Neutering and spaying are surgical sterilisation processes for animals, although modern veterinary practice uses the term ‘de-sexing’. Neutering refers to an operation performed on male animals where the testicles are removed. Spaying is a slightly more complex procedure for female animals; this involves the removal of the womb and ovaries. We highlight the key reasons behind the decision to neuter or spay an animal.
Improves behavioural issues
A number of behavioural problems are resolved through sterilisation. Animals will demonstrate suppressed aggression, reduced anxiety and less frequent urinary marking. This is especially true for male dogs and ferrets, who can experience drastic temperament changes.
Alleviates symptoms during heat
Females can suffer discomfort during heat periods; this can be vastly alleviated through spaying.
The quantity of homeless animals is growing rapidly in the UK. Reducing birth rates would help animal shelters cope with the looming overpopulation crisis. Aiding shelters will decrease the amount of animals having to be euthanised because they cannot be rehomed quickly enough.
Decreases risk of illness
Specific strains of cancer (like mammary cancer and testicular cancer) and uterine infections are far less likely once an animal has been neutered or spayed. Male ferrets are known to show signs of alopecia and anaemia, both of which are improved with neutering.
Avoids birth defects
Related offspring do not usually take note of family relationships, therefore it is not unusual for brothers and sisters to mate. This can cause deformities and birth defects in the next generation.
Stamps out theft
Sterilisation procedures can reduce the risk of animals being stolen for breeding purposes—currently a growing problem in the UK.
Recovery from both procedures tends to be quite speedy. Pets will usually be back to normal after a couple of weeks of wearing a cone or inflatable e-collar.
Vet fees can add up
With the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act in 2006, owners have a responsibility to meet their pet’s needs. This will include worming, vaccinating and treating all offspring for fleas. If owners do not have the budget to pay for these treatments, they should consider the sterilisation of their pet.