heat in females and in males before testicular maturity. Sunshine Coast Regional Council still goes by these guidelines. Lately, scientiﬁc research and statistical analysis of animal health, has changed our opinion on desexing times for dogs. We still recommend desexing at six months for cats.
It appears that early desexed dogs may have more health problems later on in life. At CPVS we believe that it may be better not to desex actively growing dogs. Maturity relates to the size of the animal eg Great Danes will mature at about ﬁfteen months, while Chihuahuas will mature at about eight months of age. We generally recommend desexing females between the first and second heat which for most dogs is between 1 and 2 years of age. Very small dogs can be desexed from around 9 months of age.
Later desexing can cause a few problems for the owner which are:
1. Females can get pregnant. Male dogs can hang around your house.
2. Your pet can escape looking for a mate.
3. Female dogs will bleed in the ﬁrst part of the oestrus.
4. Cost of late desexing is increased, mainly in females. This is due to the size of the uterus which has to be removed.
5. Higher council fees of registration for non desexed dogs.
The decision about the best time for desexing is still being debated. It is up to you to decide when you would like to get your pet desexed. If you have any questions about desexing please talk to one of our vets.
Our desexing service is available Monday to Friday. Desexing is performed under general anaesthesia, with sterile instruments and is a surgical day procedure. This means that most pets are able to go home the evening following the procedure, providing they can be confined and supervised.
In the female, the medical term for desexing is called an ovariohysterectomy. The procedure involves a surgical incision into the abdominal cavity and the removal of both ovaries and the uterus. Although routinely performed, the procedure is not to be taken lightly. It is quite invasive, and animals do require additional care to their normal needs during the two week recovery period.
Desexing your pet is recommended for both medical and behavioural reasons. Female dogs and cats are susceptible to mammary tumours, infections, pyometra and cancers of the reproductive tract if they remain entire, even when the risk of pregnancy is controlled by solitary lifestyles. They do not go through menopause in old age, but their reproductive cycle can become erratic and sub-clinical, leading to infection risks.
The castration or orchidectomy procedure is a bit simpler to conduct than the ovariohysterectomy. It involves the surgeon surgically removing both testicles from the animal's scrotum. The recovery period is no shorter than the girls, and does require strict rest, confinement, and supervision.
Desexing male dogs avoids the risks of prostate problems, testicular cancer and testosterone related skin conditions and hernias that can occur with maturity. Desexing male dogs also allows them to lead a more settled, less frustrated life. The way we keep and socialise our dogs in small spaces mean entire males become the focus of unwanted attention. Dominance and territory issues change constantly and cannot be adequately interpreted or predicted by us. Injury, recrimination and liability can be avoided by responsible management of our pets’ reproductive status.
Desexing entire male cats also reduces the risk testicular cancer and prostate problems. As well as reduces spraying behaviour, fighting and roaming. Undesexed males will often try to enlarge their territory, so spraying and roaming behaviour are prevalent and this is when they can get into accidents and nasty fights.
Medical, rather than surgical desexing is another option now available for male dogs. A testosterone suppressing implant can be injected every six or twelve months to provide the same benefits of surgical desexing while retaining the anatomy! The implant gradually dissolves and must be re-injected regularly to maintain the effect, and therefore is reversible when necessary.