The Desexing


Desexing or neutering your pet is a surgical procedure that prevents them from being able to reproduce. In male pets it is commonly referred to as “castration”, and in female pets as “spaying”. This is the most frequent surgery performed by our vets. Although these operations are routine, they are major procedures however, in most cases your pets will go home the same evening as the surgery.




The most common age to desex your pet is between 4 and 6 months although we will desex kittens as young as 6-8 weeks of age or 680gm body weight.  Female ferrets (jills) are best desex at 5-6 months of age. No pets are ever too old to be desexed.

There are many benefits to desexing your pet before 6 months. They include:

  • Preventing unwanted litters, which can be very costly, and may add to the already overwhelming number of stray animals that are put down each year

  • Prevention of testicular cancer and prostate disease in males, and it can help prevent pyometra (infection of the uterus) and mammary tumours (breast cancer) in females and in the case of female ferrets, problems associated with oestrogen toxicity

  • Stopping the “heat” cycle in females 

  • Decreasing aggression towards humans and other animals, especially in males (the earlier the operation is performed, the better the results)

  • Being less prone to wander, especially in males

  • Living a longer and healthier life

  • Reduction of council registration fees


Common Questions About Desexing


Will desexing affect my pet’s personality?


Your pets will retain their pre-operation personality, possibly with the added bonus of being calmer and less aggressive. Contrary to popular belief, desexing won't limit the capacity of working dogs to perform their duties.


Should my female have one litter first?


No – it is actually better for her not to have any litters before being spayed. Her risk of developing breast cancer increases if she is allowed to go through her first heat. The more heats, and the more litters you allow your female dogs and cats to have, the greater the chances of them developing breast cancer down the line.

The desexing operation is often more involved after an animal has been on heat or had a litter and this can add to the cost of the procedure due to an increase in surgical time and the extra care that has to be taken to avoid complications during the procedure.


Will it cause my pet to become fat?


Your pet’s metabolism may be slowed due to hormonal changes after desexing, however this is easily managed with adjusting feeding and ensuring adequate exercise. There is no reason a desexed pet cannot be maintained at a normal weight through a combination of proper diet and a good, active lifet style.


Is desexing painful?


As with all surgery, there is some tenderness immediately after the procedure, but most pets will recover very quickly. We believe in pain control for all animals and will administer the appropriate pain relief medications at the time of any surgical procedure, including desexing operations. Sometimes we will also send your pet home with a short course of further pain relief. Pain relief helps to speed recovery and hasten healing.

You will be given a post-operative care sheet which will outline what we recommend you do for your pet after discharge from hospital. Some animals will need some encouragement to take it easy for a few days.


Will my dog lose its “guard dog” instinct?


No, your dog will be just as protective of their territory as before the surgery.


What To Do Before and After Surgery


Before surgery and preparing for the surgical procedure


  • Make a booking for your pets operation. We only need a few days notice.

  • If your pet is a dog, you may wish to wash them the day before surgery as they are unable to be washed after until the stitches are removed.

  • Do not give your pet food after 9 p.m. the night before the operation and do not give them any water after 8 a.m. on the day of surgery. This helps to avoid gastrointestinal upset that may result from the use of certain drugs at the time of the surger

  • Make sure that when you come into the clinic your pet is adequately restrained. Dogs should be brought in on a leash that is attached to an appropriately sized collar. Small dogs, cats, and pocket pets like rabbit, guinea pigs and ferrets should be transported in a suitably sized and ventilated carrier.
  • To avoid confusion, be specific as to why your pet is being presented. Hospital staff should be informed if your pet has been inadvertently fed or watered beyond the recommend times. You may receive additional instructions at the time of your pet's admission to our clinic. It is very important that you leave  daytime/evening telephone numbers where you can be contacted in case of an emergency. The staff will inform you of the most suitable times to call the clinic to enquire as to the outcome of the desexing procedure and the most suitable discharge time for your pet. 

  • Depending on the age of your pet, and whether or not there are any underlying problems that we know about prior to surgery, a blood test may be performed prior to surgery to check vital organ function. As a rule we do not promote pre-anaesthetic pathology tests for young animals undergoing routine desexing procedures but you are free to ask for such tests if it makes you feel more comfortable about sending your pet into surgery. 

  • The vet will perform a thorough physical examination before administering an anaesthetic.

  •  Some pets will require intravenous fluid support during surgery. This will be discussed with you prior to the procedure.

  • To ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible, all pets are sedated and receive pain relief prior to desexing and extra pain relief may be prescribed to take home for a few days after the procedure.


After Surgery:

When your pet goes home he/she should be bright and alert but depending on when the surgery is done, and how long the procedure takes, some pets will be a little bit sleepy due to the after effects of the anaesthetics and sedatives. You will be given a post-operative care sheet which will detail most of the requirements we believe are necessary for your pet to experience a speedy recovery from surgery. Some points to remember:

  • Keep your pet restrained and quiet as the effects of anaesthetic can take some time to wear off completely.

  • Keeping them quiet is also essential to allow the wound to heal. We recommend that females be kept confined and quiet for at least 2-3 days post-operatively to fully reduce the stress on the spay wound.

  • Food and water should be limited to small portions only on the night after surgery.

  • Follow any dietary instructions that the vet has provided.

  • Ensure all post-surgical medications (if any) are administered as per the label instructions.

  • Ensure your pet’s rest area is clean to avoid infection.

  • Check the incision at least twice daily for any signs of infection or disruption (eg. bleeding, swelling, redness or discharge). Contact the vet immediately if these symptoms appear. Do not wait to see if they will spontaneously resolve.

  • Prevent your pet from licking or chewing the wound. Special cone-shaped collars assist with this problem. A single chew can remove the careful stitching with disastrous effects. Some swelling can be normal due to irritation under the skin by the sutures embedded in the tissues below. If worried, do not hesitate to contact the clinic for advice.

  • Ensure you return to us on time for routine post-operative check-ups and removal of stitches.

  • After a spay operation some females may experience some constipation for 2-3 days. If you notice this and think there is a problem, contact and we can give you advice on how to deal with the problem. Usually this problem resolves by itself.
  • Occasionally there may be swelling of the scrotum in males. This normally resolves by itself but feel free to call the clinic for advice or to make a time to have any swelling checked in case there is a problem.




    If you have any concerns before or after your pet has been desexed, please call us immediately to discuss.