Most male animals that are kept for companionship rather than breeding and are often neutered (castrated). This includes domestic animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. It is very much the decision of the owner as to whether they wish to castrate their pet or not.
At what age can my dog be castrated?
Recent studies have shown that there can be a higher incidence of cancer (bone cancer and mast cell tumours) in larger breed dogs that were neutered before 12 months of age. The studies were carried out in Rottweilers, Viszlas and Golden Retrievers.
We are therefore changing our advice in line with this new research, we now will be recommending any dog that should reach an expected adult weight of over 20 kg to wait until at least 12 months old before castration.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in contact, if you still wish to have a larger breed dog neutered before 12 months then we will be happy to accommodate you.
We castrate smaller and medium sized male dogs from six months of age.
What are the benefits of castration?
Castration eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer and greatly reduces the chance of prostatic disease and perianal tumours; these are two very common and serious problems of older male dogs.
How does neutering affect the behaviour of my pet?
The behaviours that will be affected by castration are ones controlled by male hormones. It will take some time, often up to one month or even a little more for the hormones to wear off. After this time such behaviours like ‘straying’, ‘calling’, ‘humping’, and other sexual behaviours will be reduced. Urine marking can also be reduced by castration.
Some forms of aggression can be reduced, providing that they are influenced by male hormones and not a learned behaviour.
Neutering will not change the temperament of your pet or suddenly make them grumpy. Likewise it will not necessarily calm an excitable dog either. This will be down to the training it has received and other factors such as not enough exercise or overfeeding diets with too many additives that can cause hyperactivity.
After castration when the hormones have worn off the metabolism decreases significantly and this can lead to weight gain. So monitor for weight gain in your pet and decrease their amount of food sensibly. If you would like advise on this, we run Weight Management nurse clinics at the surgeries, and a qualified veterinary nurse would be more than happy to discuss feeding and diets with you.
What is involved with the castration procedure?
The procedure involves surgical removal of the testicles (orchidectomy). This procedure therefore requires the dog to have a general anaesthetic. There are always risks with anaesthetic procedures, however most pets coming in for castration are young, fit and healthy animals. The drugs used today are far safer than in the past and only trained members of staff are in charge of monitoring the anaesthetics. These facts combined make the risk greatly reduced.
During the operation an incision is made just in front of the scrotal sac and both testicles are removed, leaving the scrotal sac intact.
How long will it take for my pet to recover from the procedure?
Your dog will be kept at the surgery for the day of the operation and providing he has had a good recovery he may go home the same evening. The most important things to observe are the sutures. These will generally need to be removed after ten days from the operation providing no complications have arisen.
The most common complication to arise is patient interference; we take measures to prevent this such as the use of a Buster collar or Medical T-Shirt. This prevents the patient licking and chewing the wound and therefore prevents infection and breakdown of the wound. They normally need to be worn until the sutures are removed. Socks can be placed on the dog’s feet if he is scratching the wound.
As an extra precaution we ask to see the dog three days after the operation. We are then able to check the wound to ensure it is healing in a satisfactory manner and make sure there are no problems.
My dog has retained testicles, what does this mean?
During foetal development or shortly after birth, the testicles will descend into the scrotal sac. In some cases the testicles may not descend fully, in many cases this is believed to be a genetic tendency.
Patients with this condition are known as either unilateral (one testicle) or bilateral (both testicles) cryptorchids. The testicle may be retained in the abdomen or anywhere between the abdominal cavity and the external sac.
Retained testicles are more prone to developing cancer due to not being in the environment they were designed for. It is for this reason that we would recommend that animals with this condition are castrated and are not used for breeding, as this is often an inherited abnormality.