Neutering a Male Dog - Procedure, Cost and Benefits
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There have been many campaigns over the years for spaying and neutering programs for dogs. It has reached the stage where there are laws in place in certain areas requiring the procedure for dogs unless they have a relevant exemption. The reasons for this are for the benefit of the individual dog, as well as larger canine populations. Despite this fact, many guardians choose not to neuter their dog. Reasons for doing so may be a desire to breed the dog, a lack of care or even an unfounded belief they would be doing the dog harm.
If you have a male dog and are considering whether to neuter them, it is very important you speak to your veterinarian who will give you the pertinent information both about neutering in your area and your dog's specific needs. For a general guideline, AnimalWised brings you everything you need to know about the procedure, cost and benefits of neutering your male dog.
What is neutering a male dog?
Although many of us will be aware of the basic concept of neutering a dog, there are many terms which can elicit some confusion. For example, we may think that neutering is sterilization, but this is not exactly the same. Sterilization is the process which stops the dog from reproducing. This is not always a permanent process. For example, there are drugs which can produce chemical sterilization, but once they are no longer taken, the dog is once again fertile.
Neutering is a form of sterilization, but it is permanent. This is because it involves the removal of a dog's sexual organs. In a female, this procedure is known as an ovariohysterectomy or spaying. During the procedure, the bitch's ovaries and uterus are removed. For male dogs, the neutering procedure is known as castration. This involves the removal of the dog's testicles and prevents the dog from producing sperm.
Some veterinarians may offer alternative procedures such as a vasectomy. This is the tying of the vas deferens which transport sperm from the testicles. This is not the same as neutering and it does not provide the same benefits since the testicles are still present. This is partly because the testicles will still produce hormones which can affect their behavior. Vasectomy is also not as effective a procedure as castration.
Neutering a male dog procedure
Many guardians see the onus of stopping reproductive ability to be only on the female dog. They will go into heat and can become pregnant, putting extra strain on our responsibility of care. Since the owners of male dogs often do not have to bear the responsibility of care for a pregnant bitch, many do not think neutering is necessary. This is not true.
Part of the reason is also a belief that a male dog will be harmed by undergoing a the neutering procedure. While it is a surgical intervention, it is also a very routine procedure with a very thin margin of error. This small risk is most often outweighed by the benefits castration will provide to the dog and guardian. We will look at these benefits in more detail below. Before we do, we can take a look the procedure of neutering a male dog:
- The dog is placed under general anesthesia. Local anesthesia is not appropriate as the dog will likely react badly and could cause themselves serious harm.
- The skin just in front of the scrotum is the surgical site which will be shaved and disinfected.
- An incision is made with a scalpel on the scrotum. The testicles will be removed one by one and their spermatic cords will be ligated.
- Incision site is stitched up, now often with synthetic monofilament absorbable sutures.
- The wound is cleaned and the dog is readied for postoperative care when they will revive from the anesthetic.
Before your dog goes through the procedure of neutering, your veterinarian will explain what is involved. If there are any issues with your dog being castrated, they will weigh up the benefits versus the risk of harm.
Castrating a dog: postoperative
In addition to detailing what you can expect from the neutering procedure, your vet should also relay their postoperative care needs. Fortunately, they are relatively straightforward.
Veterinarians commonly administer antibiotics as a form of preventive medicine for any potential bacterial infections around the incision site. They will also give analgesics to manage any pain and discomfort the dog might experience. However, these pain modifiers will not usually be prescribed for prolonged periods as the dog shouldn't be in acute pain.
Although some dogs will become subdued for a while after the procedure, most will leave the operating room and continue as normal. While this is good for the dog's morale, we need to be careful with the incision site. We should prevent strenuous exercise or manipulation of the incision site. This will also require an Elizabethan collar, a device which wraps around the dog's neck and prevents them from licking their stitches.
With proper care and preventive measures such as those explained above, it is very rare for complications of neutering a dog to occur. We should monitor them for any signs of infection or changes in behavior. It is now common to use absorbable sutures which will disappear on their own over time. If not, we will need to take the dog to the veterinarian for removal of the stitches and a postoperative checkup.
Look at the postoperative period in more detail with our article on what to expect after your dog is neutered.
