TO DESEX OR NOT TO DESEX?? – THAT IS THE QUESTION!!
Desexing is the surgical procedure that renders a male or female cat or dog unable to reproduce. These procedures are done under a general anaesthetic.
Males > castration – involves removing the testicles; the empty scrotal sac shrinks. The testicles produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone.
Females > Spey – involves removal of both ovaries and the uterus. The ovaries produce eggs during the heat cycle and the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. The uterus is removed to avoid possible infection later in life.
ADVANTAGES OF DESEXING
· Early desexing (before the first ‘season’) reduces the chances of mammary cancer development in females from approx. 90% to almost nil. Males also benefit as the incidence of testicular and prostatic disease and perianal hernias is very high in entire adult males.
· Prevents undesired ‘heats’ and births
· Avoids development of offensive sexual behaviour – mounting, masturbation, urine spraying
· Greatly reduces aggression related to sexual behaviour. Entire males fight when bitches/queens on heat are within smell, less cat fights and so less abscesses and FIV.
· Reduces the intensity of dominance aggression. Irritable aggression often seen in females in heat and with false pregnancies. NB TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION IS NOT ALTERED BY DESEXING – your dog will still protect your property if he/she is inclined to do so. Note – some dogs are just too placid to guard even if entire!
· A desexed pet is less likely to roam and become lost or involved in territorial conflicts with other animals or be hit by a car.
· Reduces or eliminates inappropriate urination and defaecation caused by hormonal and sexual factors.
Basic temperament and intelligence are not altered by desexing. In fact, many undesirable qualities under hormonal influence may be resolved. Animals do not become less affectionate or playful and they are not capable of resenting you.
The temperament of females is unlikely to improve after having a litter. In fact, the opposite usually occurs as their maternal instincts make them over-protective and increase the chance of aggression. The temperament of males is improved after desexing as they are less unpredictable and less likely to show dominance aggression to their owners.
EFFECT ON WEIGHT
Many pets gain weight after desexing because they are either fed more by their owners or the owners do not take into account that their metabolic rate is reduced after desexing and therefore feed intake may need to be decreased. We must adjust our pet’s food intake to meet their level of metabolism and level of activity accurately or weight gain may occur. Keep an eye on weight and adjust feeding appropriately. We are all what we eat, so no tidbits either. This way weight gain after desexing can be easily avoided.
POPULAR AND UNFOUNDED MYTHS ABOUT DESEXING YOUR PET
1. Desexed pets put on weight Animals and people put on weight because of over consumption of food and insufficient exercise. There are lots of overweight people who are not desexed. Diet and exercise are the key factors!
2. Desexing stops a dog from being a good guard dog Desexing does not alter this basic instinct – some dogs will never be guard dogs, they are just too placid, desexed or not. A dog doesn’t need aggression to be a good watch; it only needs to be able to bark! If you want an aggressive dog to guard your house, invest in a good security system. In the long term, it will probably cost you a lot less and cause a lot less problems than an aggressive pet will!
3. Dogs and cats make better pets if they have a litter Not true. In fact, females often become more aggressive after a litter, rather than quieter, as their protective instincts are magnified. Frustrated entire males can become very unpredictable and aggressive.
4. Pets need to come into season before desexing Seasons cause a lot of unwanted dogs or tomcats to appear around your house à howling, fighting, marking, urine spraying and unwanted pregnancies. There are no medical reasons for having a season and, in fact, that first season can predispose to medical problems, such as mammary cancer, later on in life.
5. Desexing is cruel/barbaric/painful/dangerous Not true! The procedure is carried out under anaesthesia with strict hygiene controls and monitoring to ensure maximum safety. Strong pain relief and anti-inflammatory injections are routinely given before and during this surgery to minimise any post-operative discomfort. Our pets have no sense of “missing” anything. They live from day to day concerned only about their daily activities.
6. My pet is confined all the time so why get it desexed? Entire animals can suffer sexual frustration when females in season are within smell or when they themselves are in season. This can lead to changes in their behaviour often leading to destructiveness and aggression. Desexing eliminates this problem, leading to a happier, healthier and well-adjusted family pet.
7. I’d like to make a little more money from breeding my pet This has been tried and tested throughout the ages and unless you run a professional breeding kennel of pedigreed animals, put in a lot of capital, pay proper attention to quality feed, worming and vaccinations, you will more likely end up in debt over the experience. For example your pet may require an emergency cesarean in the middle of the night costing upwards of $2,000.00 and produce one single live puppy.
8. Having pups will be a good experience for the children This “good experience” often turns into a nightmare when the female has trouble having her litter and the children have to watch her in pain or when some or all of the pups or kittens die at birth or soon after. There is no positive educational experience for children in seeing their pet in need of a caesarian when their parents have not planned for this possibility or cannot afford the procedure. A better learning experience for the children would be to show them how to be responsible pet owners by having the pets desexed and not producing more pups/kittens when thousands are put to sleep at the RSPCA each year.