Why neuter my dog?
Neutering has unquestionable benefits, both in terms of animal behaviour and health.
Changes in sexual behaviour: About twice a year, when females come on heat, males and females are strongly attracted to each other and will show great ingenuity in finding ways to get together and mate. This behaviour is highly likely to lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Figures also show increased risk of straying and car traffic accidents at this time. Neutering a female dog stops her having seasons and so rules out the risk of her having a litter. Remember that some dogs can have over 10 puppies. As for castrated males, they will no longer be attracted by surrounding on-heat females and will tend to display less territorial urine marking.
Health benefits: Neutering successfully prevents sexual health conditions such as testicular, prostatic or ovarian tumours and ‘false pregnancies’. Neutering female dogs before puberty also prevents the development of mammary tumours, which are fatal in six percent of cases.
Neutering therefore has not only preventative, but also curative effects since it is the treatment of choice of some conditions such as pyometra (a uterine infection common in female dogs) and testicular tumours or prostatic hyperplasia (very common in older dogs). Finally, castrating male dogs generally reduce aggression towards other male dogs, reduce urine marking and mounting behaviours, and reduce straying. How do I get my dog neutered?
Your vet can advise you on neutering age, the procedure best suited to your dog and appropriate nutrition; please ask your clinic for more information. How are dogs neutered? Neutering/castration is a surgical procedure, carried out under general anaesthesia and aimed at preventing reproduction. It is an irreversible procedure. In males, castration consists of the removal of both testicles while in females, the operation consists of removing the ovaries and uterus (aka ovariohysterectomy).
When should my dog be neutered? If your purpose is to avoid reproductive health problems or stop reproductive behaviour, it is best to get your dog neutered relatively early, around the time of puberty. As the age of puberty is highly variable according to the size or the dog, your vet will be able to recommend the best time for the operation.
What are the necessary precautions?
Before the operation: Unless your vet instructs you otherwise, it is advisable to fast your dog for 12 to 18 hours before the operation. This time may be shorter for puppies. No specific preparation is required.
Back home: Put your dog in a quiet, dimly lit area, with clean bedding.
What if your dog refuses to eat? The anaesthetic and the hospitalisation can explain why your dog may not want to eat the next day. In female-dogs, the appetite can be disrupted for 48 hours due to the longer anaesthetic. If you have any concern, do not hesitate to contact your vet.
Living with neutering
Lifelong changes – The genital organs secrete certain hormones (estrogens, testosterone), so removing these organs inevitably causes hormonal modifications which can have repercussions on a number of functions:
- Obesity & regulation of food intake. Neutering can modify the dog’s feeding behaviour by increasing daily food intake. If not prevented, overeating will predispose your dog to obesity (neutered dogs have nearly double the risk of becoming obese compared to the overall canine population). Your vet will advise you on the best diet for your dog and the amounts to feed.
- Joint problems can arise as a direct consequence of animals being overweight, such as ruptured cruciate ligaments in the knees or hip dysplasia.
- Brain ageing is also more marked in castrated males than intact males.