Why desex my pet? July 07 2014

Did you know that literally thousands and thousands of unwanted cats and dogs are euthanised in Australia’s pounds and shelters each week due to pet overpopulation? And that cats are able to fall pregnant as young at 4 months old?
Desexing your pet is a crucial part of being a responsible pet parent. There are a number of benefits for your pet, your family and the community.
 
What do we mean by desexing?
Surgical desexing involves removing part of the reproductive system of an animal whilst under a general anaesthetic. There are many different names to describe this procedure but the correct word in females is spay or an ovario-hysterectomy and in males it is castration or neutering.
 
Why desex your pets?
Veterinarians recommend desexing to prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. This is especially important for cats, as it is not always possible to tell when she is ‘on call'. In female dogs, desexing automatically stops their cycles and the associated bleeding and attention from male dogs. Castration helps to control male dominance aggression problems and also reduces their wandering instincts if a bitch in the neighbourhood is on heat. Uncastrated tomcats have a tendency to roam and fight, leading to cat bite abscesses.
 
Medical benefits of desexing
There are also significant medical reasons for desexing. Spaying performed before two years of age reduces the risk of mammary tumours (which are very invasive). Tumours of the ovaries, uterus and cervix, and pyometra (a gross infection of the uterus) can be prevented. Castration reduces the risk of prostatic disease, perianal tumours, and eliminates the risk of testicular cancers. Desexing may also be recommended in your pet to prevent hereditary diseases being passed on, or for treatment of some diseases such as prostatic hypertrophy or pyometra.
 
Some common misconceptions about desexing
Misconception 1: "Females should have a litter before being desexed." This is not necessary for your pet's benefit. Spaying a dog before her first heat will reduce the risk of mammary cancer to nearly zero
.
Misconception 2: "Desexing will make my pet fat." By removing organs that produce hormones your pet's metabolism may be slowed, it's overfeeding your pet that will make it fat.
Misconception 3: "Pets become lazy after they are desexed." There is generally no change in the character of your dog. Young males will be less inclined to mount objects and jump the fence.
Misconception 4: "Desexing a trained guard dog will reduce his/her ability to guard." Guarding results from instinctive territorial behaviour... it is not changed by desexing.
Misconception 5: "I don't want to desex my dog because he will miss it." Desexing animals at six months means they do not have a chance to develop mating behaviours. Dogs are an important part of the family, but remember - they are not human!
 
Behavioural benefits
Behavioural problems can have medical implications. For example a wandering male dog is more likely to be involved in an out of home accident such as a motor vehicle accident. We frequently see entire male cats with cat abscesses caused by territorial fighting. Here are a few of the important behavioural benefits of desexing:
 
Dogs 
  • Helps to control male dominance aggression problems
  • Reduces the instinct to wander and seek female partners for male dogs 
  • Reduces male territorial marking 
Cats 
  • Reduces a tomcats tendency to roam 
  • Reduces a tomcats tendency to spray and mark 
  • Desexed male cats are less likely to fight which reduces the likelihood of cat bite infections such as cat abscesses and the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
 
Animal Welfare League NSW Veterinary hospital at Kemps Creek is running a special desexing campaign this month offering discount pet desexing to financially disadvantaged members of the community.
For more information, please ask contact the Veterinary Hospital on 8777 4424 or vetclinic@awlnsw.com.au.