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Here at Rothesay Bay Veterinary Clinic we desex pets every week.

The majority of pet cats, dogs, and rabbits in Auckland are desexed. Whether you should desex your pet is obviously up to you but we try and give you as much information in the following sections.

What is the difference between neutering, spaying and castrating?

In general spaying refers to the removal of ovaries and uterus from a female animal, castration refers to the removal of testicles from a male animal and neutering can apply to either!

What are the benefits of neutering your pet?

• A reduction in the incidence of mammary cancer in female cats and dogs,  desexing female dogs prior to their first heat provides a reduced risk of mammary tumour development, and avoids the possibility of pyometra.

• A reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer, perineal hernias and perianal tumours in male dogs

• Reduced territory marking in male cats particularly

• Reduced aggression in male dogs and cats towards other males

• Reduced roaming behaviour in male cats and dogs

• Elimination of seasons in females with many practical and psychological benefits

Pre-pubertal desexing – considerations

There is no association between age at desexing and frequency of occurrence of most behavioural and medical conditions. There may be some physical differences. Surgery is easier and quicker in younger animals as they have less fat and blood vessels are smaller. However when dogs and cats are desexed prior to 14 weeks there are some anaesthetic and physiological considerations.


There is no difference in food intake or weight gain between dogs and cats desexed before puberty and those desexed after puberty. Metabolism has been demonstrated to be decreased in desexed cats regardless of age at desexing. In one study, earlier desexing of dogs was correlated with decreased obesity. Obesity is a multifactorial disease of which desexing may only play a part.

Disease predisposition

Some studies show that there is an increased risk of oestrogen-responsive urinary incontinence with decreasing age of desexing in female dogs. 

The risks and benefits of the early procedure should be considered and where population control is not the primary issue, it may be advisable to delay desexing of female dogs until they are at least 3–4 months of age. In one study, the incidence of cystitis has been shown to be increased in female dogs desexed prior to 5.5 months of age, but no episodes of the condition occurred more than twice.

When is the best time to neuter your pet?

We recommend discussing this with us in more detail in the practice because each individual case varies. Dogs and cats are generally desexed from 5-6 months of age.

Whether you end up neutering your pet is of course, a personal decision for you as the owner of your family pet. Our role is to provide you with all the information you require and give you the different options available. We are happy to discuss neutering with you over the phone but some cases will require a visit to the practice so that we can examine your pet and give you the best possible advice.

Do you have any more questions about desexing your family pet? Just call us today on 09 479 7282 or email us on and we are happy to discuss your options in more detail with you.