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Neutering Dogs

Neutering male and female dogs has many advantages, apart from the obvious one of preventing unwanted litters of pups.

Females

Spaying should always be considered if you are keeping your bitch as a pet.  If you don’t plan to breed from your bitch then spaying is the responsible thing to do.  As well as preventing unwanted litters, neutering reduces the risk of a number of health problems. 

Advantages of spaying a bitch:

  • It prevents the bitch coming into season and therefore she will not bleed for up to three weeks every six months.
  • It prevents unwanted pregnancies.
  • When in season the bitch has an urge to escape in order to find a mate-this is prevented by spaying.
  • It eliminates the possibility of false pregnancy following a season.  This is when some bitches seem unwell, start nest building, may seem aggressive and produce milk.
  • It prevents infection of the womb (pyometra).
  • If spayed before maturity, the chances of developing mammary cancer are reduced greatly.

Sometimes the operation is carried out for medical reasons.  These may include:

  • Treatment of intractable phantom pregnancy (false pregnancy).
  • Bitches with irregular or abnormal cycles due to ovarian cysts.
  • Spaying is also carried out on occasions to correct certain behavioural problems.
  • Spaying helps in the stabilisation of diabetes.

Disadvantages of spaying a bitch:

We often hear from clients that they are concerned that once their bitch is spayed that she will become fat, lose character and be useless as a guard dog.

Spaying can, in a few cases, slow the metabolism so she may become prone to weight gain.  Feeding a correct diet, without excessive titbits should adequately control obesity, as it does with other animals.

A second disadvantage of neutering in some bitches is the predisposition to incontinence.  Certain breeds of dog may be predisposed to incontinence and spaying may exacerbate this in these individuals. 

She will not become characterless.  Guarding ability, intelligence, playfulness and affection are not significantly altered by spaying. 

When should the operation be carried out?

We recommend that your bitch is spayed ideally before her first season. Alternatively, spaying can be done one to three months after her season.   This is when the hormone levels and blood supply to the uterus have returned to normal.  The timing of spaying is dependent upon the breed and its behavioural development; hence this should be discussed with your vet.

What does the procedure involve?

Your bitch will have a pre-operative health check with the vet, either on the day of the surgery or before.  She will be weighed and given a pre-med injection.  This will relax her so that she is ready for the general anaesthetic.  A painkiller is also given before surgery so that she will be comfortable on recovery.  The vet will then undertake abdominal surgery to remove her uterus and both ovaries.  The abdominal muscles and skin are stitched and she is taken back to the ward to recover.  The ward nurse will monitor her recovery and administer any further painkillers if required.  Once your bitch has recovered sufficiently she may go home.  This is usually on the same day.

What about after the operation?

You will be given special care instructions when you collect your dog after her operation. It is very important that she is not allowed out of the house for 10 days unless she is on a lead.

Males

Castration helps to prevent unacceptable sexual behaviour, reducing aggressiveness and preventing accidental breeding. 

How does castrating affect behaviour?

The behaviours that will be affected by castration are those that are under the influence of the male hormones.  A dog’s temperament, training, personality and ability to work are a result of good genetic factors as well as its upbringing, not just the male hormones.  Castration doesn’t calm an excitable dog. There is a tendency to gain weight after castration, but with good dietary management, regular exercise and close observation of weight there is no reason for him to become overweight and lazy.

What is castration?

Castration is the surgical removal of the testes.  The procedure involves a general anaesthetic so your dog will need to come into the surgery as a day patient.  He will be given a pre-medication and pain-killer injection before the operation.  This will calm him and ensure a smooth, pain-free recovery.  Both testes are removed through a single incision in front of the scrotum.

Will his behaviour be affected?

Only those behaviours that are driven by the male hormones can be reduced or eliminated by castration: 

  • Undesirable sexual behaviour-Attraction to females, escaping from the garden, roaming and mounting can be reduced or eliminated by castrating.
  • Urine marking-Some adult dogs lift their legs while urinating depending on how confident they are with other dogs.  Instead of emptying their whole bladder at one time they retain some urine to deposit on vertical objects.  This is scent marking-they mark their scent at nose height for other dogs.  Some male dogs have such a strong desire to mark that they will mark indoors.  Castration should reduce marking.
  • Aggression-neutering will prevent reproduction and passing on any genetic tendency towards aggression.  Castration may also reduce or eliminate the forms of aggression that are influenced by male hormones such as fighting with other male dogs.

Are there any additional benefits to castration?

Medical benefits:

  • Castration eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer.
  • It greatly reduces the chances of prostrate disease.
  • It can reduce the risk of perianal tumours and perineal hernias.

Population Control

  • Perhaps the most important issue is that numerous dogs are euthanized annually at animal shelters.  Castration is just as important as spaying females when it comes to population control.

When should my dog be castrated?

The age at which castration is performed is highly variable and dependent on many factors including breed and behavioural maturity.  To castrate a dog both testes should have dropped into the scrotum (if the testes have not dropped, you should seek veterinary advice).  There is no upper age for castration.

If you are considering castrating your dog due to behavioural problems, please contact your vet, who can advise if the operation is likely to help or make the problem worse.  Castration will change the relationship with other dogs in the household so do get help beforehand.

 


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