Myths about neutering

There are a lot of myths and misinformation about the risks of getting your pet neutered. Our vets give you some straight answers to these common concerns:

My female pet should have a litter before she’s neutered.

No – there’s no need for your female dog, cat or rabbit to have a litter before she’s neutered as there are no known benefits for your pet if she has a litter before she’s spayed.

In fact, the benefits of neutering include stopping the risk of unwanted pregnancy and decreasing the risk of male and female dogs developing a number of cancers.

After the age of five, roughly 80% of unneutered female rabbits develop cancer of the uterus (womb) - so neutering your pet while they're young is a great step to helping keep them healthy into old age.

Both male and female cats can be neutered from four months of age. Most dogs can be neutered from around six months old, but this can depend on their breed, size and other factors. We’d recommend that you discuss this with your vet who will advise you on the best time to neuter, as they might feel that delaying would be better.

 

If I neuter my pet, they’ll gain weight.

No - only overfeeding and under-exercising cause obesity.

Neutering has so many other health benefits for your pet, from preventing cancer to reducing their instinct to roam away from home. Once neutered they are likely to need fewer calories, so speak to your vet or vet nurse who will advise you on the best diet to feed your pet. If you’re worried about your pet’s weight, there are much more effective things you can do instead of avoiding getting them neutered:

Dogs: adult dogs need fewer calories than puppies, so make sure you’re feeding your dog the right food for their stage in life. We’ve got more advice on the best way to keep your dog at their healthy weight.

Cats: make sure you’re feeding your cat a diet for adult, neutered cats. You can encourage them to exercise by playing games with them, which most cats love. Get more advice on keeping your cat at a healthy weight.

Rabbits: rabbits are less likely to put on weight if they're fed a diet as close as possible to what they'd eat in the wild. We recommend that feeding hay or unlimited grass should make up 85% of a rabbit’s diet (or their body size in hay), 10% should be a variety of leafy greens, vegetables and herbs (or handful) and 5%(or tablespoon) of pelleted feed. Read more about how to keep your rabbit at a healthy weight. Read more about how to keep your rabbit at a healthy weight.

 

Getting my pet neutered will change their behaviour or personality.

If your pet is confident, happy and well socialised, without any established behavioural problems then it’s unlikely that their behaviour or personality will be altered by neutering.

However, neutering can impact some pets’ behaviour, especially if they are anxious or fearful. A dog who is shy may benefit from confidence that hormones can provide, meaning neutering may not be the best option for that individual at that time.

On the other hand, a dog that is over-confident may benefit from neutering.

The decision to neuter your pet should be thoroughly discussed with your vet and potentially an ABTC accredited pet behaviourist as every pet is different.

Neutering can sometimes be helpful to combat some hormonal influenced behaviours, such as:

  • Urine marking
  • Roaming behaviour
  • Sexual behaviour (mounting).

It’s important to remember that these behaviours may not be due to hormones and as such, neutering might not help.

It is often thought that neutering will “calm” an excitable dog, however, this is rarely the case.

Read our advice on:

It’s worth mentioning that neutering your male cat should prevent spraying or marking in the house. This can be very unpleasant to live with as the smell can be overpowering, extremely difficult to remove and they’re not fussy about where they spray.

 

Neutering is a risky and painful operation.

Neutering is a quick, usually straightforward operation carried out under anaesthetic by vets on a daily basis.

While any operation carries some risks, it’s much safer for a younger pet to go under anaesthetic than it is for older pets, should they face health problems due to being unneutered.

Recovery tends to be swift but they will need some rest and time to recover afterwards. In almost all cases, your pet will be sent home the same day with pain relief to keep them comfortable, and post-operative care instructions. Keeping them rested will be your challenge!

 

I’ve got an indoor pet – they won’t get pregnant or father a litter so they don’t need to be neutered.

Neutering isn’t just about stopping your pet from having babies – there’s a whole host of health benefits too.

While your pet might not be at risk of getting pregnant, they could still suffer from conditions such as:

  • Pyometra (a serious womb infection)
  • Testicular cancer
  • Prostate disease
  • Breast, ovarian or uterine (womb) cancer.

Neutering greatly reduces the risk of your pet suffering from these diseases. It’s an important step towards giving your pet a happy, healthy life.

 

I’ve got a pair of littermates – one’s male and the other female. Surely they won’t mate?

Sadly, littermates aren’t selective about who they mate with and given the opportunity will mate with each other. As these offspring would too closely related, they could have serious health problems.

If your pets accidentally mate and they’re related, it’s best to contact your vet as soon as possible – or better still get them neutered before any accidents happen.