Dog neutering during Covid-19 lockdown
- Due to Covid-19 restrictions, some veterinary practices aren’t able to offer routine procedures such as neutering at present.
- Unneutered dogs are at risk of pregnancy, certain health problems and undesirable behavioural traits.
- Female dogs can have a season and get pregnant any time from 5-6 months old.
- Even related dogs will mate.
- It’s important to keep unneutered dogs safe until they have been speyed/castrated.
Why isn't my vet offering neutering appointments at the moment?
During lockdown, vets are having to prioritise the sickest pets, which means that many routine procedures such as neutering have been delayed or cancelled.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) have asked vets across the UK to prioritise urgent/essential treatment, and to comply with social distancing at all times. This has led to major changes in the way veterinary practices run, and has meant that many practices have had to postpone or completely stop offering routine procedures such as neutering and vaccinations to enable them to continue treating the sickest pets.
Your vet is likely to be issuing updates on their service so keep checking their website and any updates they send by email, text or letter. If you’re unable to find out about the services your vet is providing, you may need to call them to discuss. It’s important to remember that your vets are extremely busy adapting to the ever changing challenges of the pandemic, and doing their best to care for some very sick pets - they will really appreciate your patience and understanding.
I am a PDSA client and I want to have my dog neutered, what do I do?
We at PDSA are currently facing a huge demand for our services, and at present, our priority has to be treating pets in need of urgent or lifesaving treatment. Unfortunately, this means that we are not currently able to offer preventive services such as neutering and vaccinations. Although we hope to provide these services at some point, it’s likely that a reduced service will continue into the foreseeable future. For this reason, we recommend that our clients find another veterinary practice for vaccinations and neutering. Try your local private practice, or use the RCVS website to find vets in your local area. Don’t worry, even if your dog is neutered/vaccinated elsewhere, you will still be registered at PDSA should they become unwell at any point. We really appreciate your patience and support during this difficult time.
Risks of being unneutered
Unwanted pregnancy is the most obvious risk of being unneutered. Female dogs can get pregnant when they are in season (on heat), and any unneutered dogs can mate, even if they are related, different breeds or different sizes. Your puppy will have her first season anytime between 5-18 months old and then again every 6 months.
Speying and castrating has many health benefits, and unneutered pets are at a higher risk of developing conditions such as pyometra (womb infections), false pregnancy and prostate problems (males only).
There are certain behaviours that can develop in unneutered dogs that can be quite difficult for pet owners to deal with. In some circumstances, unneutered dogs can show aggression towards other dogs and sometimes humans. Both male and female dogs can develop sexual behaviours such as ‘humping’, which is natural but sometimes disruptive, especially if they hump people or other pets.
Keeping your unneutered dog safe
If you have an unneutered female dog, while she is in season/on heat you will need to keep her separate from all unneutered male dogs and on the lead during walks. After each season you should monitor for signs of pyometra (womb infection) or false pregnancy.
If you have an unneutered male dog, you will need to keep him away from any unneutered females in season, be careful around other entire male dogs (aggression is slightly more likely), and monitor for any signs of a problem with his penis or testicles.
Check if you can have them neutered elsewhere
If your vet isn’t able to neuter your rabbit at present, try another local vet practice, or use the RCVS website to find vets in your local area.
Both my female and male dog are unneutered, what shall I do?
If you have an unneutered male and female dog, you will need to keep them completely separate while your female dog is in season (which usually lasts between 2-4 weeks). They will both be very motivated to get to each other, so you will need to keep them distracted and in secure areas. If possible, it may be easier for someone else to look after your male dog while your female is in season.
My dog has accidentally mated, what should I do?
If your dog has accidentally mated, contact your vet to discuss your options.
There are lots of reasons why dogs start to hump. It can sometimes be due to hormones, but it can also be due to excitement or habit (many neutered dogs still hump). If it’s becoming a problem, the best thing to do is distract them from doing it. Never tell your dog off for humping, it’s a natural behaviour that can be discouraged and ignored, but not punished - they simply won’t understand.
- Gently move him/her off whatever he/she is humping.
- Once they have calmed, reward them with a treat or toy.
- If your dog continues to hump, quietly and gently put him/her into another room for a minute or two (to calm down).
- Then call him out and reward him/her for doing a trick such as ‘sit’, ‘paw’ or ‘lie down’. This will distract him/her and encourage more ‘favourable’ behaviours instead of humping.
- You might also want to find other ways to help your dog use up his/her energy, for example scattering food round the house, or training him to do some new tricks. Contact your vet for advice if your dog’s behaviour is causing a serious problem.
Published: October 2020
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst