Sterilisation, your questions answered!

I often get asked so many questions from new dog owners on the sterilisation of their pets. To answer as many of your questions as I can I have put together a Q & A with the Vets at Ou Kaapse Vet that will hopefully answer all of your concerns.

A vet examining a dog
What is the right age to sterilise my dog?

For small to medium breed dogs, 6 months of age. For large breed dogs 12 months of age.

Why should I sterilise my dog?

To prevent unwanted litters, to prevent undesirable behaviour and bodily changes (aggression, possessiveness, restlessness, escaping from properties, bleeding from vulva, roaming for mates etc.). Equally importantly, to prevent cancer in later life (the older an unsterilised animal, the greater their chances of developing a range of different cancers related to the reproductive tract) and in females to prevent a potentially life threatening condition known as pyometra (an infection of the uterus that occurs when the cervix in a dog that has not been spayed shuts and traps material in the uterus which then starts putrefying).

Does the breed or size of animal determine on when the time is right?

Yes, generally the larger the dog, the later the animal should be spayed. Please see question number 1 for specifics.

Should I let my female dog have a season first?

No, this is unnecessary and holds no benefit to the animal.

Will it change the character of my dog?

Very rarely does the procedure result in a change to a dog’s personality. The much more common scenario is to see a decrease in aggression related behaviours and as such an increase in sociability, affection, and docility.

A sterilization surgery in progress at Ou Kaapse Vet

Does it prevent cancer?

Absolutely (sterilisation prevents cancers related to the reproductive system later in life)

How is the cost for sterilisation calculated?

The cost is based on the species type, the gender, and the weight of the animal. (the government demands veterinarians discount their own sterilisations to encourage pet owners to sterilise their pets. As such, the price you pay for having your pet sterilised is much less than the procedure would otherwise cost. If you wait until your animal becomes sick because of not having been sterilised at a young age, this discounted rate does not apply)

Will it stop my dogs from developing properly? Both body and brain?

No. If done at the right time (see above recommended ages), no developmental abnormalities should be expected. If done too early however, issues with maturation can occur. We do not recommend sterilizing a patient at a younger age than those stated above unless circumstances deem it a necessity.

Are there any risks involved in sterilisation?

Done by a skilled veterinarian, sterilisation is a quick and safe surgical procedure. As with any surgery, there are risks associated with anaesthesia and unforeseen anatomical challenges, but precautions are taken in this regard. Your pet will be monitored closely throughout the procedure, as a human patient would, and any complication quickly corrected as it arises. The risk is negligible and should not factor in at all in your decision to get your pet sterilised.

What is the recovery time after the operation?

With adequate pain control, sterilisation patients are back to their normal selves within 24-48hrs. This does not mean that they are ready for a trip to doggy day-care or the park, however. We recommend a rest period of 10-14 days, with leash walking allowed, just to be safe and to ensure all heals well.

How long after a season can my dog be sterilised?

Ideally we wait 3 weeks to sterilise a female dog after a heat cycle.   

Thank you to Ou Kaapse Vet for this informative article.

If you would like to contact them click here to go to their website

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