There are many confusing facts around desexing - when is the right time, what are the risks and what are the consequences? The thought of putting your pet under a general anaesthetic can also be a scary and daunting process, made even more so with the number of myths circulating. To help you in your decision on whether to desex your pet or not we've gathered the most common myths and debunked them.
Debunking the myths
There are many myths and claims surrounding desexing, also known as spaying, sterilisation, neutering or castrating. These are the top five myths about cat and dog desexing that are currently circulating.
Myth 1: Pets should have one litter before being desexed
There is no evidence to suggest pets benefit from having a litter before being desexed. In fact there are a number of risks to your pet if she does have a litter that should be considered when making the decision to desex your pet. These include potential problems with pregnancy and birthing difficulties. It is also better for your pet not to have any litters before being desexed, as her risk of developing mammary cancer significantly increases after her first litter. Desexing before their second heat actually reduces the risk of mammary cancer to almost zero.
Myth 2: There are no benefits to desexing
Besides from preventing unwanted pregnancy, desexing has many health benefits for our pets and can help them to lead a longer, healthier life. For our female furry friends, undergoing the spaying procedure reduces the risk of mammary, ovarian and uterine cancer. It also prevents pyometra (a uterus infection), a life threatening condition which requires emergency surgery.
While for our male cats and dogs, neutering reduces their risk of prostatic diseases, such as abscesses and infections. It also eliminates the chance of testicular torsion and cancer, and reduces the risk of perianal tumours.
Myth 3: Their behaviour will change after being desexed
After desexing your pet's behaviour will change, but in a good way! Hormones play a part in behaviour, and by removing these hormones it removes certain urges and behaviours. In female cats and dogs it reduces the hormonal fluctuations associated with their heat cycles, which means less unpredictable behaviour and a calmer personality. For males cats and dogs, it lowers aggression towards other animals, roaming behaviour looking for a mate, and marking of territory.
Myth 4: Desexed pets will gain weight
Desexing your pet won't cause them to gain weight. Removing organs that produce hormones may cause your pet's metabolism to slow, but ageing also has this effect. However, it's overfeeding and lack of exercise that causes weight gain. If you pet does gain weight after their surgery, it is most likely due to their diet or the amount of exercising they are getting.
Weight gain isn't caused by desexing
Myth 5: It's expensive
The cost of desexing depends on the age, size, and whether you have a cat or a dog. While this procedure will cost you initially, it is actually less expensive than your pet's flea and worm prevention treatment if you spread it out over the span of their life. By preventing pregnancy it will also undoubtedly save you money in the long run. Caring for a litter of kittens or puppies should your pet become pregnant can be costly when you add up the expenses of feeding them, vaccinating, microchipping and check ups. Also, there's always the possibility of an emergency caesarean being needed if your pet develops complications delivering her litter.
It is also important to note a cheaper the desexing fee is not necessarily better. It's always best to double check the desexing fee is inclusive of intravenous fluids, pain relief, surgical recheck, and blood tests should they be needed.
During National Desexing Month, RSPCA Queensland collaborates with local councils and vet clinics for their Operation Wanted initiative to provide discounted desexing. The National Desexing Network, an initiative of the Animal Welfare League of Queensland, also lists councils who subsidise desexing for pet owners as well as vet clinics and other organisations who offer discounts for pet owners in need.
If you are looking to add a furry companion to your family but are concerned about desexing costs, consider adopting. These little guys looking for homes are already desexed.
If you have any questions, or are unsure if desexing is right for your pet, speak to your vet for more information.