It can be hard to decide whether or not to neuter your dog. Here are the facts about neutering to help you understand the procedure and to help you make an informed decision.
Castration is the removal of the testicles. It is carried out to prevent unwanted breeding and for behavioural reasons. The best effects are seen if a dog is castrated at an early age. Our practice policy is to castrate dogs at 6 months of age (6-9 months with large breeds).
There are many health and behavioural reasons to have your dog castrated. These include:
- prevention of unwanted behaviour such as territory marking
- reduction in roaming/seeking out a mate
- reduced aggression
- reduced destructiveness
- prevention of excessive libido
- prevention of prostate problems (infections, cysts and cancer)
- reduced risk of anal adenomas (growths around the anus)
- prevention of testicular cancer.
Sometimes males can have one or both testicles retained (cryptorchidism). Usually one testicle is within the scrotum and the other is retained within the abdomen. It is advisable to castrate dogs with retained testicles because they have a high risk of developing cancer. The condition is usually inherited so we do not recommend breeding from an animal with a retained testicle.
The procedure is often referred to as spaying or ovariohysterectomy. It is the surgical removal of both ovaries and the uterus to the level of the cervix. Spaying should be considered in all bitches not required for breeding.
Bitches which are not neutered frequently suffer from:
- unwanted pregnancies
- mammary tumours
- false pregnancies
- pyometra (uterine infection)
- heavy or prolonged seasons
- unsociable behaviour during seasons.
All of these can be prevented by neutering at an early age.
The main disadvantage of spaying is that there is a tendency to put on weight – this is easily controlled with the correct dietary management. There is a small chance of spayed bitches developing urinary incontinence, a readily treatable condition. Rarely there are changes in coat texture after spaying.
Our practice policy is to perform the procedure at 6 months of age (6-9 months in giant breeds) as it is surgically easier and recovery is more rapid in young animals.
Some vets will advise letting the bitch have one season before spaying but our practice policy is to spay before the first season. There is no evidence to suggest that there are any advantages in letting them have a season and you are increasing the chances of unwanted pregnancy, false pregnancy and mammary tumours by doing so.
Ideally, spaying should not be performed during oestrus (when on heat/in season) or during a false pregnancy. If a bitch has had a season, the best time to carry out the operation is eight weeks or longer after the season has ended.
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