Responsible pet ownership means making choices that help you and your companion animal (pet) have a safe and happy life. Desexing is a very important part of this and it is crucial to understand the role that desexing plays for the health, safety and protection of your companion animal.
Desexing animals not only helps to prevent unwanted pregnancies – meaning fewer unwanted animals - but also research shows that desexed animals can actually live longer and healthier lives. Desexing can reduce the risk of certain diseases and behavioural issues, benefiting your animal’s health and welfare.
Here are some of the ways that desexing benefits both your companion animal and the community.
To prevent unwanted litters, injuries and roaming.
One of the most common reasons for desexing animals is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The RSPCA receives over 103,000 animals every year and many of these unwanted animals are the result of unplanned breeding.
Desexing reduces the risks involved with your pet being pregnant, giving birth, and raising young. Did you know that cats can get pregnant as early as four months of age?! Therefore, it is important to desex them before this time to protect them from unwanted pregnancies.
Desexed animals are also less likely to roam, which reduces the risk of them being involved in a traumatic accident such as being hit by a car, becoming lost, getting into fights, being exposed to infectious diseases and fighting with other animals. Keeping your pet contained to your property will also help reduce roaming.
Keeping our pets healthy
Desexed animals are generally less likely to suffer from certain diseases and illnesses such as mammary cancer and uterine infections in females and prostate problems in males.
Desexing can also help prevent behaviours that are associated with the reproductive cycle that can be distressing, unpleasant, and challenging to deal with; for example, female cats ‘calling’ or female dogs having a blood vaginal discharge when they are on heat/in season and male dogs attempting vigorously to get to females in heat. Desexing cats and dogs can also help reduce problem behaviours such as aggression and urine marking in males.
Desexing is important for your pet rabbits too
It’s not just about cats and dogs either! Did you know it is important to have your pet rabbit desexed too? Desexing has numerous benefits for both male and female pet rabbits similar to those for cats and dogs. These include reducing problem behaviours, facilitating easier bonding with new rabbits joining the family, preventing unwanted pregnancies and minimising health issues in the future such as cancer of reproductive organs.
Desexing is best performed at a young age (16 to 20 weeks), so talk to your veterinarian when you first acquire your rabbit to find out more about the procedure and the recovery process to allow good planning. Generally, rabbits should live as part of a bonded pair of rabbits and desexing will assist with the bonding process. When planning to bond rabbits, it is best to have your rabbits desexed at least four to five weeks before introduction.
Desexing is one of the most responsible choices you can make as a pet owner. Not only does it provide health and behavioural benefits for your companion animal, but it can potentially increase the time you have with them. Desexing also helps to prevent the number of unwanted animals who are in need of a home.
If you are looking to have your companion animal desexed contact your local veterinarian. If you are adopting, remember to ask the important question -is the animal desexed? or visit a shelter that desexes animals prior to adoption such as the RSPCA.
For more information on desexing your companion animal and the importance of early-age desexing, visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase
This piece was originally published in Australian Community Media newspapers