Printer-friendly versionNeutering your dog is important for a number of very good reasons. It will prevent unwanted litters of puppies, as well as reducing the incidence of antisocial behaviour and quite a number of common diseases and infections (see our articles Problems of the Older Male Dog and Problems of the Older Bitch).


Dogs may be castrated from 6 months of age onwards. Neutering reduces roaming and fighting and may be helpful for dominance and aggression problems. It also reduces the risk of some diseases later in life, such as prostate gland problems, testicular tumours, and anal adenomas (another form of cancer).

In some dogs, one or both testicles fail to descend properly into the scrotum at birth, giving rise to conditions known as monorchidism and cryptorchidism respectively. These are thought to be largely hereditary conditions, and therefore affected animals should not be bred from (and cannot be shown). Retained testicles have a high risk of becoming cancerous, and because the testicles are not visible when they are retained in the abdomen, this is often not noticed until the condition is well advanced and may have spread to other organs. We therefore strongly recommend that all monorchid and cryptorchid animals should be castrated.


Bitches come into season from 6 – 9 months of age, and the season lasts about 2 – 3 weeks. The first sign is a swelling of the vulva. This is followed by a bloody discharge – although all you may notice is the bitch licking herself excessively. This stage lasts 8 -13 days on average, but is extremely variable. During this time the bitch will become attractive to male dogs. After this the discharge becomes clearer, the bitch will stand to be mated and she is truly in season. Again this stage is very variable, but typically lasts 4 – 7 days. Some bitches can be mated and conceive whilst they are bleeding. Most bitches come into season every 6 – 8 months or so.

False pregnancies are quite common about 2 months after the bitch has been in season, and can lead to behavioural changes, nesting, vomiting or inappetance, and the production of milk.

Bitches should not be spayed whilst they are in season or during a false pregnancy, therefore the best time for spaying is 3 months after a season. If you do not intend to breed from your bitch we recommend having her spayed either before her first season i.e. at about 6 months of age, or 3 months after her first season. Spaying before the first season reduces the risk of mammary tumours later in life by about 70%. This effect rapidly diminishes with each season. Spaying at any age prevents the life threatening condition of pyometra (womb infection). There is absolutely no ‘need’ for a bitch to have a litter before she is spayed.

Neutering of any animal may slightly reduce its metabolic rate and therefore reduce the food requirement for a normal body weight. Careful attention to diet will prevent excessive weight gain and is important to your pet’s health. We are happy to advise on the optimum diet for your pet – please feel free to ask a vet or veterinary nurse about your pet’s diet.

What is involved?

When you book your pet in for his or her operation with the receptionist, you will be asked not to feed him/her after 8.00pm the night before, and to remove the water bowl when you go to bed. This is important as a full stomach increases the risk of your pet being sick when coming around from anaesthetic, which can be dangerous. You will be asked to bring your pet into the surgery between 8.30 and 9.00 am on the morning of the operation. A nurse will ask you to read and sign a consent form.

The nurse will then take your pet through to the hospital area where he/she will be weighed and given a pre-med injection. This reduces any anxiety and allows a smoother transition into and out of anaesthesia. Your pet is then bedded down in our kennels until he or she is ready for the operation. A short acting anaesthetic is administered by injection into a vein in the leg, which causes the animal to fall asleep within a few seconds. A tube is then placed into the animal’s airway and connected to an anaesthetic machine which keeps him or her asleep on a gaseous anaesthetic for the duration of the operation. The anaesthetic is monitored throughout the operation by a trained nurse, and once the operation is over your pet is kept on oxygen until he/she starts to wake up; this takes only a few minutes. Your pet will be given antibiotic and a pain-killing injection and is returned to the recovery kennels, where they are fully monitored until fully conscious. Patients for routine operations are usually allowed home the same day, and we ask you to call the practice at 2.00pm, to see how awake your pet is, and to arrange a time for discharge.

We like to check all operations after about 3 days, and any stitches are removed after about 10 days. There is no charge for these two post-operative check-ups.