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All you need to know about desexing your pet

Published on 28 May 2021

Adorable pets kitten and labrador retriever puppy sleeping together

Vetchat vets advocate for desexing of family pets and responsible breeding for those who are not. As July is National Desexing Month, it’s the perfect time to take another look at the ins and outs of desexing pets.

Why should you desex your pet?


1. Health

First and foremost, desexed pets are healthier pets. It reduces the likelihood that your kitten or puppy will suffer from illness and disease that are common in undesexed pets such as mammary cancer, uterine infection (pyometra), prostate issues and perineal hernia. 

Overall, desexed pets live longer, healthier lives.

2. Curb those instincts

When a pet reaches adolescence their sex hormones tend to have behavioural effects as well. There’s an increased urge to roam, and to fight. Unfortunately, roaming can often lead to an increased chance of getting into a fight with another animal, to injury from cars, fences etc and even to getting lost. 

Male cats in particular also have an increased smell to their urine and are more likely to spray in the house. For females roaming and mating can lead to pregnancy.

3. Oversupply of pets

Did you know that approximately 250,000 cats and dogs are put to sleep annually in Australia alone? It goes without saying that desexing your pet, whether feline, canine or lapine, will prevent unwanted babies. 

As well as being an immediate plus for families who don’t want more than they bargained for, this is a simple way in which you can help minimise the many unwanted pets that are given away, abandoned, or put down each year.

When should you desex your pet?

Most shelters and rescue organisations have desexing performed at a very young age, around 8 weeks old. This is to ensure they are desexed before they are rehomed.

In a home environment, you can wait until a slightly later age. Typically Veterinarians recommend desexing at around 6 months of age. Dogs come into season from 8 months of age (sometimes from 6 months), and kittens can become pregnant as early as four months old, so even having them desexed at 6 months of age you need to ensure they cannot get pregnant in the time before. Desexing at this age means that the absence of sex hormone reduced the likelihood of mammary cancer in females, and behavioural traits such as roaming and aggression.

There is evidence in large and giant breeds of dogs that desexing can delay the closure of growth plates and predispose to some orthopaedic conditions. For responsible pet owners who can easily control their pets, it may be ok to wait until they are a year of age to desex.

The pros and cons associated with timing need to be weighed up for each individual pet.

How to desex your pet?

Your local veterinarian can perform the anaesthetic and procedure for your pet. It’s a routine day procedure, which is not only of great benefit to you and your pet, but also to the greater society.

Dr. Claire Jenkins VetChat founder & CEO

Dr. Claire Jenkins

VetChat founder & CEO, BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (SAM)

Claire has spent the past 15 years caring for animals as a Small Animal Veterinarian in the UK, Melbourne and is now based in Sydney. She is passionate about early intervention and how easy access to the right advice drives better health outcomes for pets. Claire’s a life-long animal lover, passionate problem solver and adorer of her gorgeous Kelpie ‘Red’.

Dr. Claire Jenkins's Pets

  • RedRed

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