An animal expert has issued a warning to pet owners about the risks around spaying or neutering.

Having your pet neutered can help prevent your pet from developing serious health issues in the future, like certain cancers or pyometra, a serious infection in the uterus. In dogs and cats, neutering also greatly reduces the risk of mammary (breast) cancers occurring as well.

However, it is important to know when and how to have your pet neutered.

Catrin George, animal wellbeing specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, explains everything pet owners need to consider when it comes to having their pets neutered.

Why should I get my pet neutered?

Catrin says: “Neutering your pet can reduce their drive to roam to look for a mate. Not only does this prevent unwanted pregnancies but your pet is also likely to stay closer to home, meaning they have less of a chance to go missing or be involved in road traffic accidents.

“In male dogs, castration will significantly reduce the incidence of prostate disease and it also makes it less likely they will show aggression towards other dogs. 

“For cats learned behaviours like urine spraying or mounting are likely to stay unless addressed by an accredited behaviourist. However, the urine smell from male cats can go away after castration, and early neutering can have a positive impact on your cat’s behaviour.

When should I get my pet neutered?

Catrin says: “Dogs can be neutered from six months old, and some vets recommend letting a female dog have their first season before the procedure. This is something you can discuss with your vet and decide together on the most appropriate neutering plan for your pet, taking into account other factors like size and breed too.

“Cats may be neutered from around four months old, and whilst it’s recommended to get your cat neutered earlier rather than later, they can be neutered at any age after four months. It’s recommended not to let your cat outside until they’re neutered as one female cat and her offspring can produce 370,000 kittens in just seven years.”

What happens to my pet after they’re neutered?

Catrin says: “As your pet’s calorie intake requirements fall after being neutered, many owners notice that their pet gains weight after spaying. To avoid issues such as obesity, it’s important to make sure you change their diet accordingly by reducing portion sizes.

“You will be able to speak to your vet about their diet and daily calories after surgery so that your cat or dog can remain healthy.

“For dogs, maintaining cleanliness and dryness after they’re neutered is key alongside using a mild, pet-safe antiseptic to clean the area as recommended by your vet. It’s advised to avoid bathing your dog until your vet gives you the go-ahead and it's a good idea to restrict any physical activity for your dog until advised otherwise.

“Most cats will need to rest for at least a few days after the surgery until they’ve recovered fully. Your cat will need to wear a cone, inflatable recovery collar, or vet-approved body suit to stop them from licking their incision and prevent infections, too. During the first 24 hours, your vet may recommend giving your cat small amounts of water, and half a portion of their food, to lessen the risk of vomiting.

“It is also a good idea to keep a clean litter box available in an easy-to-reach location, so your cat doesn’t have to climb or move too far and you can also use shredded paper instead of cat litter, to prevent dust and dirt from irritating them. If your cat is prone to adventure when they shouldn’t be, consider using a suitably sized crate to keep them safe.”