Birth Control and Breeding
Whatever pet that you have, you must consider the awkward topic of the birth control and breeding, most especially if you have a female pet.
A bitch will normally have their first season between 5 and 9 months of age - unless you have a giant breed where the first season is usually much later. It is important that we discuss the options as soon as you bring your puppy in for her very first check up to avoid any unexpected surprises! Unless you plan to allow your bitch to have a litter of pups then we would recommend surgical neutering before their first season.
If you would like your bitch to have a litter at some point in the future but aren’t quite ready yet we can avoid an awkward 3 weeks twice each year by giving her a hormone injection every 6 months to supress the seasons. When you want her to breed then just ignore our reminder and she’ll come into season!
We can also neuter a male dog, although we only usually perform this procedure for behavioural reasons. Unpleasant habits or difficult to manage behaviour can include roaming, barking, aggression, weeing in the house and excessive sexual activities. Castrating a male dog will reduce and resolve these problems.
If you want to breed from your dog we can advise you on that too and make sure your dog is in good health before she becomes pregnant. Her season will usually last for about 3 weeks and she will be pregnant for about 9 weeks. Litter size will vary but small breeds usually have between 2 and 4 pups and large breeds between 8 and 12 pups. Usually a bitch will manage to give birth naturally but if you are at all worried give us a call. If necessary we can perform a caesarean section.
Once the puppies are born be prepared for a lot of fun. Puppies’ eyes open at about 2 weeks and weaning is from 5/6 weeks. Call us for advice if you’re worried about mum or any puppies are failing to thrive.
What should I do if I think that my dog has been mated accidentally?
If your bitch is accidently mis-mated, then we can inject her with a series of two hormone injections given on subsequent days a few days after the mis-mate to prevent the pregnancy.
Female cats (queens) will normally have their first season when they are about 5-6 months old, so it is important that we consider the options as soon as your kitten has her first check up. We will normally recommend that she is surgically neutered at around 4 to 5 months if you don’t want her to have kittens of her own.
A season is called “calling” as the female cat cries to attract male tom cats in order to mate. This can be very disconcerting if you are not prepared for it! The call of the queen usually lasts for 3-4 days, unless the queen has been mated. Your cat will then fall out-of-season for about 10 days before another season starts. This usually goes on for about 4-6 seasons until the cat becomes pregnant or the season stops. This cycle is then repeated every six months.
Pregnancy lasts for about 9 weeks. Litter size varies with age with older queens typically having larger litters. A kitten’s eyes open at about 2 weeks and weaning is at 5/6 weeks. Kittens are extremely energetic so be prepared for some antics!
Call us for advice if you’re worried about mum or if any of the kittens are failing to thrive.
Male tom cats will start to hunt for females to mate with from the age of about 6 months. They also will start to wee in the house to mark their territory. We recommend that all tom cats are castrated before this age unless intended for breeding.
We recommend that both male and female rabbits are surgically neutered for behavioural reasons as un-neutered rabbits can be aggressive to both humans and to other bunnies in the group. Rabbits become sexually active at the age of 16 weeks and the females are pregnant for 4 weeks. The normal litter size is about 6 and kits will wean at 6 weeks.
We recommend that all of the small furries - rats, mice, hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs, degus, gerbils, duprasis, chipmunks - are kept in separate colonies of males/females or are surgically neutered according to their species recommendation. The individual details are as follows...
|Pet||Puberty||Pregnancy||Litter size||Eyes open||Weaning|
|Rats||4 weeks||3 weeks||6-13||12 days||21 days|
|Mice||6 weeks||3 weeks||7-12||12 days||18 days|
|Hamsters||8 weeks||2-4 weeks||5-10||12 days||21 days|
|Chinchillas||6 months||14 weeks||2-6||at birth||few days|
|Guinea pigs||3 months||8-10 weeks||2-5||at birth||few days|
|Degus||6 months||12 weeks||5-6||at birth||few days|
|Gerbils||3 months||3-6 weeks||3-6||21 days||28 days|
|Duprasis||3 months||3 weeks||3-5||16 days||21 days|
|Chipmunks||1 year||4-5 weeks||3-5||5 weeks||6 weeks|
Male ferrets are called “hobs” and female ferrets are called “jills”. Puberty starts at the first spring after birth and pregnancy lasts 6 weeks. The normal litter size is 6-8 and the eyes will open at 4/5 weeks; weaning is by 8 weeks.
Many clients do not know the sex of their bird, although often the male bird is more highly coloured than the female bird. They may even be shaped slightly differently or have additional body parts to easily show another bird that they are male/female.
Some species can be easily sexed...
- Budgies - male birds have a blue cere (the area above the beak) and females have a brown cere.
- Cockatoos - the males have a blue iris and the females a brown iris.
- Canaries - usually only the male bird sings!
There are two other ways of determining the sex of your pet bird - surgical sexing and DNA testing. Surgical sexing involves examining the bird’s internal sex organs under a general anaesthetic. DNA testing involves taking a drop of blood from over-clipping a nail or some feathers and then getting the lab to examine the DNA.
Egg hatching times will vary according to the species.
Often the different sexes of particular breeds will be shaped or coloured differently. In some larger fish, gently squeezing the abdomen will express either milt or eggs - this must be done very cautiously.