Christmas Time for Pets

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  • Female animals: The common name for neutering a female is spaying, which consists of removing the uterus and ovaries. The technical term is ovario-hysterectomy.
  • Male animals: The common name for neutering a male is castration, which involves the removal of the testicles.

Ages for Neutering

  • Bitches (The following is to ensure that the bitch is skeletally mature before neutering):
    • Up to 15kgs, spay at 5.5 months – 7 months
    • 15-35kgs, spay at 7-9 months, after first heat
    • 35kgs + , spay at 18 months
  • Male dogs: 5 months old
  • Cats (both male and female): 4.5 months
  • Rabbits (female): 6-9 months
  • Rabbits (male): 4.5 months
  • Guinea pigs (males only): 4 months


Ireland has five times more stray dogs than the UK. The chances of a dog becoming a stray and ending up destroyed is 20 times greater for a dog in Ireland than it is for a dog in the UK. There is an overpopulation crises and the ongoing destruction rate of 27 dogs per day in Irish pounds is a result of this crisis. While no official figures exist for numbers of stray or destroyed cats in Ireland, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the country’s feline destruction rate is even higher than the canine equivalent.

Reasons for Neutering

  • Neutering increases your pet’s changes for a longer, healthier life – Spaying your female pet reduces her chances of developing mammary cancer and eliminates the threat of uterine and ovarian infections.
  • Neutering your male dog or cat prevents testicular cancer and may prevent prostate problems. Neutered cats are less likely to roam and fight or get killed on the roads.
  • A neutered dog or cat is a better pet – Males neutered early in life are less aggressive towards other dogs and are not distracted by females in heat.
  • Spaying your female pet eliminates the problem of stray males camping in your garden and decreases her desire to roam and breed.
  • Spaying prevents your pet from giving birth to unwanted puppies and kittens. It also stops the messy and difficult twice-annual heat period. You are helping to alleviate the dog and cat overpopulation problems we have in Ireland.

Excuses for Not Neutering

  • “My pet will get fat and lazy”
    Pets that become fat and lazy after being neutered are usually overfed and under exercised.
  • “Shouldn’t a female pet have one litter first?”
    Allowing a female dog/cat to produce a litter does not have any benefits. There are health risks to the mother during the pregnancy and when giving birth. Finding good homes for puppies and kittens is not easy. Even if you manage to place your pet’s offspring, you are condemning to death the numbers of unwanted animals in shelters and pounds who are in desperate need of good homes.
  • “Spaying and Neutering isn’t natural”
    Humans domesticated animals and brought them into our lives. The environment we and our pets live in is very different from the natural one. We have made them dependent on us, which means we are responsible for their well being, just as we are with any other family member.
  • “We can sell the litter and make money”
    Even well known breeders are fortunate if they break even on raising purebred litters. Vaccinations, health care costs and feeding consume most of the profit.
  • “I am concerned about my pet undergoing anaesthesia”
    Although there is always a slight risk involved, anaesthetics used by veterinarians are very safe. The medical benefits of having your pet neutered or spayed far outweigh the slight risk involved with undergoing anaesthesia.

Neutering a Dog

This is a most important subject. Some owners believe it is unfair to deny their pet the opportunity to breed; however, mating is not necessarily advisable for health or happiness.
Every day in Ireland, approximately 27 unwanted and abandoned puppies and dogs have to be put to sleep…..

The average female dog comes on ‘heat’ twice yearly. This may last for 1 month. During this time, a bitch is ready for mating and pregnancy may result. As well as being messy and inconvenient, she will need to be kept apart from male dogs for the duration to prevent unwanted puppies.

Spaying is now a routine operation, performed under general anaesthetic. It usually involves just a day spent at with us, and she will have recovered fully in approximately 2 weeks.


