Our little girl, Winky (5-month-old Cavoodle puppy), recently went through her desexing surgery. And our male pup Ollie who is now 2 and half years old, also got desexed when he was 6 months. So we thought of sharing our experience just in case it is helpful. Please note this is just our experience, consider your individual circumstances and consult your vet for the best healthcare for your puppy.
What is Desexing?
Desexing or neutering is one of the most common procedures to surgically remove testes or ovaries so that your pup won’t be able to reproduce. It is also known as “spaying” in females and “castration” in males. It’s a routine, one-day procedure that is usually done under general anaesthesia in female pups, and sometimes under general anaesthesia if your male pup has a complication like undescended testes. If all goes well your pup will recover in a few hours and be ready to be home in a few hours.
Why do it?
Desexing can have many benefits and there are numerous scientific studies done to understand the effects of desexing. You can read more about desexing in this review paper. Here is a summary of potential benefits
- Health benefits – Desexing reduces or eliminates common life-limiting diseases of the female reproductive system, such as pyometra and mammary tumours. Some male dogs may have undescended testes, also known as Cryptorchidism (Ollie had this, and the surgery can be complicated – similar to females when this occurs). So It is essential to neuter early to avoid testicular torsion and cancer.
While there are a plethora of health benefits, there can also be health risks such as obesity, ligament rupture and a few cancers. However, studies on these health risks of desexing are limited by the dog’s age and breed and may not apply to the whole dog population.
- Longer lifespan – Studies have shown that female puppies who are desexed tend to live longer. Research on male dogs is inconsistent.
- Prevent unwanted litter – Puppies are a huge responsibility. Not every dog owner can be a breeder due to time constraints, lack of expertise, and experience. Desexing gives peace of mind to let our puppies out and about in parks without worrying about such accidents.
- Behavioural improvements – When it comes to behaviour, most studies were done on male dogs. Desexing has been shown to help with behaviours associated with mating, such as urinary marking, territorial behaviour, wandering away from home etc. It is also demonstrated in both male and female dogs that desexing can reduce human bite injuries.
- Reduced council fees – In Australia, it is a must to register your dogs with the council, and a yearly fee will occur for the lifespan of the dog. If the dog is neutered, this fee can be significantly reduced.
When to desex ?
This is an individual decision, so it should be made upon consultation with your vet. The timing of desexing may defer due to personal circumstances, health risks, and the dog breed. It is recommended to desex early. When they are younger, surgery is less complicated, recovery is faster, and they haven’t developed hormones associated “teenage” behaviours.
We desexed both Ollie and Winks between 5-6 months. We decided this was the right time for us due to a few reasons.
- As mentioned before, Ollie had Unilateral Cryptorchidism, while in some dogs, tests might descend after some time; our vet thought Ollie’s won’t and recommended early desexing to avoid complications.
- When it comes to female pups, some may prefer to wait and let the female dog have the first cycle (go into “heat”), but the chances of mammary cancer increase with each cycle.
- Some dog breeds can be predisposed to orthopaedic issues. So waiting until bone growth is done (refer to your vet’s advice) can be good for reducing any ligament alignment issues
How to prepare for surgery
Always consult your vet and make a pre-surgery appointment to discuss what would suit your puppy. Sometimes vets might recommend pre-surgery blood tests to eliminate risks of going under anaesthesia. Some vets can get busy, so making an appointment early is essential. We had a Saturday early morning surgery appointment for both Ollie and Winks, and the surgery finished by noon. Vets/nurses monitored them for about two hours while they regained consciousness and were ready to go home by 2 pm. We also booked appointments for the weekend and had no other commitments so that we could take care of the pups. Also, remember to follow the vet’s advice, such as not feeding solid food before 9 pm the day before the surgery.
Ask your vet for minimally invasive surgery, especially if you have a male pup who goes through a regular neutering process. One of the best things we did was request intradermal stitches so that they heal quite past (usually within 3 days), and we didn’t have to go back to the vet to remove stitches. Also, keep in mind if your pup is recently vaccinated or your female pup recently went into heat, you will have to wait a few weeks prior to surgery.
