Spaying and Neutering

When where and who should do your pet’s desexing operation is the biggest decision a pet owner has to make in the first year of their new baby’s life. We would like to invite you to make an appointment for a “pre desexing” examination, and an opportunity to meet our team, inspect our facility, and put your mind at ease by answering any questions you might have. Our goal is to show case what we can offer and help you decide who should be your pet’s "vets for life”.

Why should I desex my female dog?

Female dogs who are not desexed will go through an ‘oestrus cycle’ or ‘heat’ usually every 6 months through into old age. Managing your ‘on heat’ female can be tricky, as male dogs will be scenting her pheromones from kilometres away… and let’s just say where there is a will there is a way!

Animal Refuges are full of puppies and adult dogs in need of homes, so unplanned litters are not in the best interest of animal welfare in general. In addition, there are many medical issues that can develop in ‘entire’ female dogs. From Mammary tumours, through to the dreadful like threatening condition known as pyometra, the list is long.

Online, you will find discussion and debate presenting arguments for and against desexing female dogs. Our vets recommend desexing primarily for the sake of our patients. We feel that desexing contributes enormously to allowing our female dog patients to stay well longer in to old age, whilst avoiding preventable medical conditions, without having an impact on their personality, behaviour or ‘life experience’.

Should I let my female dog have one heat?

Having one heat has no psychological benefit for a female dog and will increase the risk of mammary tumours developing later in life, when compared to being desexed before the first heat. So we recommend NO to having a heat.

Should I let my female dog have one litter?

We don’t recommend dog owners let their bitch have one litter, if they feel they are doing so for the dog’s sake.

Like becoming a mother for the first time, giving birth and coping with that first 6 weeks is a profound learning experience for any female dog. Young females who have a litter may grow up in a hurry, but the experience will not change their personality or behaviour in the long term. It won’t settle a hyperactive pup any more than what you would expect from maturity and wisdom gained with time.

Given that there are an oversupply of puppies and adult dogs in refuges, and the potential for unexpected complications with giving birth or rearing puppies, we recommend NO to having a litter, if the reason is purely to force her to grow up fast.

What is the best age to desex my female dog?

Our vets believe that the best time to desex a female dog is as late as possible before her first heat. It is impossible to accurately predict when an individual will have her first heat. She will be influenced by many factors including the season, exposure to other dogs, and her inherited genetic traits. In general, it will be between 7-9 months for the smaller females and later for the bigger breeds.

  • Hence, for small dogs, up to an adult body weight of 20kg, we recommend desexing at 6 months old. 
  • For larger dogs, we recommend leaving it a little while longer, so about 8-9 months.

If your female dog comes on heat before you have a chance to desex her, then we recommend leaving the operation until at least 3 weeks after the heat has fully subsided. We prefer not to desex females when they are on heat, as all the hormonal activity makes the procedure more complicated and recovery can take be a longer.

Why should I desex my male dog?

We recommend desexing male dogs, but this discussion is not as cut and dried as with females. One size doesn’t fit all. The most compelling medical reason for desexing male dogs is hat the majority of male dogs over the age of 8 will have a degree of prostatic hyperplasia. This can become severe and life threatening, or it can be managed medically with the help of anti- testosterone implants or injections.

From a behavioural point of view, desexing a male dog settles them but does not change their personality. Desexing subdues the distraction of a world full of betwitching pheromones which frequently lead male dogs into trouble!

Desexing helps them to focus on their family unit, and their loyalty to their owner. Some entire male dogs are ‘testosterone toxic’, intent on marking and strutting about dominating their territory and taking on any challenge they are faced with. Others are chilled out and laid back and want to be ‘lovers not fighters’. Predictably, if not managed, the first type can cause problems for their owners. Paradoxically, the second type can be tricky to manage too, by no fault of their own. Despite their laid-back behaviour, other dogs will often perceive an entire male as being a challenge and a threat, and will become agitated and aggressive, and may initiate a fight.

Is there an alternative to desexing?

There is a great alternative to a surgical desexing operation for male dogs in the form of an implant that supresses testosterone and fertility for 12 months. We often recommend this for dogs who are to be used for breeding in the future, or when there are behavioural or prostatic issues and their owner is not keen on surgically desexing their pet.

How old should I desex my male dog?

Similarly to female dogs, we recommend that male dogs who will have an adult body weight of up to 20kg be desexed at 6 months old, but that larger breeds are left a little later. For the larger breeds, 8-10 months is more appropriate, whereas for the laid back giant breeds, we will often recommend leaving desexing until they are over 12 months old, so long as no behavioural concerns exist.

Size Breed Female Male
Small to medium Chihuahua, Jack Russel, Poodle, Dashcund, Foxie, Bichon, Shih Tzu, Cavie, Spoodle, Cocker Spaniel 6 months 6 months
Medium Border Collie, Staffie, Kelpie 6-7 months 7-8 months
Large German Shephard, Rotty, Ridgeback 7-8 months 8-9 months
Giant breeds Great Dane, St Bernarnd 7-9 months 10+ months

This is a general guide only. Physical and behavioural and developmental factors can impact on the most appropriate time to desex a dog. 

If you are not sure when is the right time to desex your pet, or who should be his or her ‘vets for life’ we are happy to offer the opportunity to have a free ‘pre desex’ consultation with one of our vets, to meet us and inspect our state of the art facility. You’ll be glad you did!

What does desexing my dog or cat involve?

  1. Our patients come in between 8 and 9am, and their owners get an opportunity to meet the team who will be looking after their baby for the day.
  2. Once our patient is settled in to the hospital, we give them a thorough ‘physical exam’, and get them on a drip to enhance their circulation in preparation for the procedure.
  3. We usually take blood at this time to do a pre anaesthetic blood screen, and give our patients a ‘premed’ just like we would have in hospital ourselves. (In fact we use mostly the same medications as used by human anaesthetists.)
  4. A little while later, we induce anaesthesia in the induction area, then transfer our patients to the surgical suite for the procedure.
  5. The operation for our canine patients takes about 20 minutes of surgical time for the boys and about double that for the girls.
  6. For our feline patients, the boys take about 10 minutes, and girls take about 25 minutes.
  7. Towards the end of the op, we place a tattoo in each patient’s left ear.
  8. This is required of us by law, and is an indelible mark to show that this individual has been desexed.
  9. After surgery, our patients are transferred into the recovery area where they are nursed until they regain wakefulness, and are then settled back into their comfy beds. (Here in lies the part of a vet nurse’s job that is solely focused on cuddling.)
  10. At this stage we give their owners a ring to reassure them that the procedure is done and arrange a pick up time later in the day.
  11. When our patients are fully awake, we take them off the drip and reassure them that all is well in the world and that they won’t ever miss any bits they may now be missing!
  12. Home time is usually between 4:30 and 5:30pm, and our dog patients go home with some pain relief tablets to take over the next couple of days, and often an Elizabethan collar to stop them chewing at their sutures.
  13. The cats usually don’t need an Elizabethan collar, and the pain relief injection we give them during surgery lasts a couple of days.
  14. Some patients run out the door as if nothing has happened, and others get upset by the new sensation of something a bit ouchy going on ‘down there’!
  15. We encourage owners to inspect the surgical wound a couple of times a day, and keep a look out for excessive licking or chewing at the site.
  16. Excluding the boy cats, who don’t go home with any external stitches, we get owners to bring the patient back in 10-12 days for suture removal.
  17. We caution owners to make sure their pets are not exercised too much, and avoid swimming or bathing before the stitches come out.
  18. After that, its’s back to the beach!