Spring Lodge Veterinary Group in Essex | 24hr Emergency Service

The Importance of Neutering Your Dog

CASTRATING YOUR DOG

Castration is the removal of the testicles. The operation is a one off procedure and is not reversible. Once your dog has been castrated he will never be able to father puppies. The normal dog has two testicles situated in the scrotal sac. It is not uncommon, however, for one or both testicles to fail to migrate down into the sac during early life.

This is known as Cryptorchism. Sometimes, the testicle can be felt in the groin, in other individuals the testicle(s) cannot be palpated as it is or they are fully within the abdomen

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES

Dogs are castrated for a variety of reasons.

For many owners the fact that he will not be able to father a litter of potentially unwanted puppies is the main reason for castration.

Reduction of dominance related behaviour.

Many entire dogs cause problems through being overly dominant in the family hierarchy.  This behaviour cannot only be a result of hormones but through a lack of training.  Castrate can assist with reducing unwanted behaviour but it is not guaranteed.

Reduction in vagrancy.

Some entire dogs have a tendency to wander and become a nuisance to neighbours, especially if there is a local bitch in heat. As the owner you are responsible for the actions of your dog and this could involve, for example, paying compensation should your pet cause a traffic accident.

Some entire dogs become very disturbed by local bitches in season and although they might not have the opportunity to wander, they can be a problem with howling at night and going off their food.

Reduction in excesses of sex linked behaviour.

Many entire dogs can become a nuisance and embarrassment with excessive mounting behaviour.  Whilst many grow out of the behaviour as they mature and others are trained out of it by their owners, some are left mounting family members, visitors and furniture. Castration usually reduces this problem to a minimum.  This behaviour can also be due to excess energy and overexcitement, it is vital a dog has a good exercise regime and plenty of mental stimulation.

Prevention and treatment of testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer is far from rare in the older dog and is the main reason why we examine the testicles of your dog during a normal examination, for example at the time of the annual vaccination. When the testicles are in the scrotum, we can feel the vast majority of tumours without difficulty and we would recommend castration be done fairly quickly. Fortunately most forms of testicular cancer if diagnosed early are not life threatening and surgery is usually curative.

Where we do have problems is in Cryptorchid dogs. It is thought that there is a higher incidence of cancer in the retained testicle which does not make it down into the scrotum. When in the groin, we can usually feel if there are any problems. An abdominal testicle, however, would have to be greatly enlarged before it could be felt.  If your dog is Cryptorchid, we shall discuss this with you.

Castration can also prevent and treat male hormone-linked diseases.

Certain anal tumours, perineal hernias (hernias around the anus) and prostatic enlargement can be helped or prevented by castration. If we do discover that your dog is suffering from any of these conditions, we shall discuss this with you.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?

Castration, although a routine procedure for small animal veterinary surgeons, is a theatre procedure, involving a general anaesthetic. A small number of animals have problems with anaesthetics, the operation itself and with post operative bleeding. This can result from too much activity, dislodging one of the internal blood vessel ties. Good nursing help and careful supervision does reduce the risk but that risk cannot be totally eliminated.

There are a higher proportion of overweight castrated dogs compared to their entire counterparts. There is no doubt that a castrated dog requires less food for a given weight and activity level. We suggest reducing the amount fed by 10-15% approx.

4 weeks prior to surgery.  It is easier to increase the food for dogs that lose a little weight than to diet those who have become overweight. We encourage regular weight checking and to weigh your dog at each annual vaccination so that fine tuning of food intake can be made. With proper management, there is no reason for any weight gain as a result of castration.

Some owners feel that the coat of some of the longer haired breeds can become excessively ‘woolly’ after castration. Whether this is a genuine phenomenon, or simply normal coat changes associated with ageing, is not clear.

When should I castrate my dog?

Castration can be performed from 6 months of age.  Smaller breeds of dog tend to carry out a majority of their development within the first 6 months so commonly a Vet will advise to book them in at this age.  Larger breeds can take up to 15 months to develop which may result in the Vet advising them to be slightly older when castrated.

We are always ready to discuss your individual requirements and feelings, to decide what is best for your dog.

