The birds and the bees

Sterilisation/ Sterilization/ Neutering/ De-sexing (they all refer to the same thing)

This has been a long standing topic of discussion amongst pet owners, on forums, breeders, vets, vet nurses, vet technicians, etc.
There is SOOOooo much to talk about this topic that I will be covering this topic in 2 parts.
Part 1- advantages, disadvantages
Part 2- Debunking myths and addressing the “concerns” people may have with regards to this.

Perhaps due to the clientele and the nature of our emergency work over in Perth, I rarely saw the need to discuss the pros and cons of sterilization. I would say approximately 95% of clients that I consulted with have sterilized animals. While the other 5% were adamant they were never going to consider the option.

However now that I’m back in Singapore, the topic becomes ever so important.
3 years ago when I was still working at JTVC, we only saw an average of 60% of animals that we neutered.  Pyometra (infection of the uterus- which results in a build up of purulent material/ “PUS”)  surgeries were weekly occurrences and mammary cancers were not uncommonly seen.

I will never be able to forget my first pyometra surgery patient-a middle age miniature Schnauzer that was carried in on a Sunday morning. This was also my very FIRST weekend as a practicing veterinarian (with no senior veterinarian working on duty). She laid immobile on the table, severely dehydrated and had a raging temperature of 42degrees. The clients reported that she had been inappetant for an ENTIRE WEEK.
She had an open pyometra (I could see visible purulent discharge dripping out of her vulva) as such I was certain of my diagnosis. Cost was a huge factor to their decision making and they consented only to the surgery, and to zero pre-anaesthetic blood work and aftercare.

I was insomniac for nights after, not because I was uncertain of my surgical skills. But because she was terribly unwell and yet I had to discharge her immediately post-op. I called them several days after and fortunately she was doing better.

Getting back to the discussion of Pros and Cons. I will first cover Cons as the advantages far outnumber the disadvantages and there’s just so much to talk about!

Cons/ Disadvantages
1. Discomfort post surgery that could last from the next 24-72 hours.
Some vet clinics routinely provide animals with a single dose of anti-inflammatory post-op to help provide pain relief for the next 24 hours.
2. Some animals may need Elizabethan collars postop for the next 7-10 days to prevent them from licking their incision site.
3. Some clients have reported of decreased bowel movements over a period of 2-3 days.
4. A clipped fur patch at the surgical site (please note that fur WILL grow back after a short period of time)

small clipped fur patch for a spay in a female cat


(Will discussed concerns such as hip dysplasia, urinary incontinence, overweight probability in the Part 2)

Pros/ Advantages
1. Population control/ prevention of indiscriminate reproduction
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Singapore takes in approximately 7000-8000 dogs and cats each year.

2.Reduced chance of mammary neoplasia in sterilized female cats and dogs.
Animals spayed BEFORE their first heat (<6months of age) would have a reduced rate by 91-99%.

3. Elimination of uterine or ovarian cancer
There’s ZERO chance in contracting this if your female animal is spayed

4. Permanent prevention of Pyometra (Infection of the uterus)
Complete elimination of this condition if your female animal is spayed.
Pyometra often occurs with repeated heat cycles, as such-affected animals are often more mature/ geriatric. Animals inflicted with this condition are often very ill and this can ultimately cause death. Immediate surgical intervention is the only reliable treatment for this condition. Surgery for this often cost significantly more than a routine spay.

5. Permanent prevention of pseduopregnancy and associated complications(such as mastitis)
Pseudopregnancies are caused by an imbalance in hormones that typically inflicts female dogs 1-2 months after their season

6. Reduction in aggressiveness, territorial marking, dominant behavior.

7. Reduction in anxiety

8. Complete elimination of testicular tumors in castrated male cats and dogs
This is especially so in cryptorchid males (males with undescended testicles).

9. Reduction in the chance of perineal hernias, prostate tumors
These conditions often afflict older/ mature animals and surgical castration would be recommended as part of their treatment plan.

Dee the night she returned home from being sterilized.


As you can tell, the medical benefits in neutering an animal far outweighs the possible disadvantages. Veterinarians have a duty of care to inform this to their clients as this procedure could affect the animal’s quality of life and potentially result in death if not performed.

In part 2, I will cover the recommendations of sterilization, discuss concerns clients may bring up on this topic of sterilization and also debunk myths about the procedure.
SO stay tuned!!

5 thoughts on “The birds and the bees

Add yours

  1. I never heard of some of these potential problems, like mammary neosplasia. Going back to my mom’s first cat in the early 60’s, we always, always had them spayed or neutered. I wish more people here in Ireland would do it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good on you guys on getting then neutered even in the early 60s! Fast forward to the current times and it’s still quite shocking how many people still refuse to do so due to the lack of understanding or stigma associated with it.
      Unfortunately mammary cancers is something I see quite often. And often it has metastasis to other areas of the body by the time the client presents their pet to us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I generally get clients to run their hand through the animals fur and belly. They generally start as small nodules around their mammary glands/teats. But if she was sterilised when she was an adolescent then the risk should be quite low!


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