neutering your dog
What is neutering?
Neutering is the term we use to describe the surgical procedure we carry out to stop your pets from being able to have puppies.
Another word used when talking about neutering your male dog is 'castration'. We also talk about neutering female dogs using the word 'spay'.
Castration - what, why and when?
Castration is a surgical procedure that we perform very regularly. It requires a sterile environment so must be done in our operating theatre and is performed under a general anaesthetic. Whilst under general anaesthetic we position your dog on their back so we can shave and clean the area just in front of their scrotum. We make a surgical incision in the skin in front of the scrotum and remove both testicles. Your pet is then sent home with pain relief, the wound is normally totally healed by 14 days after the procedure.
Why do we castrate dogs?
1. To stop unwanted puppies
Castrating your pet means that they will not be able to make puppies and so stops accidental pregnancies. Male dogs will go to great lengths to get to female dogs if they are in season, and we have known pets that chew or claw through doors and dig under or jump over fences! In the UK it is estimated that over 47 000 dogs are abandoned by their owners each year. This means that there are thousands of dogs and puppies looking for homes in rescue centres that could be re-homed by people that would have otherwise taken a puppy from an accidental mating.
2. Help to reduce certain behavioural problems
It is very common for non-castrated male dogs to run off in search of a female friend. A red blooded male dog can smell a female in season up to three miles away! Castrating them means they are less likely to run off, get lost and go missing.
However, behavioural problems can be complicated and caused by multiple factors, so if your dog already has behavioural issues (i.e is nervous, aggressive, anxious) it is best to speak to your vet in detail before castrating them.
If you castrate your dog it totally removes the chance of them getting testicular cancers. It also dramatically reduced the chance of them developing prostate disease, which can be really serious and extremely painful.
When should we castrate dogs?
We think it is vital to stay right up to date with current views in veterinary medicine, historically vets recommend to castrate all dogs at 6 months of age. Recent studies have suggested that castration may increase the risk of certain conditions if performed when the dog is below a certain age. We recommend an in depth discussion about the pros and cons, and recommended timing of castration for every dog. Your pet and you are individuals, and we feel strongly that every consult with us is tailored specifically to you both!
Spay - what, why and when?
What is involved in a spay!
A bitch spay is a surgical procedure that we perform in our sterile operating theatre. While under general anaesthetic your pet is positioned on their back and their whole tummy is shaved and cleaned. A surgical cut is then made into their abdomen and the female reproductive organs removed. We want to make sure your pet is super comfortable afterwards so we send them home with plenty of pain relief, and they need to be strictly rested for two weeks after the operation. After this they are normally back to their normal bouncy selves and can return to normal exercise.
Why do we spay dogs?
1. To stop unwanted puppies
Obviously spaying your dog is really important to remove the risk of unwanted pregnancies, and remove the annoyance of all that unwanted attention from male dogs!
Two of our major health concerns for un-neutered female dogs are pyometras and mammary cancers.
A pyometra is a life threatening infection in the womb of your dog. The only successful cure for this is to remove their womb under a general anaesthetic (in the same way that we do when they are spayed). However, this infection normally happens when they are older, and it makes your pet critically ill. Their womb is full of infection and pus and so the surgical procedure is much more difficult. This means that their risk of having a problem while under anaesthetic with a pyometra is very high. Neutering your pet prevents them from being able to develop a pyometra.
Mammary cancers in dogs can be aggressive and spread rapidly to other organs in the body (especially their lungs, leading to secondary lung cancer.) One study suggests that over 25% of un-neutered dogs will develop mammary cancers in their lifetime. Although neutering does not mean that your dog will never develop mammary cancers it is suggested that it can dramatically reduce their chances of having a nasty mammary tumour. The same study found that only 0.05% of dogs that were spayed before they had a season developed the type of mammary cancers that can spread rapidly to other areas of the body.
When should we spay dogs?
As with male dogs there has been a recent increase in scientific studies published trying to determine the best time to neuter female dogs. In the past vets would discuss with you the pros and cons of neutering before or after their first season. We now know that certain diseases may be more likely if we spay your dog before a certain age. So we now tailor the conversation to you and your pet. We recommend a consult to discuss this in detail before you make a decision about timing. Although we can spay a dog at any age, and will either recommend that it is before a first season, or between seasons. Most dogs are in heat every six months, so we aim to neuter them three months after their last season.
Whatever age you decide to neuter your pet, we strongly recommend that they have had a preventative treatment for lungworm within one month of the surgery. Lungworm can cause problems with bleeding and so we want to make sure there is as little chance of an issue with this as possible before the procedure.