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Mythbusting March: 8 Common Myths About Desexing, Debunked

1. Desexing is Too Expensive At Ripley Vet Hospital we subsidise desexing surgeries. This makes the procedure more affordable for our clients to have their little ones neutered without compromising quality care. These costs are absorbed by our veterinary hospital. While surgery still comes at a cost, this is much less expensive than what is required to budget for a litter and even potentially pregnancy alone. Desexing also adds great value to your pet’s wellbeing, and can help decrease expensive veterinary bills further down the track. For more on health benefits, read Myth #4!


2. Females should have at least 1 litter before being desexed There is no evidence of benefits for female pets to have a litter before desexing. In fact, pregnancy and breeding increases health risks for her and costs for you. Managing your girl throughout the pregnancy can easily cost up to thousands of dollars in diagnostic procedures and ongoing medical care. There are many complications that may arise during birth, including a puppy getting stuck in the birth canal, still borns, premature rupture of the placenta, haemorrhage, lack of contractions and hypocalcaemia. Although it comes with high risk of complications, the pregnancy itself is actually the easiest part of breeding! After those little balls of love enter the world, they will require almost constant care, attention and food. If the mother is lactating adequately, it is important to ensure all puppies can latch and feed. Constant supervision is also required as some mothers (especially first timers) may roll and crush puppies or savage them in the confined space of the whelping box. Many first time mothers do not understand what is happening, and the whole process can be incredibly stressful for them.


3. Desexing will change my pet’s personality Many owners worry their pet’s personality will change after desexing. Desexing will not change their true personality, in fact, it is often associated with improvements in behaviour. This can include a reduction in roaming (searching for a mate), aggression towards other animals, yowling (seen in female cats) and excessive urination. We often find that pets are calmer and more content at home without the frustration of wanting to mate.


4. There’s no benefit to desexing Desexing provides benefits in a variety of ways, from improved health, behaviour and animal welfare.

Improved Health: Desexing minimises the risk of certain diseases which can be life-threatening such as pyometra (bacterial infection of the uterus) mammary tumours and prostate disease in male dogs. Females desexed before their first heat have a 99.5% risk reduction of mammary tumours. As discussed in #2, there are many risks associated with pregnancy that can be avoided by desexing.


Better Behaviours: Desexing your pet can reduce reproductive cycle behaviours, such as dominance and aggression in males. It also reduces roaming when in season and territory marking at home and out and about. It inhibits female cats from calling and female dogs from bleeding when on heat.


Improved Welfare: One word - strays. A total of 94,828 animals were received by the RSPCA from 2021-2022, of which cats and dogs were most common. 13% of dogs and 18% of cats were euthanised. PetRescue estimates that over 100,000 pets are destroyed in pounds and shelters each year.


Benefit to You: Not only will you have a healthier and happier companion, you will avoid the excessive costs associated with unwanted litters in the form of money, time, effort and energy.


5. A pet doesn’t need to be desexed if they stay indoors Pregnancy and roaming are only two factors out of many that should be considered when deciding to desex your pet. Roaming should not be underestimated either, as most males will do just about anything in order to find a mate including finding a way to escape. #4 also speaks for itself here.


6. It’s cruel to desex pets because it’s unnatural Cats and dogs are domesticated species. Desexing eliminates the frustrating need to mate, allowing your pet to be content and happier being a companion for you and your family. What is cruel is the number of cats and dogs without loving homes that are euthanised each year.


7. My pet will gain weight after it’s been desexed This myth has some truth to it. Like people, pets usually gain weight due to poor nutrition, lack of exercise or underlying health matters. After your pet has been desexed, due to changes in hormones, they no longer require the high caloric intake that is necessary when they are growing as puppies or kittens. It is important to provide your pet with both regular exercise and an appropriate and portioned quality diet that will keep them happy and healthy!


8. I have a male dog, so I don’t need to neuter him / he will lose his manhood! Entire (undesexed) male dogs are the most common stray we have in-clinic and in shelters. They can become incredibly frustrated with the need to mate, often resulting in increased aggression and roaming, where they will escape in order to find a mate. Desexing helps manage these issues, and reduces their risk of prostate disease. While dogs can do many things, such as reading human emotions and understanding basic language, they do not understand the concept of manhood and will not feel like less of a man after being desexed.


If you have any questions remaining, please feel welcome to give one of our friendly team a call!

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