For further information and advice please contact the surgery on: 01376 513247

SPAYING YOUR DOG

The technical name for a bitch spay is an ovariohysterectomy, which means the removal of the ovaries and uterus. You will, more commonly, hear people saying that their bitch has been spayed, neutered or dressed.

The operation is a one off procedure and is not reversible. Once your bitch has been spayed she will never be able to have puppies.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES

The main advantage is that your bitch will not come into season every six months. This will save you any mess associated with the season and will stop the persistent amorous advances of the neighbourhood male dogs allowing you to exercise your pet freely, all year round, without running the risk of her getting pregnant and producing unwanted puppies.

Another advantage is a reduction in the incidence and severity of mammary tumours.

Mammary tumours or breast cancer is very common in the un-spayed older bitch and early spaying drastically reduces the risk. Mammary tumours (breast cancer) are almost never seen in bitches spayed before the first season. The risk is thought to be reduced by over 90% in bitches spayed between the first and second season. As time progresses the advantages decrease.

However, even in bitches spayed late, there does seem to be reduction in the malignancy of any tumours which do occur and often we recommend spaying if mammary tumours develop in older bitches to remove the “hormonal drive” that makes the tumours increase in size and malignancy.

Prevention of Pyometra is another major benefit of spaying. Pyometra is an infection of the uterus which occurs in later life, characterised by the filling of the uterus with pus and a bitch that rapidly becomes unwell.

Generally they start with excessive drinking and urination and go on to show profound depression and inappetence often as a result of liver and kidney damage. If this condition is not recognised and treated promptly they will develop septic shock which will result in death.

Fortunately a high proportion of Pyometra cases receive the correct diagnosis and surgery in time, to remove the infected uterus but the surgery is longer, more dangerous and the recovery time slower. A few are presented too late or are too frail to survive surgery and as a result die from the condition.

Ovarian Cancer is a relatively uncommon, but potentially fatal disease that is prevented by spaying.

Sometimes bitches are spayed to ‘settle their temperament’. It is a difficult subject to quantify, but some highly strung bitches do seem to improve after the operation.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES

Spaying, although a routine procedure for small animal veterinary surgeons, is a major operation and involves entry into the abdomen cavity. A small number of animals have problems with anaesthetics, the operation itself and with postoperative bleeding.

This can result from too much activity, dislodging one of the internal blood vessel ties. Good nursing helps and careful supervision does reduce the risk but that risk cannot be totally eliminated.

Another disadvantage is that there is an increased risk of urinary incontinence in spayed bitches compared to their entire counterpart. This is not particularly common and usually responds to diet and medicines and occasionally surgery.

There are a higher proportion of overweight spayed bitches compared to their entire counterparts. There is no doubt that a spayed bitch requires less food for a given weight and activity level.

We suggest reducing the amount fed by 10-15% approximately 4 weeks prior to surgery. It is easier to increase the food for bitches that lose a little weight than to diet those who have become overweight.

We encourage weight checking and weigh your dog at each annual vaccination so that fine tuning of food intake can be made. With proper management, there is no reason for any weight gain as a result of spaying.

Where bitches are spayed before their first season, the vulva can remain very small. As the rest of the body increases in season, the vulva can occasionally become partially hidden behind a fold of skin, which can lead to urine spraying onto the legs. This can be corrected by weight reduction and sometimes surgery.

Some owners feel that the coat of some of the longer haired breeds can become excessively ‘woolly’ after spaying. Whether this is a genuine phenomenon, or simply normal coat changes associated with ageing, is not clear.

WHEN SHOULD I SPAY MY BITCH

Small and medium breeds generally carry out most of their development by 6 months of age and so neutering at this age is recommended.  For large breed dogs we recommend spaying 3 months after their first season to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence later on in life.  We cannot spay bitches who are in or who have just finished a season as there can be a great increase in bleeding during and after surgery.

Older bitches are similarly spayed midway between seasons.

We are always ready to discuss your individual requirements and feelings, to decide what is best for your bitch.

For further information and advice please contact the surgery on: 01376 513247