Neutering in Dogs

Neutering

Neutering is a surgical procedure also known as spaying for female dogs and castration for male dogs. Depending on breed and size, most male and female dogs will reach puberty between 6 and 23 months. We generally recommend neutering dogs from 6 months onward.

We strongly recommend that all bitches should be neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and potential health complications later in life.

Male dogs can be castrated at the owners request but we always recommend that you discuss this beforehand with one of our vets or nurses. Should we decide to go ahead with castration, it is ideal that this be done early on to potentially improve the dogs temperament and reduce the later development of unwanted behaviours.

Bitch Spay

Female dogs who have not been spayed usually have a season every 6 months. Seasons last roughly 3 weeks and it is during this time that a female dog may become pregnant. We generally advise that spaying be performed soon after 6 months, and prior to the first season. If your dog has already had a season, then we recommend that neutering be performed around 3 months after conclusion. This should be discussed with one of our vets in order to decide the best course for your dog.

What does Spaying Involve?

Spaying is a surgical procedure in which your dog’s ovaries and uterus are removed. It is a  routine operation that we perform daily at the practice, however it still involves major surgery and the risks should be taken seriously.

Spaying is performed as a day operation in the practice. Your dog will be pre-medicated with sedatives and pain killers, and then given a general anaesthetic. An incision will be made on your dog’s lower abdomen to perform the operation, which will be subsequently stitched.

After the operation, your dog will be cared for and monitored by one of our trained auxiliaries to ensure that they come around comfortably. At no time during their stay with us will your dog be left alone.

Once we are happy that your dog is recovering well, we will give you a phone to arrange a time for her to go home later that same day.  Once home, your dog should be kept calm and comfortable. Exercise should be restricted for at least 10 days, or as advised by the vet. The veterinary surgeon who performed the spay will advise on the best post-operative care following surgery and will provide you with 5 days of post-op pain relief. This is included in the full price of the Bitch Spay.

It is common practice for us to request that you bring your dog back to the practice 3 and 10 days following the surgery to have the wound checked by one our nurses. These follow-up appointments are standard procedure and free-of-charge.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Spaying my Dog?

We often get asked this question by concerned owners who’ve been exposed to varying, usually conflicting advice from books, friends and online sources. We would recommend that all female dog owners consider spaying as the advantages far outweigh the risks involved.

Advantages:

  • This procedure completely prevents unwanted pregnancies, as well as false pregnancies (more information on false pregnancies is provided below).
  • Removal of the ovaries and uterus completely prevents your dog from developing uterine and ovarian tumours.
  • Your dog is also prevented from developing serious uterine infections, such as Pyometra.
  • Spaying your dog has been found to significantly decrease the risk of tumours developing in the mammary glands. Research has found that the younger the operation is performed, the better they are protected from developing mammary tumours.
  • Bitches who have not been spayed will be victims of constant attention from male dogs in the neighbourhood when they do come into season.
  • Finally, when dogs come into season they, like humans, bleed regularly. If your dog is spayed, she will not come into season and you will not have to keep her on a lead and away from other dogs, use nappies or clean the blood stains around your home.

Disadvantages:

  • Spaying is an operation that involves general anaesthetic and major surgery, both of which can be a risk to your dog.
  • Weight gain can be an issue in spayed dogs, but this is easily controlled with diet and exercise.
  • Spaying your dog will alter their hormones, which can very occasionally result in an altered coat texture. Should this occur, you can discuss with your vet about possible remedying through diet and vitamin supplements.

Please talk to one of our vets if you would like more information on spaying your dog.

False Pregnancies

Also called Phantom Pregnancies, are a common condition in which the dog develops all the symptoms of pregnancy, such as lactation and nursing, without having been mated.

The symptoms usually appear around 2 months after your dog’s season ends, and can include: 

  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal enlargement
  • Nest making
  • Nursing soft toys
  • Mammary development
  • Lactation
  • Other behavioural changes

If your dog has not been spayed and develops these symptoms, please contact the practice for advice. False Pregnancies do not occur in dogs that have been spayed.

Castration

Similar to spaying, we often advise that castration, if required, be performed from the age of 6 months depending on breed, size and temperament. This should be discussed with one of our vets in order to decide what’s best for your dog.

What does Castration Involve?

Castration is a surgical procedure that involves complete removal of your dog’s testes. As with spaying, it is a fairly routine operation which still involves surgery and therefore, should not be taken lightly.

Castration is performed as a day operation at the practice. Your dog will be pre-medicated with sedatives and painkillers and then given a general anaesthetic. A small incision will be made midline from the underside of your dog, up to the scrotum in order to remove the testes. The incision will be subsequently stitched.

After the operation, your dog will be looked after and monitored by one of our trained auxiliaries to ensure that they come around comfortably. At no time during their stay with us will your dog be left alone.

Once we are happy that your dog is recovering well, we will give you a phone to arrange a time for them to go home later that same day.  Once home, your dog should be kept calm and comfortable. Exercise should be restricted for at least 10 days, or as advised by the vet. The veterinary surgeon who performed the castration will advise on the best post-operative care and stitch removal following surgery, and will also provide you with 5 days of post-op pain relief. This is included in the full price of the castration.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Castrating my Dog?

The key concern that many owners have about castration is that it will alter their dog’s personality. While this is partially true, there are also potential benefits to castration.

Advantages

  • Dogs who have not been castrated are sometimes prone to going missing and roaming the streets searching for female dogs in heat. Castration stops the production of testosterone and can help to reduce or eliminate these behaviours.
  • Castration completely prevents your dog from fathering unwanted pregnancies.
  • Some male dogs are naturally prone to dominant and aggressive behaviours. When castrated, your dogs testosterone levels will diminish, which can lead to a marked decrease in these kinds of behaviours.
  • Some male dogs also like to mark their territory by urinating around your home. Their drive to procreate can also make them prone to mounting behaviour. You might find that your dog takes an interest in everything; your sofa, your cushions and even you! Castration can help to reduce these behaviours by removing the testosterone that underpins them.
  • Complete removal of the testes will prevent the development of unwanted and potentially fatal disease such as testicular tumours. Removal of the testes also prevents the development of testosterone related diseases occurring later in life, such as perineal hernias, prostatic diseases and anal adenomas.

Disadvantages

  • Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that castration will solve developed problem behaviours. While these behaviours are primarily driven by testosterone, your dog may have already developed habits which can continue, despite them no longer producing this hormone. Some owners find that castration eliminates unwanted behaviours, whereas some find that they are still somewhat present and others report no change at all. Castrating dogs at a younger age is more likely to be beneficial, as younger dogs have not yet developed sufficient levels of testosterone to establish bad habits. However, even this is not fool proof and some dogs who are castrated at 6 months, continue to develop unwanted behaviours.
  • Weight gain can be an issue in castrated dogs, but this is easily controlled with diet and exercise.
  • Castration is an operation that involves anaesthetic, open surgery and the removal of organs, all of which carry a certain amount of risk.
  • As with spaying, castrating your dog will alter their hormones, which can on occasion result in a change in coat texture. Should this occur, you can discuss with your vet about possible remedying through diet and vitamin supplements.
  • If your dog is especially nervous, castration can make them worse due to the lack of testosterone. In such cases, it’s best to discuss castration with one of our veterinary surgeons.

If you have any questions or concerns about castration, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Further information

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