As vets, we seem to be preoccupied with getting your animals neutered but this is with good reason! We see many issues associated with dogs being left entire. Below is a selection of what we see.
- Missing/wandering dogs – both male and female dogs will go to great lengths to escape from houses and gardens to find a mate.
- Mis-mating – when your female has escaped for a period of time, you will not know if she has mated, requiring a trip to the vets for the expensive hormone injection. If this is not given, it may be that you get a surprise pregnancy and then have to deal with and find homes for multiple puppies, or even deal with birthing complications and a costly caesarian.
- Dog aggression – bite wounds and injuries.
- Mammary cancers – very common in unspayed bitches, 50% are malignant. The earlier your bitch is spayed, the lower the chance of these cancers occurring.
- Pyometras – very common in unspayed older bitches. The uterus lining becomes more cystic with age, causing an environment great for bacterial infection. When the season comes, bacteria are introduced and the uterus fills up with a toxic infection fluid, causing a very sick dog which will then need to be spayed.
- Prostate disease, gland tumours, hernias are all more common in uncastrated old male dogs.
Disadvantages of neutering:
- Female incontinence – seen in some breeds more than others. Medium and large breed bitches spayed before their first season are particularly prone. The bladder seal muscles are stronger when oestrogen is around, medication can easily treat this but allowing your bitch to have a season will help prevent this from occurring.
- Male nervousness – it is thought that very nervous males can be made worse by being castrated too young, as their hormones are thought to give them a degree of confidence.
- Weight gain in both sexes. This is easily overcome by reducing the portion of food you give your dog, as the reproductive hormones will reduce their energy requirements.
- Coat changes – this is occasionally seen in breeds like springer spaniels or Irish setters
When should you get your dog neutered?
Bearing in mind all of the above, here are our recommendations for the best time to get your dog neutered:
Females: Small breed bitches can be spayed any time from 6 months of age, medium/large breed bitches should be spayed between their first and second seasons. 2-3 months after the season has finished is the best time.
Males: As early as 6 months of age for those dogs showing undesirable male behaviours (aggression, humping, cocking leg). In these cases the sooner the better or there is a chance of these becoming learned behaviours. For those dogs not showing these behaviours, any time before they become a higher anaesthetic risk (ie before 8 years old) is advised.
Neutering is a routine procedure performed under general anaesthesia and your dog will only need to stay with us for part of the day. They will be dropped off in the morning, having had no breakfast and then can go home between 3 and 6pm. They will need complete rest from exercise for 3 days, then lead only exercise for the following 7 days. They will also need to come back to us to check wound healing around 3 days and 10 days after the operation.