Maximum age to neuter a dog
There is no maximum age to neuter a dog. Even if we adopt an adult dog, there are many benefits which neutering can provide. The only significant limit is the health of the dog. For example, we may not neuter an elderly dog because they have already lost much of their sex drive and going through the castration procedure would not provide significant benefit.
Before any male dog is neutered, the veterinarian will carry out an examination. This will ideally include a canine blood test and an electrocardiogram. This will help to assess the risk and benefits to the individual dog, but in most cases, the procedure will go ahead as normal.
In terms of the ideal age to neuter a dog, it will depend on the individual. Generally speaking, the best time to neuter a dog will be at approximately 8-9 months of age. The reason for this is because keeping the testicles intact will allow the production of gonadal hormones involved in the development of the musculoskeletal system. However, this may be a little earlier in smaller dogs and a little later in large dogs.
Whatever the size of dog, neutering should be carried out before they reach sexual maturity. Dogs neutered after they reach sexual maturity may be more likely to carry out certain behaviors such as mounting other male dogs, although it should reduce this behavior significantly.
Benefits of neutering a dog
The main purpose of castrating a male dog is to prevent their reproductive capability. In carrying out the neutering procedure, we will also provide certain benefits to the dog, the guardian and the dog community as a whole. The following are important benefits of neutering a male dog:
- Unwanted pregnancy: if a dog is neutered, we do not have to worry about them impregnating another dog. Not only will this prevent problems related to the guardian of the female dog, but it will reduce the burden of overpopulation in shelter systems. There are not enough guardians to look after the amount of dogs currently in need and neutering will help to reduce the pressure on these organizations. This will also indirectly prevent euthanasia of many dogs.
- Unwanted behaviors: a neutered male dog should not be interested in copulation, so they will not want to chase female dogs, nor will they compete with other males for this purpose. The sexual drive of some dogs can also result in aggression, so it can reduce the possibility of a dog suddenly becoming aggressive.
- Territorial marking: non-neutered dogs will also often mark with urine when they want to attract a female. This prevents this nuisance behavior inside the home.
- Escapism: the sexual drive in many male dogs can lead them to want to escape their home in search of a female. Many dogs can become lost in their attempt, often being taken into shelter systems or worse.
- Health benefits: removal of the testicles means they will various pathological problems such as testicular and perianal tumors, prostate hyperplasia, as well as prostatitis or prostatic cysts. The reduction in production of certain hormones will also help prevent various health issues and generally extend the life expectancy of the dog.
Neutering a dog does not mean they will not have any health problems, but it can significantly improve their prospects. There are some potential disadvantages in terms of health. There is a potential risk of certain tumors for which the hormones produced by the testicles would normally have offered some protection. However, this is outweighed by the prevention of other tumors if the testicles remained.
There are some suggestions that neutered dogs are more likely to get certain cancers. This is often because neutered dogs live longer and older dogs are more prone to cancer development.
Cost of neutering a male dog
There is no set price for neutering male dogs. The cost of the neutering procedure will depend on various factors, particularly the country in which you live and the specific clinic you choose to have the surgery carried out. In the United States, the cost of neutering a male dog can range anywhere between $100 to $600. In the United Kingdom, the cost is usually around £100 to £300.
Since most countries do not have centralized guidelines for the costs of spaying and neutering pets, the price will usually depend on the clinic. Some may charge more for a more elaborate procedure or simply because they have a good reputation.
There are often cheaper ways to neuter a male dog. Since many animal welfare organizations promote spaying and neutering your pets, there are often drives and programs which will offer help to carry out the procedure. This may be a free or minimum-pay service. Speak to your local animal authority for more information about possible programs in your area.
Should you neuter an aggressive male dog?
Finally, castration is very often recommended for dogs that display aggressive behavior. This is particularly the case when the behavior is related to heat. In these cases, the dog many defend their territory or attack rivals. Castration can eliminate or reduce these behaviors. If the dog is older and has displaying aggressiveness for years, castration may not achieve total control.
In addition, a dog will remain aggressive after neutering if the aggressiveness is due to other causes. We recommend castration for many reasons, but if our intention is to make aggressive behaviors disappear, we must first consult with an ethologist or a canine behavior specialist. They will determine the underlying cause of the aggression and implement practical ways to prevent it occurring in the future.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Neutering a Male Dog - Procedure, Cost and Benefits, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.
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