Desexing Your Pet

What is desexing?

Desexing is a routine surgery which involves the removal of reproductive organs permanently. The procedure is performed by a veterinarian and is always performed under general anaesthetic. 


A castration is a surgical procedure whereby both testicles of the male dog are removed. It is often performed via a single incision just above the scrotum.

In some cases, one or both of the testicles have not descended as expected, these animals are referred to as cryptorchids. When it comes to desexing cryptorchids the surgery can become a little more complicated as the retained testicle often cannot be removed via the same incision as the normally descended testis. Sometimes these testicles are located in the groin and another small incision can be used to safely remove the retained testicle. Sometimes these testicles are still located within the abdomen in which case an abdominal incision will be required to remove the retained testicle.

At the Glen Iris Veterinary Hospital we do also have a keyhole alternative to abdominal cryptorchid castrations which is much less painful and significantly reduces the size of the wound. Please ask one of our vets for more information.


The term ‘spey’ is used to describe two different surgical procedures – ovariohysterectomy (OVH), where the uterus and the ovaries are removed, and ovariectomy (OVE) where only the ovaries are removed whilst the uterus remains intact. Traditionally, a spey involves an incision along your pet’s belly, and the removal of both ovaries and uterus (a complete ovariohysterectomy). Abdominal surgery can be painful and require periods of strict rest up to two weeks after the surgery, which can be exceptionally difficult to achieve when you have a young, happy and energetic animal.

There are also potential complications involving including infection and swelling of the surgical site, particular if the animal is too active after surgery. For these reasons, the Glen Iris and Armadale Veterinary Hospitals more commonly desex dogs via the keyhole (laparoscopic) desexing technique. We have desexed over a 1000 animals successfully this way and feel that the surgery compares favourably in almost every way to a traditional desexing. We are also now proud to offer cat owners the option of desexing their animals laparoscopically as well.

The Keyhole Spey

The Keyhole Spey (or Lap Spey) is the future of veterinary medicine.

The keyhole spey is performed using laparoscopic equipment, which drastically reduces the size of the incision needed for a spey procedure. This results in much less post-operative pain, faster recovery & fewer wound related complications.

Benefits of a Keyhole Spey

  • Significantly less pain post-operatively
  • Faster recovery from surgery
  • Less post-operative wound complications, particularly in active dogs/cats
  • All the organs in the abdomen can be examined during the procedure
  • Faster return to normal exercise & activity levels

The Keyhole spey is traditionally performed as an ovariectomy (where only the ovaries are removed) however it can also be a complete ovariohysterectomy (where the ovaries and uterus are removed). Our general recommendations are to perform an ovariectomy on animals which have not yet had a season and an ovariohysterectomy on dogs that have had a season.

At the moment, we are only offering ovariectomies to cat owners (not ovariohysterectomies). To find out more and to discuss which desexing procedure is right for your pet, please speak to one of our friendly vets.

What is the cost of desexing laparascopically?

Laparascopic ovariectomies cost an additional $400 to the regular desexing price. Laparoscopic ovariohysterectomies cost an additional $700 to the regular desexing price. The total cost will depend on the size of your animal and whether they have had a season yet or not. Please call our friendly reception team for an estimate for your pet.

Why should I desex my pet?

If you have no intent to breed from your animal, there are several very good reasons that you should get them desexed. We recommend desexing of all our patients to help minimize future health risk and complications that can result from leaving them entire.


  • Prevention of unwanted pregnancy
  • Population control
  • Reduction in the risk of mammary tumours
  • Female dogs who are speyed (desexed) before their first season (their first ‘period’) have a 1 in 200 chance of getting mammary (breast) cancer when they are older
  • Those who are allowed to have one season have a 1 in 12 risk of getting breast cancer in their later years
  • Having two seasons will mean that your pet’s chances of developing breast cancer later in life increase to 1 in 4.
  • Prevention of uterine diseases such a pyometra
  • Prevention of unwanted behaviours such as nesting & false pregnancies.


  • Population control
  • Promotes lower levels of aggression (towards people & other animals)
  • Results in less marking (urinating on things)
  • Results in less mounting behaviours
  • Desexed males have lower risk of cancers around the prostate, testicles & rectum
  • Desexed males display less straying behaviour (running away from home)

When should I desex my pet?


As discussed above, females that have been desexed prior to their first heat have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancers. For this reason, we recommend the desexing of female dogs before their first season, at around 5-6 months of age. If your female has already come into season then we would recommend desexing around 2-3 months after their season finishes as desexing too soon after a heat cycle is more dangerous. 

Female cats are recommended to be desexed between 4-5 months of age as they can come into season from 5 months of age.


For male dogs the timing of desexing is not as critical as with female dogs and there are many considerations to take into account including breed, size, behaviour, home environment and whether the dog is cryptorchid. Recommendations can vary from 5 – 18 months age. Please speak to one of our veterinarians about the best time to desex your male dog.

For male cats, desexing is best performed between 4-5 months of age.

How do I book?

Desexing (whether Keyhole or traditional) can be booked at either clinic. Please call the Glen Iris Veterinary Hospital on 98224952 and the Armadale Veterinary Hospital on 70378707 to make a booking.