At the Allcare Veterinary Hospital we offer the option of Laparoscopic neutering which is minimally invasive and had rapid recovery

  • Female dogs are generally spayed about 5.5 months of age, but your pet can be spayed at any age.
  • A spayed bitch will not come into season again, and so will not become pregnant.
  • Spaying prevents womb infections, which are very serious, and can be life threatening.
  • Spayed bitches are far less likely to develop mammary or breast cancer, which can be life threatening also.
  • After spaying dogs will not put on weight, as long as they are fed sensibly and exercised regularly. You may find that your dog does not require as much food after the operation.
  • Contrary to popular belief, neutering has absolutely no affect on a dog’s temperament or personality. It is just an old wives tale that a dog needs to have a litter of puppies.
  • Uncastrated male dog’s behaviour can alter greatly when a local bitch is in heat. They will escape at any opportunity, and may cause or be involved in a road traffic accident; get into fights with other dog’s, or worst of all, get lost and go missing, possibly forever.
  • Male dogs are usually castrated at about 5 months of age, but can be done at any age.
  • Neutering or castrating your dog is another straight forward operation, that usually involves just a day stay with us, and dogs usually make a complete recovery within 2 weeks.
  • As well as making your dog less likely to stray, dog’s tend to be less aggressive and less likely to fight, and often more amenable to training.
  • Castrated dogs will not develop testicular cancer, and are far less likely to have prostate trouble or anal tumours.
  • Neutering your dog is not as expensive as you may think…. It is certainly cheaper than the cost of an unplanned pregnancy and raising a litter of pups, or the vet’s bill following your dog’s road accident.
  • Neutering is the only guaranteed way of preventing unplanned puppies being born, and the needless destruction of thousands of dogs every year.









A pet is not just for Christmas.It is estimated that more than one-in-five puppies or kittens given as Christmas presents will ultimately be handed into shelters as unsuitable.

If you are thinking about buying a pet for Christmas, ask yourself a few questions before making this big decision.

Am I ready for a commitment?

Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. The average dog lives for 13 years. The average lifespan for a cat is 15 years but they can live into their twenties.

Do I have the time?

Be honest, do you have the time to devote to looking after a pet? They are similar to babies in the time and energy they demand. They can not be left alone for hours. They need to be house trained and they also need play time, including socialisation with other animals.

Am I financially ready?

Really consider whether you have enough disposable income to pay for a pet’s needs. Vaccinations, spaying, neutering , food, toys , cattery or unexpected vet appointments and surgeries aren’t easy on the wallet.

Will my lifestyle still accommodate a dog or cat in five to fifteen years?

Think about the future. Do you own your home, or do you rent?Does your tenancy agreement allow you to keep pets? Are you planning to move away in the next couple of years? Make sure to take all those factors into consideration before getting a cat or dog.

Is Christmas really a good time to get a new pet?

Christmas is always a very hectic time of the year with relatives and friends arriving. Unusual noise, activities and extra demands upon the household can make it difficult for any pet to settle into their new homes.

Here are some tips to keep your  pets safe and well over christmas.

DON’T feed your pet left overs from your Christmas meal. Poultry bones can get stuck or cause perforations, and rich food can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

DON’T feed your pets christmas cake or mince pies as raisins (and grapes) are toxic. Some dogs can eat quite a few grapes or raisins without any obvious side effects, others can eat just a few and suffer fatal kidney failure.

DON’T feed your pet chocolate, it’s another potential toxin. (For more information see our winter poisons post.)

DON’T leave pets unattended around your Christmas tree. Pets love playing and chewing with bright shiny objects, including fairy light wires. Electrocution or gastro-intestinal blockages could occur.

DO ensure that your pets have someone quiet they can take themselves off to, if you are expecting lots of guests.

DO ensure your pets are microchipped so they can be identified. They may get cold in winter weather or scared by Christmas festivities and seek shelter in unlikely places. Don’t leave your pets unattended outside- they can be quickly stolen leading up to christmas time and sold on. keep them safe and well and in your sight

DO wrap up short haired dogs, (and those that are young or old), with dog jackets, if you are out walking in very cold weather.

DO wash your dog’s feet if they have been walking on gritted pavements. The salt can be very irritant to their paws.

DON’T allow pets near frozen ponds or canals. However often people are warned of the dangers, nearly every year fatalities (both animal and human) occur.

DON’T GIVE PETS AS PRESENTS! A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. <3 <3



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