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Should you desex your dogs and cats?

Dogs and cats are able to reproduce at a very young age and multiple times throughout their lives. Desexing has many health and behavioural benefits for your pet and also assists in avoiding accidental litters.

Every year in Australia’s shelters and pounds take in thousands of dogs and cats, many of these the result of unplanned pregnancies. It is a sad reality that many of these animals are euthanized as there are just not enough homes available. By desexing your pet, unplanned pregnancies are no longer a possibility. Your vet will be able to advise you of the best age for desexing to avoid unwanted pregnancies; however this procedure can be performed as early as eight weeks of age.

Apart from avoiding unplanned pregnancy, desexing also has benefits for your pets’ health and behaviour.

In dogs, desexing:

  • reduces the chance of mammary cancer
  • removes the risk of life threatening uterine infections and pregnancy related problems
  • reduces the risk of prostate enlargement
  • reduces the urge for your dog to wander to find a mate
  • can help reduce aggressive behaviours

In cats, desexing:

  • reduces the risk of mammary cancer
  • will stop the strong “in season” behaviours shown by females
  • reduce urine spraying
  • reduce roaming behaviours
  • reduce fighting tendencies
  • reduce the chance of accident, injury and disease associated with roaming eg car accidents, contracting Feline Aids Virus due to fighting.

The ideal time for desexing cats is before they become sexually mature. This can happen at quite a young age. Ideally desexing should happen prior to 5 months of age.
The timing for dogs to become sexually mature varies with breed. Generally desexing is recommended prior to 6 months of age. Even older pets can be desexed! These days the modern anaesthetics available are safe for most healthy, older animals and behaviour and health benefits are routinely seen in these animals after being desexed.

The desexing operation is very common and performed daily in most clinics. Most pets will fully recover within 24 hours and feel minimal discomfort. Talk to your vet today about what's involved in having your pet desexed, and how to care for your pet after their procedure.