Neutering your pet

by Yolande Howell

Neutering means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. In males it is commonly referred to as castration and in females it is referred to as spaying.

Neutering can be done on common pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits and rodents. It is best to discuss this with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to advise you when the best time is to neuter your pet.

The procedures are done under general anaesthesia, and you will be amazed how well animals recover from their operations.

The benefits of neutering are numerous. First and foremost we want to control overpopulation of animals — each year thousands of animals end up homeless in shelters and are euthanised. Homeless cats are also culled by trapping and shooting in many places in New Zealand.

Secondly, diseases such as testicular cancer in males and mammary cancer in females may be prevented by neutering.

Talk to your vet and discuss when the best time is to neuter your pet to prevent these conditions.

Thirdly, neutering reduces, and can eliminate, unwanted behaviours. These include urine spraying or marking. Animals are also less likely to roam and escape your property once they are neutered as hormones play a huge role in this sort of behaviour, and a female in season can attract a lot of unwanted attention in the neighbourhood. Many animals are also more settled and calmer once neutered and in some cases it will dramatically reduce aggressive behaviour.

Fourthly, a female dog in season can lead to unwanted matings, false pregnancies and also it is really messy.

A bitch in season can bleed for up to three weeks.

Fifthly, if you have pet siblings that are not neutered, they are likely to mate.

Animals don’t have the same respect as humans to family relationships. Siblings will mate with each other and in-bred offspring are prone to birth defects and deformities.

In addition, there are lots of common myths or old wives tales regarding neutering such as:

“My pet is going to miss his testicles and he’ll be less of a man” — No, animals do not have any sentimental attachment to their reproductive organs.

And no, animals do not have egos like humans do.

“My pet is going to get fat after neutering” — Their metabolism may change but with the appropriate diet and feeding habits, weight gain is preventable.

“I heard that it is better to let her to have one litter first” — There is no benefit to your pet’s health in having a litter. There are too many animals out there already.

“I want my children to experience the miracle of birth” — Children should be taught how precious life is and to look after their pets well. Allowing their pet to have pups or kittens is teaching them that animals can be given away or sold as commodities.

So please be a responsible owner and neuter your pet. 

There are too many animals that end up in rescue centres and shelters around the world and they can’t all be saved.