Latest NewsPractice

Over 4 million pets at risk of deadly conditions

4.4 million pets are at risk of deadly conditions as they remain unneutered, according to new research from PDSA.

Vet charity PDSA today warned many much-loved family pets’ lives are at risk, as nearly three million dogs, 770,000 cats and 720,000 rabbits* are unneutered, leaving them susceptible to various dangerous conditions such as womb infections and cancers.

To coincide with World Spay Day (28 February) the charity’s vets are urging owners to get their pets neutered – a potentially life-saving, simple procedure that can help pets live longer, healthier lives.

The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report**, produced in conjunction with YouGov, has revealed why pets aren’t being neutered. The main reason given by owners was ‘Haven’t thought about it’ (22 per cent), followed by ‘Don’t believe in it’ (16 per cent) and ‘Not got round to it’ (14 per cent).


PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman, said: “Sadly, vet practices across the UK see the devastating consequences of leaving pets unneutered all too often. Many cancers can be prevented by neutering, as can horrendous life-threatening conditions such as womb infections.

“As well as avoiding unwanted litters, neutering can have many health benefits for your pet. It’s best not to delay – health problems in unneutered pets are more likely as they get older. We all love our pets, so it’s important to prevent potential problems arising when we can. I’d highly recommend owners speak to their vet to avoid future heartache.”

Pet neutering levels vary considerably across the UK, with the North East seeing the highest levels of unneutered pets – 1 in 4 pets (26 per cent) – compared to 16 per cent of pets in the South East.

Myths and misconceptions may also be partly to blame for some owners choosing against neutering their pets, as Rebecca explains:

“As a vet, I’ve heard many reasons why people are reluctant to have their pets neutered, ranging from worrying it will emasculate their pets, to concern about denying a pet’s parental rights. The reality is that animals don’t experience emotions in the same way we do. There’s no evidence to suggest there is an emotional cost to animals when they don’t have a litter. If owners have concerns about their pet having an anaesthetic and surgery, their vet or vet nurse will be able to put their minds at rest.

“There is also a fear that neutering will change your pet’s personality. Again, this a common misconception: neutering can reduce testosterone-fuelled behaviours – such as aggression – but this is not the same as changing their nature, which is shaped by genetics and life experiences. If owners have any questions, I’d always recommend they speak to their vet, who can give them specific advice for their pet and address any concerns.”

For more advice from PDSA about neutering, visit

*11 million is the estimated UK cat population, 9.4m = dog population and 1.5m = rabbit population, reported in the PAW Report 2016. 31% of dogs, 7% of cats and 48% of rabbits are unneutered.
*Source: PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2016: The total sample size was 4,252 owners of cats, dogs and rabbits aged 18+ who live within the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6 and 30 June 2016. The survey was carried out online via YouGov’s online research panel. The figures have been weighted to be representative of the population by pet species and the owner’s gender, age and geographic region.


Back to top button