Sterilization is the answer!

Sterilization is the answer, but what is the question? well, how about: how do I prevent my female pet getting pregnant? How do I stop my male cat spraying urine all over the place? What do I do with my bitch/queen when she comes on heat? How do I stop my male dog wandering and/or fighting? How do I prevent waking up in the morning to find I have 8 more Guineapigs/Rabbits than when I went to sleep last night?

They can all be solved by sterilization!

Ok, so lets define this before you have this mental image of your pet bound and gagged sitting in a pot of boiling water a la Missionary style! Sterilization involves surgically removing the uterus and ovaries from females and the testicles from males.

Spaying is usually the term used when referring to the sterilization of a female dog or cat while neutering usually refers to sterilization of a male dog or cat. The terms can however also be used for some other pets.However, lets stick to cats and dogs for the moment.

Some of the more common concerns raised by pet owners are: In females, should the animal be allowed to go through it's first season before being spayed? There is no advantage to this.Although traditionally most cats and dogs were spayed at 6 - 9 months, which may or may not have been after their first season,millions of dogs and cats now get spayed as young as 8 weeks with no adverse effects.

Which really answers the next few common concerns. Spaying before the first heat does not psychologically damage the pet, nor does it automatically become fat and lazy! In fact, spaying before the onset of the first season reduces the chances of developing mammary tumours later on in life. Spaying also takes care of false pregnancies, irregular heat cycles and having to lock up your pet for the duration of her heat cycle!

It is possible to put bitches and queens on contraceptive drugs. There are a range of these and you need to consult your veterinarian about what is available where you live. Be prepared to sit down and go through all the ins and outs (including potential side effects) of having a pet on these drugs.Personally I feel that if you are going to breed (and please don't do this just to let the kids experience it.There are enough unwanted animals in the world as it is!) then put your pet into a boarding kennel when she comes into season. If you are not going to breed with her then get her spayed before her first season.

Neutering males also has many advantages. It usually stops them wandering, makes them less aggresive, reduces the risk of prostate problems later on and generally smoothes the rough edges and makes them more pleasant pets. It however wont interfere with their instinct to protect your home and family.

As with the females, neutering is traditionally done at 6+ months old but can in fact be done at 8 to 12 weeks without any harmful side effects - including becoming fat and lazy.

While neutering will generally calm a dog down it is not a cure for all behavioural problems because these are not all directly attributable to testosterone! So, if you have a male cat or dog displaying unacceptable behaviour, don't rely on neutering alone to sort the problem out. However, neutering an animal will seldom make a behavioural problem worse.

Unless you are an ethical breeder with lots of experience, my advice is stay away from breeding and contraceptive drugs and have your pet neutered or spayed as soon as you can. It will prevent a host of unwanted and unnecessary problems.

Remember that spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that are carried out under a general anaesthetic. As such, there is always a risk, albeit small, of losing your pet under anaesthetic. To minimise the chances of anything going wrong, consult your Veterinarian about what you need to do pre-op to prepare your pet for it's visit to theatre. Also make a note and follow the post op instructions you are given when your pet leaves the hospital. I am constantly amazed at what people put their pets through just after they have had surgery.

So remember, even though spaying and neutering are standard surgical procedures, ANY anaesthetic is a stress to the body and pets, just like you, need to have time to recover fully before they get back into the swing of daily life.

Other Pets

Rabbits, Rats, Mice, Guinea Pigs etc can all be surgically sterilized. However, the anaesthetics in these smaller animals can be a bit tricky and it is advisable to find out if your vet is both comfortable and experienced doing these procedures before you embark down the sterilization path. In some cases it is easier to sex these pets, hope you get it 100% right, and keep the males and females separate!