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Desexing your pet - what to expect with a desexing procedure

What to Expect with a Desexing Procedure

It is recommended that pets not intended for breeding are desexed, to help reduce health and behavioral issues.

North Road Veterinary Centre is fully equipped with a professional sugical suite and advanced monitoring equipment, to ensure your pet receives the highest standard of care whilst a surgical procedure is performed under general anaesthesia in our hospital.

Desexing is a surgical procedure requiring a general anaesthetic.

It is performed as a day procedure, Monday-Friday. Your pet will usually be admitted early in the morning and discharged in the evening.

We recommend desexing for dogs, cats and rabbits to help prevent some serious medical diseases in later life and also to avoid potential behavioural problems.

We recommend cats to be desexed at 4-6 months of age.

The recommended age for desexing male and female dogs is continually debated, with age recommendations being modified and updated based on ongoing scientific studies. Current recommendations vary between breeds and breed sizes, our team can discuss with you the optimal age for desexing your pet.

We understand any surgical procedure can be an anxious and concerning time for you and your pet.

A health assessment is performed by the surgeon prior to surgery. Pre-anaesthetic blood tests and intravenous fluids are recommended during the procedure.

Advanced anaesthetic monitoring equipment is used, a dedicated anaesthetic nurse is assigned during and in recovery to ensure close monitoring of your pet.

Appropriate pain relief is administered and also dispensed after surgery.

Preparing for Surgery:

  • It is important that your pet's stomach is empty before general anesthesia as the drugs can cause vomiting and lead to aspiration pneumonia during surgery recovery.
  • Please ensure that your pet does not get access to food from 9 pm the night before surgery. If your pet accidentally gets access to food, please contact us immediately.

The Desexing Procedure:

  • Males undergo a castration which is the removal of both testicles from beneath the skin.
  • Females undergo a spey (ovariohysterectomy), which requires abdominal surgery to remove  both the uterus and the ovaries.

The Benefits:

  • Females will not come into heat or become pregnant.
  • Health benefits for females preventing womb infections (pyometra) and breast cancer. Every season a female has before being desexed increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
  • Health benefits for males such as reduced prostate disease, testicular cancer, perianal tumors.
  • Behavioural benefits such as reduced aggressive tendencies, spraying, marking, fighting.

What to Expect after Surgery:

  • We routinely place a desexing tatoo inside the left ear to indicate your pet has been desexed.
  • For males, the groin area will be clipped of hair and there will be a small suture line in front of the scrotum.
  • For females the belly area will be clipped of hair and there will be a suture line in the mid-line.
  • Grogginess.
  • Decreased appetite for 24-48 hours.
  • Mild bruising and discomfort a day after surgery may occur.
  • Mild cough 2-3 days after surgery may occur from the anesthetic tube causing a small amount of irritation to the throat.
  • Mild clipper rash at the surgery site can sometimes occur.

Home Care:

Ensuring the right home care is important in achieving a full recovery.

It is important to:

  • Avoid overexcitement
  • Ensure water is available and accessible
  • Leash walk only until suture removal
  • Limit access to stairs and jumping up on furniture
  • Offer small amounts of water and food the night of surgery - too much may cause vomiting
  • Clean bedding to avoid contamination of the wound
  • Follow strict medication instructions
  • Apply an Elizabethan collar if your pet licks at the sutures or wound
  • Check the suture line every day and keep the area clean and dry
  • Do not bathe or swim until the sutures are removed
  • Suture removal 10-14 days after surgery
  • Resume normal activity following suture removal

NOTE: Intradermal sutures are dissolving sutures in the skin that do not require removal.

Protecting Sutures and Wounds Advice

When to Call Us:

If you notice any of these signs, notify us immediately:

  • Severe bruising or discomfort
  • Swelling or redness around the suture line
  • Swelling or bruising around the scrotum in males
  • Discharge from the suture line
  • Urinary incontinence (leaking of urine following surgery)
  • Vomiting
  • Off food or lethargy for greater than 48 hours
  • Chewing at sutures
  • Broken sutures
  • No stools for more than 2 days from coming home


Here are some commonly asked questions about desexing.

Should a pet be desexed when in heat?

  • If you notice your pet in heat prior to surgery, notify us immediately. Unless it is an emergency, it is often best to wait 2-3 weeks after the heat before booking your pet for desexing. During heat, the uterus has an increased blood supply and can be more fragile.

Are there any behavioural changes associated with desexing?

  • Sexual behaviour will disappear after desexing, however on rare occasions sexual behavior such as mounting may continue.
  • Occasionally pet owners notice behavioral changes after desexing. These are usually described as more consistent and calmer personalities. Desexed females are less likely to urinate at the front door. Desexed males are less likely to roam, mount, mark or fight.

Are desexed pets prone to obesity?

  • Pets become less active with age and, therefore, caloric requirements may decrease.

What is a retained testicle?

  • A retained testicle is a testicle that has not descended into the scrotum by the age of 6 months. Abdominal surgery may be required to locate and remove it. It is very important to remove a retained testicle, retained testicles have an increase likelihood of becoming cancerous later in life.
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