Many pet owners struggle with the decision of desexing and whether or not to breed their dog. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your pet, so it’s worth doing some research. As with anything, there are both pros and cons of desexing.

The pros

1. Preventing unwanted litters

Australia has an over-supply of puppies and each year, thousands of puppies are euthanised both here and around the world. Every puppy born requires a good home and, considering one female dog and its offspring can produce approximately 20,000 puppies in the space of five years, that’s a lot of puppies to find homes for! Desexing stops a dog from accidentally breeding, so if you don’t plan on finding quality homes for any future puppies or kittens, desexing your pet will save any unwanted litters.

2. Curbs aggression and dominance issues

Desexing male dogs early enough will reduce the chance of the dog developing aggression problems, without affecting his personality. Most vets recommend getting male dogs desexed by six months of age if you’re not planning on breeding. Desexing should be considered the prevention of aggression, rather than the cure. Without it, dogs can display aggression to other dogs and people, and be very dominant and possessive of toys and food.  

Desexing a female dog can reduce the risk of sudden “PMS-like” symptoms brought on as she goes on “heat”. In between heats, she is in a time of reproductive inactivity and is not receptive to males. Her blood flow to the reproductive organs and hormone levels are at their lowest and all is calm. On heat, however, massive surges of hormones are released and this can affect your dog’s temperament. Your normally docile friend can suddenly get very moody.

Cats are not exempt either, with many cats becoming aggressive when on heat as well.

3. Protects your pet and others

In the early stages of being on heat, a bitch will bleed from her vulva and be very attractive to male dogs (not to mention messy in the home). Dogs can detect a female on heat from several kilometres away and will soon be lining up at your door. If your female isn’t that keen on the dog either, a scuffle can occur.

As ‘whole’ dogs can be aggressive, they are much more likely to run into trouble with other dogs. All it takes is them to pick the wrong fight to get seriously hurt.

4. Reduces the risk of roaming

Male dogs and cats are much more likely to roam in search of a mate which increases the risk of them getting lost, taken, run over or involved in a fight. Reduced roaming also limits contact with infectious diseases, including Feline AIDS.

5. Limits loud mewing

Cats have a breeding season that lasts from about July to March (but sometimes longer) and will come into season or “heat” once every three weeks. During this time, cats cry and howl frequently and can act strangely. Cats on heat will also get aggressive and the noise of cats fighting (or mating) at night can be disturbing for anyone trying to sleep.

6. Prevents illness

There are a number of common illnesses that can be prevented by desexing. These include:

  • Uterine cysts and pyometra in female cats and dogs.
  • Prostate problems and tumours around the anus in male dogs.
  • Hormonal disturbances.
  • Cancer in the mammary glands.
  • Mastitis in the mammary glands.
  • Tumours and cysts of the ovaries and testicles.

7. Limits spraying and marking

Tomcats love to spray urine all over the walls in your house and dogs will cock their leg at everything in sight when not desexed. This is part of their procedure for marking their territory and can create some rather awful smells.

8. They won’t necessarily become overweight

Many people fear that their dog will get “fat and lazy” when desexed, but this can easily be explained and prevented. Your pet’s metabolism changes following the procedure and less food is required to maintain the same body weight. Desexing itself doesn’t cause obesity, it’s the quantity and quality of food you give your pet that causes it. If you reduce your pet’s food intake to counter for the fact they make more efficient use of food, instead of diverting food into making hormones, there’s no reason why your pet should put on weight.

9. Your pet insurance premium will be lower

Petsecure believes that de-sexing plays a role in responsible pet ownership and, to support families who take this action, our premiums take account of whether or not a pet has been de-sexed.

The cons

1. No breeding

There are no real disadvantages to desexing your cat or your dog, other than that they won’t be able to produce offspring. Even then, this is only a disadvantage if you are unsure whether or not to breed. If you don’t plan on breeding your pet, desexing is a much kinder thing to do than keeping your pet isolated when on heat.

2. Rare cases of hyperthyroidism

In rare cases, lethargy and weight gain can be the result of hypothyroidism, which can stem from desexing. Hypothyroidism can also lead to skin infections and hair loss.

3. Increased risk of the following conditions

  • Increased risk of urinary incontinence, when leaking of urine occurs while relaxed or sleeping.
  • Increased risk of hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament disease.
  • Increased risk of cognitive disorder in old age, essentially “doggie dementia”.  
  • Possible increased risk of neoplasias.

Desexing your pet

Generally speaking, there is little or no reason to keep your pet able to procreate if you don’t plan on breeding them. The benefits of desexing far outweigh the minimal cons, and many animal lovers feel that desexing is the more humane option if you don’t plan to allow your pet to breed. False and unwanted pregnancies are never good, and desexing puts a stop to this as well as helping to keep your pet safe.

Still not convinced? Consider this: desexed pets are significantly cheaper to register with the council and will be less likely to escape in search of a mate!

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Liz Walden

Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure marketing for the past 10 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals