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Should I neuter or spay my cat or dog?

7 minutes

Considering whether to neuter or spay your cat or dog? We examine some of the pros and cons. 

  • Neutering or spaying your pet can help reduce health risks, but stops animals from breeding
  • The cost of surgery depends on your pet’s gender, age, breed and size
  • Some vets recommend neutering or spaying from 8 weeks, others from 6 months onwards
If you’re considering neutering your dog or cat, you need all the information to make the right decision for you and your pet. 

That’s why we’ve created this helpful guide to outline the pros and cons of pet neutering and spaying. This puts you in a great place to speak to your vet about it.

We’ll look at key issues like the differences between neutering and spaying and the average cost to neuter a dog or cat.

Pet neutering

Neutering or spaying your pet is a big decision. You should always speak to your vet before making it. They’ll be able to offer specific advice for you and your pet, and can discuss the costs with you. 

Many people choose to neuter or spay their cats and dogs to prevent them having puppies or kittens, especially in females. However, it can also be used to curb negative behaviours such as aggression and sexual drive.

Whether this is effective, depends completely on your pet  so you shouldn’t neuter or spay an animal to change their behaviour. It could even trigger behavioural issues.

There are, understandably, differences between neutering and spaying:

  • Neutering – in male dogs and cats, the testicles are removed
  • Spaying – in female dogs and cats, the ovaries and womb are removed

Once your pet has been neutered or spayed, they can’t breed. Spaying is a more complicated procedure, so females need more time to recover.

What happens during the procedure?

On the day of surgery, your pet will be taken to the vets in the morning. Your pet may have already had a pre-surgical check to check they’re healthy enough to have the procedure. You’ll probably also be told not to feed your dog or cat up to 12 hours before they’re due to have surgery.

It’s natural to worry about the surgery, so make sure to ask your vet any questions you have. Complications are rare and both procedures are incredibly common.

There are pros and cons for both neutering and spaying, which differ between cats and dogs. These should help you decide what is right for your pet.

The benefits of pet neutering or spaying

Neutering can:

  • Reduce the risk of testicular cancer 
  • Lower their hormone levels – this could help reduce aggressive behaviours
  • Reduce the risk of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) in cats 

Spaying can: 

  • Prevent unwanted or false pregnancies 
  • Remove the chance of infections or cancer in the uterus
  • Decrease the risk of mammary cancer in dogs 

Neutering and spaying helps reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs that end up in animal shelters. This has become a concerning problem in recent years, with over 130,000 dogs arriving into UK rehoming charities every year .

If you would struggle to look after an unexpected litter of puppies or kittens, neutering or spaying would ensure this doesn’t happen. 

The cons of pet neutering or spaying

Neutering can:

  • Potentially affect bone growth in dogs when neutered under 6 months old
  • Result in weight gain, as they aren’t burning energy to find someone to reproduce with 

Spaying can: 

  • Increase instances of urinary incontinence
  • Cause weight gain 

 

How much does neutering or spaying cost?

The cost of neutering or spaying differs between cats and dogs  .

It’s generally more expensive to spay a dog or cat – as it involves internal surgery – than to neuter a male pet .

For dogs:

For cats:

  • Castrations and spays vary greatly depending on the vet and the species/gender of your cat 

One important thing to remember when it comes to cost is that if your pet gets pregnant, the costs are likely to be much higher than the cost of spaying.

When can you neuter a dog?

The best age to neuter a dog depends on several factors, including:

  • Age - some vets believe that neutering can take place as early as 8 weeks, others advise waiting until 6 months  
  • Breed - if your male dog is a larger breed, your vet is more likely to suggest waiting until they’re 6 months 
  • Gender - for female dogs, a vet may advise waiting until after their first season before spaying – for male dogs, they may suggest waiting until they’ve reached maturity 
  • General health - if your dog is suffering from, or is more susceptible to contracting certain illnesses, your vet may advise spaying or neutering sooner to prevent more serious problems 
  • Behaviour - if your dog is aggressive, your vet might advise neutering, but this is never a guaranteed solution and behavioural training may be more beneficial 

When can you neuter a cat?

As with dogs, when you choose to neuter or spay your cat depends on a number of factors:

  • Age - cats reach sexual maturity from 5 months onwards, meaning vets often recommend neutering or spaying at 4 months to prevent pregnancies
  • Gender - when a female cat becomes pregnant, there’s a risk of developing serious complications. How likely your cat is to fall pregnant can impact the benefits of spaying
  • General health - female cats can develop breast cancer and womb infections, spaying either removes or reduces this risk
  • Behaviour - neutering a cat earlier can reduce their instincts to fight or roam too far

Help keep your beloved family pet safe by getting pet insurance for your dog or cat.

 

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