Desexing is an effective strategy to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The RSPCA receives over 125,000 animals every year and many of these unwanted animals are the result of unplanned breeding.
What is desexing and how is it done?
A qualified veterinarian performs routine surgery to remove the animal’s reproductive organs in order to prevent breeding. In males this is called castration and in females it is called spaying.
Why should I have my pet desexed?
Desexing not only helps to ensure fewer unwanted and homeless animals, but also research shows that desexed animals can actually live longer and healthier lives.
Desexing also provides many other benefits for you and your pet:
- Desexing your pet can reduce the risks of some potentially serious health problems. For example, desexed pets are less likely to get mammary cancer and will not get uterine infections or have false pregnancies.
- Desexing prevents reproductive cycle behaviours such as your female cat ‘calling’ when she is on heat/in season, yowling and crying, often at night. This can be very distressing, noisy, and unpleasant, particularly if your cat is in the house. Undesexed female dogs will often bleed from their vulva when they are on heat/in season, while male dogs will often be very persistent in their attempts to get to females who are on heat/in season.
- Desexing eliminates the risks involved with your pet being pregnant, giving birth, and raising young. Risks include eclampsia (in which the mother’s calcium levels become dangerously low causing weakness, muscle tremors, and even seizures), loss of the foetuses (which can also result in severe infection if the dead foetuses are retained in the uterus), a difficult birth (called dystocia, which can be due to problems with the mother or young and is generally due to either obstruction of the birth canal or a problem with the uterine muscle that makes the muscle unable to contract well enough to push the young out of the uterus; these complications may result in your pet needing a c-section where the young are removed from the uterus surgically by a veterinarian), and infections of the uterus or mammary glands.
- Desexed animals are generally less likely to roam; this reduces the risk of them being involved in a traumatic accident such as being hit by a car, getting into fights, and them being exposed to infectious disease through fighting.
- Desexed animals are also less likely to show aggressive behaviour than undesexed animals. This means they are less likely to fight with other animals in your household and the neighbourhood.
- Desexing your pets means that they will not display behaviours that are associated with the reproductive cycle that can be distressing, unpleasant, and tiresome to deal with. For example, female cats ‘calling’ or female dogs having a blood vaginal discharge when they are on heat/in season and male dogs attempting vigorously to get to females in heat.
- Desexed animals are less likely to scent mark by urinating on things, compared to undesexed animals.
Some states and local councils require that domestic cats are desexed by a certain age (the age varies between jurisdictions). You can find more information on which states/territories have mandatory desexing of dogs and cats here.