Why Neuter Your Male Dog
By Wendy Brooks, DVM
ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS TO THE DOG?
There are several
health benefits to neutering. One of the most important concerns the prostate
gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge
over the course of the dog's life. In age, it is likely to become uncomfortable,
possibly being large enough to interfere w/defecation. The prostate under
the influence of testosterone is also predisposed to infection which is
almost impossible to clear up without neutering. Neutering causes the
prostate to shrink into insignificance thus preventing both prostatitis
as well as the uncomfortable benign hyperplasia (enlargement) that occurs
with aging. It is often erroneously held that neutering prevents prostate
cancer but this is not true.
Other health benefits
of neutering include the prevention of certain types of hernias and tumors
of the testicles and anus. Excessive preputial discharge is also reduced
BEHAVIORAL CHANGES CAN BE EXPECTED AFTER NEUTER?
The only behavior
changes that are observed after neutering relate to behaviors influenced
by male hormones. Playfulness, friendliness, and socialization with humans
are not changed. The behaviors that change are far less desirable. The
interest in roaming is eliminated in 90 percent of neutered dogs. Aggressive
behavior against other male dogs is eliminated in 60 percent of neutered
dogs. Urine marking is eliminated in 50 percent of neutered male dogs.
Inappropriate mounting is eliminated in 70 percent of neutered dogs.
EXACTLY IS DONE SURGICALLY?
is made generally just forward from the scrotum. The testicles are removed
through this incision. The stalks are tied off and cut. Castration is
achieved. If the testicles are not removed, the desirable benefits listed
above cannot be achieved. The skin incision may or may not have stitches.
CAN I EXPECT UPON DISCHARGE FROM THE HOSPITAL?
is often swollen in the first few days after surgery, leading some people
to wonder if the procedure was really performed. If the dog is immature
at the time of neutering, the empty scrotum will flatten out as he grows.
If he is mature at the time of neuter, the empty scrotum will remain as
a flap of skin. Sometimes the incision is mildly bruised but this is not
unduly sore for the dog and pain relief is almost never necessary post
neuter. Most male dogs are eager to play by the day after surgery but
to keep the incision intact, it is best to restrict the dog from boisterous
WHAT AGE CAN NEUTERING BE PERFORMED?
be performed at any age over age 8 weeks. Dogs neutered before puberty
(generally age 6 months) tend to grow a bit bigger than dogs neutered
after puberty (testosterone is involved in the causing bones to stop growing
so without testosterone the bones stop growing later). Neutering can also
be performed in the geriatric patient should the prostate gland become
enlarged and the best medical decision be to shrink it. In this event,
preanesthetic bloodwork and other diagnostics relevant to anesthetizing
an older patient would be recommended.
The traditional age
for neutering is around 6 months of age and many veterinarians still recommend
neutering at this age.
The benefits of neutering
(both health and behavioral) can still be obtained regardless of the age
at which neutering is performed.
HE GET OVER-WEIGHT OR LETHARGIC?
level and appetite do not change with neutering. A male dog should not
gain weight or become less interested in activity post neuter.
HE STILL BE INTERESTED IN FEMALES?
will be reduced but if he is around a female dog in heat, he will become
aroused by her. Mounting behavior often has roots in the expression of
dominance and may be expressed by a neutered male in a variety of circumstances
that are not motivated by sexuality.
IF A DOG HAS AN UNDESCENDED TESTICLE?
testicles have an increased tendency to grow tumors over descended testicles.
They may also twist on their stalks and cause life-threatening inflammation.
For these reasons, neutering is recommended for dogs with undescended
testicles. This procedure is more complicated than a routine neuter; the
missing testicle can be under the skin along the path it should have descended
to the scrotum or it may be inside the abdomen. Some exploration may be
needed to find it thus there is often an incision for each testicle. The
retained testicle is sterile and under-developed. If there is one descended
testicle, this one will be fertile but since retaining a testicle is a
hereditary trait, it is important that the male dog not be bred before
he is neutered