Spaying and Neutering

Posted on December 30, 2016

When the term “sterilization” is mentioned, what essentially comes to mind is removing the animal’s ability of reproduction. However, there is much more advantages to this surgical procedure. So, what exactly is the procedure all about? In most veterinary clinics, the most common surgical sterilizations are ovariohysterectomy and orchiectomy.

Ovariohysterectomy, or spay, is a surgical procedure which involves the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus from a female animal. This renders her unable to reproduce (sterile), eliminates her heat cycle and ceases her breeding instinct-related behaviour.

Orchiectomy, or neuter, is a surgical procedure which involves the removal of the testes from a male animal. This renders him unable to reproduce and reduces or ceases his mating behaviours.

There are also other similar procedures to the two aforementioned procedures but such procedures do not entirely remove mating behaviours of the animals.

Vasectomy involves the ligation of the sperm duct from a male dog rendering the sperm unable to pass out from the penis. However, the testes would still remain and would continue the production of hormones. Thus, the dog would still have mating instinct behavioural issues after the procedure.

Hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus and part of the fallopian tubes from a female animal. This effectively removes her ability to reproduce but her remaining ovaries would continue to produce hormones. Hence, she would still have her heat cycle and display mating behaviour.

Ovariectomy involves the removal of the ovaries from a female animal, leaving the uterus behind. This effectively removes her ability to reproduce, cease her heat cycle and mating behaviour. However, she would still be susceptible to bacterial infection of the womb.


Why Sterilize?

Mating behaviours

The biggest reason is possibly Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO). Each year, huge numbers of dogs and cats are euthanized in Singapore due to birth of unwanted litters from accidental mating of free roam pets and strays. Sterilizing animals effectively plays a part in reducing pet overpopulation. Besides preventing unwanted litters, it also prevents pets from escaping from their homes. Animals have a natural need to mate and often cannot deny their hormonal needs. The need for mating is so strong that most animals display an obvious disinterest in meals and nothing else would satisfy them. This results in them trying all ways to escape their homes to mate.

Mating related behaviours also includes frustration and hostility toward their owners. If owners intentionally restraint them from going near the opposite gender, the pet might get sexually frustrated and attempt to bite. Sometimes, these animals would resort to rubbing themselves against their owners or inanimate objects for relief. Besides the sexual frustration, animals could also display natural territorial aggression and dominance. These behaviours often lead owners to be frustrated in handling them.

These behaviours could be eliminated along with the heat cycles just by a simple spay or neuter. The procedures have no effect on a pet’s intelligence, lifestyle or ability to learn. Some pets have even turned better behaved following the surgery as their hormone production is ceased and reduce their dominance, thus, making them more desirable companions.

Health issues

Hormones do not just drive an animal to mate; they could also cause potential illnesses such as prostate, testicular, breast and ovarian cancer. These tumours when removed could possibly recur as long as there is a continuous production of hormones. Besides the development of tumours, females could also succumb to a bacterial infection of the womb, also known as pyometra.

In My Family Vet, we would always carry out ovariohysterectomy and orchiectomy for the animals. This is because our goal is to keep each animal as safe as possible from such health complications. We would only carry out the surgical alternatives if owners insist upon it after our advice on the procedure case-by-case basis.

While sterilization is a surgery most commonly carried out by veterinarians, there is no doubt that there are some risks involved from the anaesthetic and usual surgical risk. However, the overall incidence of such complications is very low. It is advised to have your pet go through a thorough physical examination to ensure good health for surgery. Post-op healthcare advice would also be given to you before or after the surgery.

Contrary to the popular belief that pets should undergo its first heat cycle before spay/neuter, it actually increases the chances of the animal developing hormonal related tumours. Upon bringing your pet for its very first check-up, do remember to consult your veterinarian on the best time to spay/neuter your pet.

Please do not hesitate to give us a call at 6566 0448 for a quote of surgical fees, surgical appointments and other enquiries.