Neutering is a routine operation that vets will recommend for most cats and dogs, as it can improve your pet’s quality of life. But what are the benefits of this procedure? And is it a suitable option for every pet? Here’s what you need to know before booking them in for a spay or snip.
What is neutering?
Neutering is a routine operation performed by a vet to remove a cat’s or dog’s sex organs. It ensures your pet is unable to reproduce and stops the production of hormones that are responsible for sexual behaviour, such as coming into season, spraying and humping.
Neutering offers many health benefits to your cat or dog:
- It reduces aggression and fighting (due to lack of testosterone)
- It lowers the chance of developing certain cancers, such as those of the breast, testicles, womb or ovaries
- It reduces the risk of certain infections and diseases, like pyometra, prostate disease and feline AIDS
- In male cats, it will make them less likely to roam and go missing
Another great advantage of neutering is that it prevents unwanted pregnancies, resulting in fewer puppies and kittens born with hereditary diseases. This also helps reduce the number of unwanted animals ending up in a shelter or rescue centre – a big step towards helping to control the stray population.
At what age should you neuter your pet?
Both cats and dogs can be neutered from six months of age. This is usually the time when they become sexually active. However, your vet will be able to recommend when it’s best for your pet to receive the surgery.
As an example, if your male cat is neutered after he has reached 12 months of age, you may not enjoy the full behavioural benefits of neutering. This is because he may have begun to learn behaviours like fighting and spraying. On the other hand, some large dog breeds might benefit from waiting until they are older than six months of age.
What is the procedure like?
The operation is carried out under general anaesthetic and involves the removal of the testicles (in males) or the ovaries and uterus (in females). The procedure can take from 30 minutes to an hour. As for what happens after the surgery, your pet will need to recover at home for about 2 weeks or, in the case of male cats, a few days.
Feeding your neutered pet
Once your cat or dog is neutered it's important to feed a lower-calorie diet, as this will help control body weight (after neutering your pet’s energy requirements will be slightly lower). Pet foods created for neutered pets will also be higher in protein (for satiety as well as healthy muscle mass) and contain L-carnitine, an amino acid that helps with the metabolisation of fat.