Having your pet sterilised or desexed is a standard surgical procedure performed under a general anaesthetic by veterinarians. In males, the surgery is called a castration and involves the removal of both testes. In females, the surgery is called spaying or ovariohysterectomy and involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries. Our veterinarians are experienced in desexing a broad range of pets including dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and rats.

Desexing your pet is a day procedure and when you book your pet in for surgery, we will explain the process. Your pet will usually be admitted in the morning at a specified time (food needs to be restricted after the evening for dogs and cats; access to water should not be restricted). Depending on the scheduled surgeries that day, the surgery will be performed between late morning and early afternoon.

Benefits of desexing your pet

Desexing is recommended because it prevents unwanted pregnancies and stops pets from coming into season. Female dogs and cats may bleed from the vulva. Desexing also prevents reproductive behaviours such as calling and yowling in cats and reduces some behaviours like aggression and wandering instincts in male dogs and cats. It also reduces the likelihood of them roaming and being involved in fights or accidents.

In female dogs and cats, the health benefits of desexing include a reduced risk of mammary tumours, preventing pyometra (an infected uterus), and eliminating the risk of cancers of the ovaries and uterus. In male dogs and cats, the health benefits of desexing include a reduced risk of prostatic disease and perianal tumours, and it eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

In female rabbits, it reduces the chance of uterine and cervical cancer. In female ferrets, it reduces the chance of fatal bone marrow suppression.

In NSW, the State Government has introduced an annual fee for non-desexed cats aged four months and older.

Improving desexing rates will ease the burden on pounds and shelters, reduce euthanasia rates, and help address concerns about feral, stray, and roaming cats and their effect on wildlife.

Age of Desexing your pet

If you decide to have your pet desexed, our veterinarians can provide specific advice on the best age for your pet based on their breed and species.

For small and medium breed dogs (those that will grow to an adult size of less than 15kg) we recommend desexing at approximately 5-6 months of age.

For brachycephalic breeds (small dogs with pushed-in faces such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers), we often combine desexing surgery with airway surgery, which we prefer to be done from 12 months of age. We recommend having a consultation regarding their breathing before booking in.

For large breeds of dogs, i.e., those that will grow to an adult size of over 15kg, it is recommended to delay desexing until after they are 12 months old as this allows these dogs’ growth plates to close naturally which has been shown to help reduce the risk of certain orthopaedic diseases in these animals and may even reduce =the chance of certain types of cancer.

Owners of giant breed dogs such as Great Danes, Wolfhounds, Dobermans, Bull Mastiffs, etc. should also consider a prophylactic gastropexy at the time of desexing to reduce the risk of life-threatening bloat and gastric torsion significantly. Our team can talk about this option with you.

Many local councils often require veterinary certification that delayed desexing is required to avoid additional registration fees. If you decide to delay desexing for your dog, please let us know so we can provide this certification.

When cats approach 4 months of age, consider booking in for desexing. The NSW Government will charge cat owners an annual permit fee for undesexed pets over 4 months of age.

When can your pet become Pregnant?

Female cats generally come into season for the first time from six months of age. However, it can be as early as four months. Cats have multiple oestrous cycles during the breeding season, typically over the warmer months. This means that female cats can be in season for several weeks.

Female dogs generally come into season from 6 months of age, depending on their size, lasting around 2 weeks. Female dogs come into season roughly every six months from their first season. However, there is also some variation in this frequency of being on heat, based on the dog's age, breed and size.

Female rabbits can come into season from 4 months of age, and being such prolific breeders, it’s essential to keep males and females separate from this young age if you do not intend for them to breed. Desexing can be done from this age to keep your rabbits together and bonded if they already are.

Female ferrets generally come into season in the spring of their first year. Because they are induced ovulating animals, they stay in season. They must be desexed before or shortly after this time to prevent life-threatening bone marrow suppression if they are not mated.

