In every case, there is a balance to be found between the risk to the patient and the benefit. What follows is our current advice (2017) but this advice changes as more knowledge becomes available.
For male dogs, we do not recommend castration as a general rule. There are exceptions, but we do not do routine dog castrations.
For male cats and rabbits, we do. We advise castration cat at 5 months, rabbit at 4 months.
For female dogs (bitches) we now recommend spaying (removal or the ovaries and womb, or more recently just the ovaries via laparoscopy.) after the first season, if at all.
For female cats (queens) we recommend spaying at 22 weeks of age (unless in season.) For female rabbits 5 months.
This advice is quite different from advice given even as recently as 10 years ago. We have learned much over that time, and one of the (very few) benefits of corporate practices is their ability to crunch big data and make judgements with statistical significance and confidence. An example is the counterintuitive finding that castrated dogs are more prone to prostate cancer than entire males.
In all of these surgical cases there are many other improvements. No longer to pets go home wearing an Elizabethan collar, feeling sorry for themselves, and ‘quiet’ (in post-operative pain) for some days, with uncomfortable spikey nylon stitches. Nowadays we make sure there is no pain at any stage, before, during, or after, we use subcuticular (under the skin) soft stitches which dissolve in time and we expect our patients to be 100% back to normal then following day.
When we do operate, there are always some unwelcome side-effects. The main one is a much-increased tendency towards obesity. The metabolism has changed and that part that is now missing was an energy heavy part of the system which burned up a lot of food energy. On the same amount of food, the animal will get fatter and fatter. There are other side effects such as coat changes and sometimes temperament.
There is a lot in the few points above. We are happy to go through the pros and cons of each individual case with you at any time, and as always:
For more on this topic, see our Podcast, or ask any of our clinical staff.