Desexing or surgical sterilisation of dogs is a common surgical procedure that is routinely performed at veterinary clinics and hospitals every day. Even though the procedure is commonplace, it is still a significant surgery requiring a considerable level of skill by the veterinarian and importantly it requires a general anaesthesia. For these reasons it is vital for dog owners to fully understand why desexing their pet may be necessary and exactly what the desexing procedure entails.
Desexing of male dogs is known by several different names. These include castration, neutering or the more correct scientific term, orchiectomy.
For female dogs the procedure is commonly called spaying. Its correct name is ovariohysterectomy.
What are the advantages of desexing a dog?
There are a number of important reasons why this surgical procedure is recommended by veterinarians for the vast majority of dog owners. These reasons include:
Each year thousands of unwanted dogs and puppies are euthanased at pounds and shelters throughout Australia. By desexing your dog you remove the potential of it siring or producing puppies that may contribute to the stray pet population.
Castrating male dogs greatly reduces the chances of the dog developing prostate problems such as prostatic enlargement (that can lead to problem urinating and defaecating) and prostate cancer. It also decreases the likelihood of dogs developing tumours around the anal area and a particular type of hernia called a perineal hernia. In addition, it completely eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer as these are removed during the castration operation.
It’s not just male dogs that benefit medically from being desexed. When female dogs are spayed it removes the chances of them developing a life-threatening infection in the uterus called pyometron. It also greatly reduces the chances of them developing mammary and vaginal cancer later in life and eliminates the possibility of them developing ovarian and uterine cancer as well as ovarian cysts.
Desexed female dogs do not come into season every six months and so do not bleed or attract male dogs. Menstruating female dogs can cause erratic behaviour in males, who will try anything to get to her!
Desexing commonly reduces or in some cases prevents unwanted behavioural conditions such as inappropriate urination and marking such as territory marking, aggression, escaping, roaming and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Unfortunately, many conditions that we see in dogs, particularly in pure-breed dogs, are heritable. This means they can be passed down to the next generation. Desexing a dog with a heritable condition removes that dog from the gene pool and potentially contributes to the reduced incidence of the disease.
By law all dogs are required to be registered with the local council. All councils charge additional fees for non-desexed dogs and these fees can be substantially higher than for desexed dogs.
When can a dog be desexed?
The reality is that dogs can be desexed from as early as 6-8 weeks of age, however we recommend and prefer they undergo the procedure when they around six months of age. For those larger breeds of dog that are predisposed to a condition called hip dysplasia (e.g. Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds) we recommend desexing them at four months of age. This allows us to assess their hips at a young age and take action early should we detect a problem. Our veterinary team is able to advise you the best age for desexing your dog.
What does dog desexing cost?
The cost of dog desexing depends on its sex and weight, as well as the presence of other health issues that may affect the operation. Additional charges for preanaesthetic blood tests and intravenous fluids apply. Please contact us to get further information about the costs of desexing your dog.