To prevent unwanted pregnancies in female dogs that are not desexed it is vital to isolate the female dog from male dogs when she is in season. Both females and males will attempt to escape from their home or backyard to find each other during this period. This can be the cause of pets being involved in motor vehicle accidents and can lead to your pet suffering severe injuries or even death. Please ensure that your pets are confined to prevent this from happening.

Please chat with our veterinary team for further information and advice about pregnancy prevention in dogs and cats.

Desexing surgery

When your pet is admitted into the veterinary hospital to be desexed, it will initially have a thorough examination by one of our veterinarians. They will then be given a drug that relaxes and sedates them and provides pain relief for the surgery. Then, the animal is induced into a general anaesthetic, and they are prepped for surgery by shaving and cleaning the surgery site.

With female animals, the desexing surgery site is usually on the midline of the belly. With male dogs and rabbits, the desexing surgery site is in the inguinal area just in front of the scrotum. Male guinea pigs and rats are desexed through an incision in their belly like females.

We don’t use external sutures with our desexing so you will not see any sutures. They are hidden underneath the skin and do not need to be removed. We find this decreases discomfort and pets licking the surgery site so the need for an Elizabethan collar.

It is essential to keep your pet rested until the wound has healed, usually around 10-14 days. Vigorous activity can sometimes lead to post-operative complications such as bleeding or swelling of the surgery site.

If you have concerns about your pet after their desexing procedure, please get in touch with our team for assistance.

When your pet is under a general anaesthetic for desexing, there are several other procedures that your veterinarian may recommend based on the individual circumstances of your pet. Please let us know if you are interested in these procedures so we can discuss them before your pet is admitted for surgery.

Dew claw removal

Dew Claws are smaller toes on the inside of the legs. They are always on the front legs and sometimes on the hind legs, more commonly in certain breeds. Dew claw removal involves the surgical removal of this toe and associated nails. The nail on these toes often doesn’t wear down like the other nails, so they must be clipped regularly. If they become overgrown, they can get caught and become injured.

Removal is only recommended for medical reasons and our veterinarians can advise you if it is something to consider for your pet. We often recommend removing the dew claws on the hind legs as they are more prone to injury. If we recommend removal, it can be performed under the same anaesthetic as desexing. Sometimes, a small bandage may be applied to protect the surgery site and prevent the pet from licking the area.

Retained deciduous teeth removal.

During your pet's examination after being admitted, its teeth will be checked. Puppies usually lose their deciduous or baby teeth by four to six months, as adult teeth replace these teeth. However, if deciduous teeth are still present when desexing, the veterinarian will usually recommend removing these retained baby teeth.

Removal of retained deciduous teeth in puppies is a standard procedure. Removing these baby teeth allows room for the adult teeth to erupt generally through the mouth's gums.

Umbilical hernia repair

Sometimes, pets, especially dogs, may develop an umbilical hernia after birth. It may look like a small lump at the site of their belly button or umbilicus. An umbilical hernia is where the abdominal muscles don’t meet completely, allowing fat or organs to protrude through the opening.

These hernias are usually diagnosed during a routine examination. They usually do not cause problems; however, large ones can cause serious ones. If they are large, they can be repaired simultaneously as desexing. In female animals, the incision used to desex them can be extended to repair the hernia. In male animals, the hernia is repaired through a separate incision.

Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV)

GDV, more commonly known as bloat, is a life-threatening condition that can affect dogs of certain breeds. These breeds include those with narrow and deep chests like German Shepherds, Great Danes, Dobermans, Wolfhounds and Weimaraner’s. The GDV condition is when the stomach becomes distended with gas and then twists, disrupting the blood supply to the gut and some adjacent organs.

To reduce the risk of GDV, a procedure called gastropexy can be done at the same time as desexing. It has been found that this preventative surgery can reduce the risk of GDV by more than 90%.

A gastropexy surgery involves attaching the stomach to the right side of the abdominal wall, which holds the stomach in place to prevent it from twisting and causing a GDV. If you are interested in this surgery, please book a consultation with one of our veterinarians so they can discuss what’s involved and the different surgical options.

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