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 set home with pain relief, the wound is normally totally healed by 14 days after the procedure.
We are passionate about making sure your pet gets the best possible care and there are lots of reasons why we recommend castration.
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 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 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.
If your pet is castrated early it can also help eliminate certain unwanted behaviours like humping. Castration can also help reduce some forms of aggressive behaviour.
However, behavioural problems can be complicated and caused by multiple factors, so if your dog already has behavioural issues it is best to speak to us 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.
We recommend to castrate most dogs at 6 months of age. However, we can castrate dogs at any age. We think it is vital to stay right up to date with current views in veterinary medicine and recent studies have suggested that with certain larger breeds it is better to wait until they are over twelve months to do the procedure. Rottweilers, for example, we would recommend to castrate at over a year.
Spay - what, why and when?
A bitch spay is also a surgical procedure that we do 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 procedure involves removing the whole of their reproductive tract from their ovaries down to their cervix. We want to do what we can to make sure they are super comfortable so we send your pet home with plenty of pain relief and they need to be strictly rested for a few days, then have reduced exercise for 2 weeks after the operation. After this they are normally back to their normal bouncy selves and can return to normal exercise.
As with castrations there are a number of reasons why we recommend to spay your dog.
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!
There are also health reasons that we recommend spaying you dog. 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 procedure is more complicated. All of these factors means that their risk of having a problem while under an anaesthetic is much higher. Neutering your pet prevents them from being able to develop a pyometra.
Mammary cancers in dogs can be very aggressive and spread rapidly to other organs in the body (especially their lungs, leading to secondary lung cancer.) 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 dramatically reduces their chances of having a nasty mammary cancer, only 0.05% of dogs that are spayed before they have a season develop the type of mammary cancers that are very dangerous and can spread rapidly to other areas of the body.
Because of these health factors we recommend to neuter female dogs at 6 months of age, hopefully before they have their first season. However, some puppies will come into season earlier than we expect and we then need to wait until three months after that season. We can spay an adult dog at any age, but we always try to do it between seasons. Most dogs are in heat every six months, so we aim to neuter them three months after their last season.
We all feel that neutering your pet is normally the best thing for them. So if you would like any more information or to discuss anything with us feel free to pop in or give us a call!