Neutering in pets is really important if you do not plan on breeding from them. There are health issues through not neutering your pet. With bitches, this could be uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, or a pyometra. If you have them spayed, then all of those diseases cannot happen. With a dog, testicular tumours and some prostate problems are avoided if your dog is castrated. The normal age from which we would neuter a dog is about six months. We can neuter at any age, but to begin with, the first age would be about six months. With a bitch, some people will neuter before they have had a season, and some will spay after they have had a season. There are pros and cons with both, and this is something that you would want to discuss with your vet. However, if they have had a season you need to be waiting for at least two to three months after that season is finished to spay them. The reason for this is because when they are in season the uterus is very vascular, it is very friable, very fragile, so it is a much safer and lower risk operation if we can wait for those two to three months after the season is finished. With a dog, a male dog, there is no time preference, so castration can happen at any time from the six months of age.
With cats, we do neuter, we spay and we castrate, and we can do this anywhere from about five months of age. There are certain situations where we would neuter younger. If they were stray cats and they were in a neutering scheme in a certain area where people were trying to prevent further kittens from being born, then they may be caught and taken in to be neutered and then re-released or re-homed at an earlier age to prevent more and more cats being born.
Post-operatively, there is about a seven to 10-day window where you need to be quite careful with your pet. Some pets will have stitches on their wounds, outside of their neuter wounds. A lot of them now will have all internal stitches, however that does not mean that the wounds cannot come open. You need to be very careful that your pet does not lick at their wounds, which would be their natural instinct to do that because they will want to clean the area, and it may be that it is slightly uncomfortable for them, so they may want to tell you they are uncomfortable by licking or chewing or even scratching at the site of the wound. Many neuterings will go home with pain relief to try and prevent any discomfort so that they leave their wounds alone, but it is still possible that they might want to clean that area up.
This is why a lot of animals post-neutering will come home with a Buster collar. The Buster collars are the ones that they wear around their necks that will cover over their heads, and this will hopefully prevent them from turning around and being able to lick at their wounds.
The other consideration is exercise after neutering. So these wounds, they will have muscle layers and skin layers, and if they run around or jump too much then there is a chance of a breakdown of those layers of the wounds. So it will always be a recommendation whether lead exercises your dog, or to not let your cat go outside for at least a week after the surgery.
Finally, the last consideration is feeding. So this is more so in dogs than it is in cats, but if you continue to feed your dog at the same quantity as you did before they were neutered, you may find that there is a high risk of them becoming overweight. So it is really important to continue to monitor your pet’s weight after they have been neutered and adjust your feeding regime as necessary.
There are some other reasons why you may want to neuter your pets. So in male dogs, for example, there may be behaviour issues that may improve if you neuter them. As your dog gets older, the chance of a castration improving their behaviour gets less likely. So if there are behaviour issues, early castration is important. With bitches, you may have a bitch that has a false pregnancy after a season, and that will be that they will start to show nesting behaviour, they may start to hide shoes as if they were their own puppies. They may develop milk as if they were trying to feed a litter of puppies. If this happens time and time again after a season, the way to stop this from happening is to get your bitch neutered because then they won’t be able to have any more false pregnancies.