Spaying: bitches can generally be spayed from 6 months of age unless they are of some larger breeds (see list below), or have been docked..... we recommend that these bitches have one season before being spayed. Spaying is then generally arranged 6-12 weeks after the first season has ended.
Breeds that should be allowed to have one season before elective spaying include: Old English Sheepdogs, Rottweilers, Dobermanns, Weimeraners, Giant Schnauzers, Boxers, and Irish Setters.
Early spaying of bitches can help prevent ovarian and womb disease later in life and (if done before the 2nd season) has a dramatic protective effect against mammary cancer. It will also prevent the inconvenience of seasons and unwanted pregnancies.
Castration: we do not routinely advise the castration of all male dogs. However, it may be advisable to curb any undesirable behavioural "male" traits (such as straying, aggression or randiness) which may become more and more apparent after 6 months of age. Castration may also help prevent certain diseases such as prostatic enlargement/cancer, perianal and testicular cancers.
Castration rarely produces undesirable changes in temperament. Any weight change can be controlled by management of the diet. It is notable that there is little problem with male Guide Dogs that have all been castrated. Veterinary advice should always be sought on each individual case.
If indicated, we normally would electively castrate dogs between 6 and 8 months of age.
The neutering of all pet cats is strongly advised and this can be done from 4 months of age if necessary.
Spaying of female cats stops unwanted pregnancies and the inconvenience of seasons every 3 weeks in the spring/summer.
Castration of male cats will generally help prevent urine spraying in the house and fighting behaviour.
The spaying and castration of pet rabbits is recommended; males can be castrated from 10 weeks of age, females from 12 weeks. Neuetring prevents unwanted pregnancies, aggression between rabbits and it also prevents uterine cancer (womb cancer) in older female rabbits (which affects about 40% of unspayed females later in life).
The neutering of all pet ferrets is normally recommended. Unneutered female ferrets run a high risk of being permanently in season (unless they are mated) and this can cause a fatal anaemia. Spaying prevents this. Another method to control this problem is to use a vasectomised hob (male) ferret to mate with the female.The castration of male ferrets will help reduce fighting behaviour and the smell.
There is some debate about the role of neutering and the development of adrenal gland disorders in ferrets; any decision to neuter must take this into account....speak to the veterinary surgeon about this. There is also now an implant to control seasons and fertility in ferrets, but it is is very expensive. Ask for details if interested.