Speying or neutering a bitch involves removing her ovaries and her womb under general anaesthesia via an incision behind her umbilicus (belly button).

This is usually done before her first season at about 6 mths of age but it can be done later. In an adult bitch who is already having ‘heats’ or coming in season it is best to wait until about 12 weeks after the end of a season. The 12 week wait is to avoid doing it during a false pregnancy. (Speying during a false pregnancy can lead to unpleasant changes in behaviour) If your bitch has just had puppies it is advisable to wait until 16 weeks after giving birth or at least 8 weeks after weaning the pups completely. Some breeds are better off having a season first - Dobermanns, Old English Sheepdogs and Bearded Collies. Also individual animals who have  lots of urinary infections before their first season should talk to a Vet first. We don’t charge for pre spey checks or chats!

The advantages of speying are :-

No seasons with the associated mess and nuisance of male dogs hanging around

Reduced chance of mammary cancer - particularly if done before first season. Mammary cancer is very prevalent in middle aged to older bitches of all breeds but particularly in Jack Russells, Labradors, German Shepherds, Yorkies, Maltese Terriers ,Patterdale Terriers, Staffies, Mastiffs and Collies of all types.

Takes away risk of a condition called Pyometra. This is a big risk - about 1 in 9 unspeyed bitches will develop it. They usually develop it in middle to old age and get very ill. The uterus fills up with pus often to an astonishing amount. They need emergency hysterectomies to stay alive and the complication rate at that age is much higher.

Stops false pregnancies. About 10% of bitches will show signs of a false pregnancy after seasons. It usually starts with the second season and becomes more marked with age. In milder cases the symptoms are just going off food for a week to 14 days and carrying toys around. In severe cases they will nest with toys or shoes and can become very aggressive particularly if you touch the nest or try to force them to go out for a walk. They can produce milk and very occasionally will show signs of going into labour! All in all, something to be avoided if possible.

They live longer - on average about 10 to 12 months.

The disadvantages are:-

They tend to be fatter. It is necessary to feed neutered animals a bit less or a lower calorie food. It’s best to be disciplined straightaway and reduce the food by about 10%. We usually advise people to pop in to be weighed regularly in the first year post speying. We will keep a record and tell you if they are gaining too much.

A small number of bitches become incontinent with age because of a condition called SMI (sphincter mechanism incompetence). This develops a lot earlier if they are speyed. However it is usually easy to treat with hormone replacement or other therapies.

Male dogs

Male dogs can be neutered or castrated from 6 months of age. It is mainly done to stop unwanted sexual behaviour like wandering or excessive marking. It also reduces territorial aggression but rarely eliminates it. Castrated dogs are more relaxed with other males. However it doesn’t stop them being boisterous. It won’t calm a hyperactive dog down.

They also need to be fed a bit less and they also have a slightly longer life expectancy.

While castration suits most dogs there are exceptions. Dogs that are excessively timid and fearful or particularly dogs that are dominant aggressive with people. These dogs can benefit from behaviour modification but often become worse from castration. If you are unsure if it will suit your dog pop in for a chat.

Female cats (Queens):

Speying a female cat can be done at any age after 5 months. It is done under general anaesthesia and involves removing her ovaries and womb usually through a small incision in her flank. It doesn’t matter if they are already coming on heat (calling). The operation is a small one and they recover very rapidly.

The big advantage is that they stop coming in season and producing   lots of kittens. Queens mature early and can have a season every 3 weeks during the spring and autumn. They are very vocal in season and attract males from long distances. They are also very fertile and well capable of having 2 litters a year starting before they are a year themselves!

If you have 2 cats growing up together it is advisable to bring them both on the same day.

Male cats (Toms)

Usually done at 6 months once they look like an adult. It is a very simple procedure done under a short general anaesthetic. There is a dramatic difference in the behaviour of a neutered and  an unneutered tomcat.  Intact tom cats spray around the house and wander almost continually. They will go miles in search of females and will fight almost every male cat they meet. They suffer many bites and injuries and are very prone to diseases transmitted by mating like FIV ( cat AIDS ) and FeLV (a type of leukaemia). They have about half the life expectancy of a castrated cat. They also have a very strong odour!



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