Ear tattoo - In Australia, if your pup gets desexed, their ears will be tattooed during/post-surgery. Your vet nurse will ask / you will sign a consent form permitting tattoo. This is important in the rare chance your dog goes missing; they have an accident without your knowledge and are admitted to a vet. We opted out of this for Ollie as he is a male pup. It is easy for a vet to tell whether he is desexed or not. But for female dogs, it is harder to know whether they have gone through desexing without the tattoo. So we went with the tattoo for Winks. It's a small tattoo of a few dots done inside the ear flap and not visible outside.
After going through Ollie’s desexing surgery and his other hospital visits, we wanted to find what is an otherwise traumatic experience for them somewhat pleasant and comfortable. We have a blog post on all things we recommend for a new puppy, but below is a surgery-specific list of things that make the post-surgery experience pleasant.
|Grooming/ Bath||Your pup will not be able to bath at least for 2 weeks post surgery. Therefore getting your pup groomed or giving them a bath day before surgery can really help.||Check out puppy checklist blog post for our grooming kit/ shampoo conditioner recommendations.|
|Elizabethan Collar||It is important not to let your pup lick the wound post surgery as this may lead to infections and other complications. Most people use the plastic collar but this is too uncomfortable and harsh on the pup. We used a soft collar that double as pillow and we made Winks wear it for 10-15 min everyday prior to surgery so she gets used to it.||This soft flower collar from Muse Pets is the best soft recovery collar for pups and cats.|
|Recovery suit||This is also an alternative to Elizabethan collar to stop pup licking or breaking stitches. Since both Ollie and Winks are used to wearing clothes it was a very convenient solution for us. Make sure the the recovery suit is clean and not irritating the wound.||We got ours from Amazon. Winks wear size M and it was delivered in a day via Prime membership. If you are in a hurry tiny baby onesie with a hole cut will work as well.|
|Pain medication||Most vets will give the pup pain medication during and post surgery.||Go with your vet’s recommendation|
|Car ride home||Our car ride to vet is a long one. So it really helped to have a comfortable car seat for Winky to rest. We had a waterproof mat on the car seat incase if she has accidents post surgery as she couldn’t walk to do her business. We also carried a portable water bottle with us so she can have water on the way. We carried food even though she wasn’t interested in them||We recommend booster seats, icansee dog car seat, Petsafe, amazon double seats are reasonable options. |
Read our previous blog post to find out more car essentials.
|Crate / Play pen||In our puppy checklist we discussed why we use crate and play pen. We found them to be super useful to let Winks rest wile she’s recovering. Ollie was so loving towards her but we did not want to take any risks of accidents happening that can delay the recovery.||Dreambaby playpen and Petscene crate|
|Clean areas||It is important to keep the areas that your puppy is going to be at very clean. As they lie down on surfaces chances of catching something that will infect the wound is high.||We use GoodScruff dog-friendly cleaning products to clean and sanitise bedding and floor. We also use Absorb plus pet wipes to clean Winky.|
Post-surgery, both Ollie and Winky were drowsy and wanted to sleep the whole time. We also made sure to give them plenty of love and care during the recovery time and comfort them in every way possible. Ollie and Winks bounced back the next day and were ready to conquer the world. But it is important to reduce activities for 3-4 days (depending on the type of surgery) to stop any damage to the stitches. Having long chews and doing enrichment activities helps to tire them and reduce activities. Our vet’s recommendation was to wait a few days before walks and start with short walks in familiar environments to avoid any infections.
Ollie is now a happy two and half year pup, and Winky is successfully recovering from her surgery. We made the best decision we could for them and us by desexing them. This is our personal experience, and what we learnt during our journey, we acknowledge that personal circumstances are different therefore, please consult your vet before making any decisions.
We hope this article will help you to prepare yourself and your pup when the time comes for them to have their surgery. Please let us know if there are any tips you’d like to share with us. If this article was helpful to you, leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.