Neutering of Dogs, Cats, Rabbits and Ferrets

Statement

 

The BSAVA strongly recommends that the neutering of companion animals should be considered for reasons of population control and the prevention of unwanted litters.

The decision as to whether to neuter the individual animal for medical or behavioural reasons needs to consider factors such as species, sex, breed and age of the animal as well as current and future health status. Veterinary advice should always be sought regarding the risks and benefits in individual cases.

There are now several options regarding the timing and methods of neutering and these options should be discussed between the owner and veterinary surgeon when making decisions for an individual animal.

 Date 1st May 2019
 Authors Members of BSAVA Scientific Committee (Paula Boyden, Sarah Caddy, Jeremy Kirk, Alex German, Lisa Morrow, Ian Nicholson, Ian Ramsey, Ian Self, Melissa Upjohn, Adrian Ward)

Background information

Cats

The BSAVA strongly supports the practice of neutering cats (castration of males (tom cats) and ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy (spaying) of females (queens)) for the over-riding reason of preventing unwanted kittens, thus removing the problems associated with finding homes or increasing the stray population.

Additional benefits of neutering cats include:

  • Reduction of roaming, and thus a potential reduction in numbers of cats injured or killed in road traffic accidents.
  • Reduction in fighting, and thus reduction in infected wounds and abscesses and spread of infection.
  • Elimination of the risks of pregnancy, and its complications as well as ovarian and uterine diseases.
  • Significant reduction in the risk of mammary tumours.
  • Neutering of cats is also likely to reduce the risk of urine spraying.
  • To prevent the perpetuation of genetic defects.

The BSAVA is a member of the Cat Group and supports the policy of pre-pubertal neutering (i.e at 4 months of age or older rather than at the traditional 6 months of age or older).

The BSAVA does not support the practice of routinely neutering of cats under the age of 4 months. However, in some circumstances, neutering earlier than 4 months’ old may be deemed desirable after careful assessment of the relative risks and benefits both to the cat and to the general management of the cat population. When neutering cats less than 8 weeks of age, sufficient and due regard should be made of the physiological immaturity of the cat.

Dogs

The BSAVA recommends that neutering of dogs (castration of males and ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy of females) should be considered in the following circumstances:

  •  For population control and to prevent the perpetuation of genetic defects.
  •  To prevent potential problems associated with the oestrus cycle (oestrus, season, or heat) and false pregnancy.
  •  For medical reasons, e.g. to prevent or remove testicular tumours, or reduce perianal adenoma or prostatic hyperplasia.
  •  To prevent or remove pyometra and other uterine diseases.
  •  To aid in the reduction of unwanted behaviours in male dogs, such as straying response to bitches in season, sexual mounting   behaviour and hormonally driven  aggression.

Before neutering for reasons of undesirable behaviour it is important to consult a veterinary surgeon or animal behaviourist to ascertain the role of sexual hormones in the development and maintenance of the behaviour The BSAVA does not have a specific view on pre-pubertal neutering in dogs but does not support the practice of routinely neutering dogs under the age of 4 months.

Rabbits

The BSAVA recommends that all non-breeding rabbits should be neutered (ovario-hysterectomy and castration, respectively, for females and males) soon after they attain sexual maturity. The exact age varies with respect to breed, ranging from 4-6 months and up to 9 months in giant breeds.

Benefits of neutering include:

  • The prevention of pregnancy and unwanted litters.
  • The reduction of undesirable sexual mounting behaviour and hormonally related aggression.
  • The prevention of pseudo-pregnancy.
  • For medical reasons such as the prevention and treatment of uterine neoplasia and other uterine diseases.

Ferrets

The BSAVA recommends that, as a general principal, alternatives to surgical neutering should be recommended in ferrets, but that options and potential risks and benefits should be explained and discussed with owners to choose the best solution for the individual ferret and the owners’ particular situation and requirements.

 
Links

The Cat Group

Additional information The time and pattern of eruption of the permanent teeth of the cat.

Berman E. Lab Anim Sci. 1974 Dec;24(6):929-31

Provenance

BSAVA Council as Policy Statement No. 25 (Castration of dogs) 1999 updated 2006

BSAVA Council as Policy Statement No. 29 (Neutering of cats) 1999. Updated 2006

Neutering of rabbits Approved by BSAVA council 2007.

BSAVA Council as Policy Statement No. 24 (Spaying of bitches) 1999 updated 2006

Latest Update Scientific Committee 2019

 

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