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The latest small animal neutering complication rates have been released, alongside the first ever benchmarks for rabbit neutering, on RCVS Knowledge’s vetAUDIT website.

The baseline figures for spays and castrations in dogs and cats are remarkably similar to last year’s benchmarks, indicating neither improvement nor deterioration in treatment quality across the practices included in the audit. Rabbit data has been recorded for the first time, although the small sample size places limits on the inference that can be taken from the numbers.

In total, just under 40,000 cases were included in the data. Standout benchmarks include:
  • More than 15% of animals suffered an abnormality related to the operation, with around half of these requiring medical treatment or surgical intervention.
  • 75% of neuters were complication-free.
  • In cats and dogs, spays suffered a higher incidence of complications than castrates. However, the reverse was seen in rabbits.
  • Spayed and castrated cats suffered fewer complications than dogs.
  • In dog spays, at least 25% of operations resulted in some form of complication (including fatality).
  • More than 95% of castrated cats suffered no abnormality.
  • Thirty-five animals died as a result of a neutering procedure, including one rabbit.
  • Over 3,000 cases were lost to follow-up.

Pam Mosedale, Chair of the Quality Improvement Advisory Board at RCVS Knowledge, said:

“These benchmarks are of importance to all small animal practices and offer invaluable insight into the current levels of patient safety associated with routine neutering procedures.

“We are pleased to have been able to incorporate rabbit data into this year’s benchmarks, broadening the scope of the audit.

“We are also heartened to see a 10% increase in data submitted to the audit in 2019, which not only makes the national benchmarks more accurate, but demonstrates the growing importance the professions are placing on quality improvement methods.”

Practices can anonymously submit their data to the audit and compare their figures to the national benchmarks. To do so, simply follow the instructions for the National Audit for Small Animal Neutering (NASAN) on the vetAUDIT website:

Practices can also carry out their own audits and produce internal benchmarks, guidelines and checklists to help monitor their progress and help drive down complication rates by using the free resources on the RCVS Knowledge website: