Challenging the myths about neutering

Tuesday was World Spay Day – an international event to raise awareness of the importance of neutering.

Neutering (spaying or castrating) a pet means removing the reproductive organs – for females the ovaries and womb, and in males the testicles. This prevents unplanned litters at a time when so many animals desperately need homes.

Neutering also has important health benefits for your pet, explains PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing explains: “Neutering prevents or reduces the risk of several life-threatening diseases. For females this includes pyometra – a fairly common but potentially fatal womb infection.

“In males, castration prevents illnesses such as testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate disease. In male cats, castration can also reduce the instinct to roam and fight, resulting in fewer nasty injuries and diseases such as FIV (the cat equivalent of HIV). It can also reduce spraying indoors, something every cat owner dreads.

“For rabbits, neutering can reduce hormonal aggression, enabling bonding without too much fighting. This allows them to live with other rabbits in harmony, which is vitally important for them to be happy and healthy.”

Despite all the benefits, almost 4 million cats, dogs, and rabbits* in the UK remain unneutered. So PDSA vets have tackled some of the most common myths around this.

Myth: my pet should have a litter first before being neutered.

Reality: untrue. There is no evidence to show any benefit to your pet having a litter first. In fact, in many cases the earlier your pet is neutered, the more health benefits there are. You’ll also be saving yourself a lot of worry of finding suitable homes for litters and the burden on rehoming centres.

Myth: my pet needs to have a season first before she can be neutered.

Reality: untrue for cats, but for dogs it’s not as clear cut. Cats can be neutered from four months old, and this is recommended to prevent unwanted litters. For female dogs, speak to your vet for advice about what’s best for your individual dog, as it’ll depend on their breed, size and other factors. Most dogs can be neutered from as young as six months old, which is usually before their first season, but for some your vet may advise waiting a little longer.

Myth: neutering is invasive and risky surgery

Reality: neutering is a quick, usually straightforward procedure carried out by vets on a daily basis. In almost all cases, your pet will be sent home the same day with pain relief to keep them comfortable, and post-operative care instructions.

With a little rest and care, recovery tends to be swift afterwards.

For more myth-busting about neutering, visit

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

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