Neutering can have really great benefits – both to your pet and to you! Plus you’ll be doing your bit to help the growing crisis of pets being abandoned, dumped or given away because there aren’t enough homes to go around.
What is neutering?
Neutering means surgically preventing pets from reproducing. In males, the operation is called castration and in females it’s called spaying.
With castration both testicles are removed which takes away the main source of the male hormone testosterone. With spaying, both the ovaries and the uterus are removed which means the female is unable to become pregnant.
What’s involved in the process?
Both operations are carried out under general anaesthetic. Every surgical procedure has some risk but modern techniques are very safe.
Because it involves surgery, there will be some discomfort but dogs are given drugs to control this and most of them are up and about just a few hours after they’ve had their operation.
How much does it cost?
The cost of castration or spaying a dog can vary a lot depending on the type of dog you have so it’s best to check with your vet. Several charities, including The Blue Cross, can help with the cost of neutering dogs so contact your nearest one to find out more.
When should I get my dog neutered?
Female dogs can be spayed from around six months old and there’s no benefit to waiting until they’ve had their first season. Some of the health benefits of spaying are actually reduced if you wait until your dog has had a season, however some larger breeds can develop other problems if they are neutered too early, so you should discuss this with your vet.
Male dogs can be neutered from six to seven months old although the exact age varies depending on their breed, so speak to your vet – but don’t leave it too late otherwise the benefits associated with castration start to reduce.
Why should I get my dog neutered?
There are lots of reasons why neutering is a good idea. Here’s a few:
For male dogs:
- Neutered male dogs are less likely to roam, which means they’re less likely to go missing, get hit by a car, get in a fight and get hurt.
- Unneutered dogs can become frustrated and may try to escape.
- Castration significantly reduces the chance of them getting prostate disease and reduces the risk of some cancers.
- An unneutered dog is more likely to show aggression to other dogs, whether they’re on or off the lead.
- An unneutered dog is more likely to be the target of aggression from another dog.
For female dogs:
- Neutering greatly reduces the risk of them getting breast cancer, particularly if carried out before the first season, and infection of the womb (called pyometra). Both of these are seen quite often in older, unneutered dogs and they can be fatal.
- Pregnancy and birth can be risky to the mum.
- Many unneutered female dogs have a false pregnancy after a season and, although this is natural, it can cause behavioural and even medical problems.
- An unneutered dog is much more likely to direct their amorous intentions towards your favourite sofa – or your visiting auntie.
- When a female dog is in season she attracts a stream of hopeful male dogs to the front door. In fact, male dogs have even been known to break down doors and fences trying to reach a potential mate.
- If a female gets pregnant you’ve got the responsibility of having to care for her during her pregnancy, birth and looking after her litter – and that’s before the challenge of trying to find good homes for the puppies. Some breeds of dog can have as many as 12 puppies in just one litter. That’s a lot of mouths to feed and the costs will soon add up.
- Female dogs in heat can be messy – they produce a bloody discharge for three weeks or more.
- Thousands of unwanted dogs are put to sleep every year because there aren’t enough homes for them. You can help by neutering your dog.
What happens after the surgery?
Some people worry that their dog’s personality will change. This isn’t true but you might see a fall in certain behaviour – roaming, mounting, fighting or spraying urine.
People also worry that their pet will get fat. Neutered animals might have slightly lower food requirements so you just need to feed them a little less.
Neutered pedigree dogs can be shown according to Kennel Club rules.