The decision whether or not to have your dog neutered can be daunting and there can be a lot of contradictory information available on the subject. We recommend that both male and female dogs are neutered (castrated for males and spayed for females) from four months of age on health grounds. We base this recommendation on the best scientific evidence available.
The procedure involves removing your dog’s testicles under a general anaesthetic, which usually just requires your pet to be with us as a day patient. Castration will prevent your dog from being able to mate with a female dog, resulting in pregnancy, and it also may curtail undesirable behaviour. We also recommend that your pet is protected against lungworm before his surgery and we suggest applying Advocate treatment at least one month before his surgery is booked.
Benefits of neutering a male dog
- Eliminates the risk of your pet developing testicular cancer, which is the second most common tumour in male dogs. This is particularly important if your dog is found to have a cryptorchid (undescended) testicle. We also offer the option of Laparoscopic surgery (“keyhole” castration) for pets which suffer from abdominally retained testicles
- Neutering also protects your pet against prostatic diseases commonly seen in unneutered dogs including inflammation and overgrowth of the prostate gland.
- Unneutered dogs can be prone to developing hernias, in particular “perineal hernia” a painful condition which makes it very difficult for the sufferer to pass motions and requires specialist surgery to correct. Castrating your pet will prevent your pet from developing this condition.
The procedure involves removing your dog’s ovaries, or “ovariectomy” (OVE) under a general anaesthetic and this usually just requires your pet to be with us as a day patient. In the UK it is more traditional to remove the ovaries and womb, (“ovariohysterectomy” or OVH), however we prefer the OVE procedure as we believe it results in a quicker surgery with less damage to tissue. However, if during the surgery we find any abnormality of the womb, we will undertake a full OVH at no extra charge and it should be noted that this may be more likely in older pets.
Both OVE and OVH will result in your pet no longer coming into season or being able to have puppies and the OVE procedure confers the same health benefits as OVH. We also offer the option of laparoscopic ovariectomy (“keyhole” spay), which confers additional benefits for your pet .We also recommend that your pet is protected against lungworm before her surgery and we suggest applying Advocate treatment at least one month before the date or her surgery.
Benefits of neutering a female dog
- Spaying your dog can reduce the chance of her developing mammary gland tumour (breast cancer), the most common type of malignant tumour in female dogs. This effect is directly associated with the timing of surgery, with the maximum protective effect achieved if your dog is spayed before her first season and it has been shown that this protective effect is reduced after the first season and with each subsequent season.
- Spaying your dog also eliminates the risk of your pet developing an infection of the womb (pyometra), a life-threatening condition that often requires emergency surgery when the patient is very ill. Pyometra is a very common condition and studies have shown that one in four unspayed female dogs will develop pyometra by the age of ten years old.
- OVE eliminates your pet’s chances of developing ovarian cancer.
- Although pregnancy and whelping are natural processes, just as with humans, things can go wrong and can be dangerous for your pet. Many dogs need assisted births, which can result in large veterinary bills. Neutering eliminates the risk of accidental pregnancy and its associated health risks and costs. It also avoids the necessity of finding homes for puppies, when shelter charities already have to deal with too many unwanted dogs.
- Unspayed dogs will come into heat, which usually happens every six months. During this time she will be attractive to male dogs and will be pursued and harassed by them for up 10 days. Neutering will prevent your pet coming into heat and the inconvenience and difficulties of keeping her separate from male dogs.
- Once a female dog has had a season, she will go on to produce pregnancy hormones, whether she has been mated or not. This can result in her showing signs of false pregnancy ("pseudo-pregnancy”) about 8-9 weeks after her season which can include enlargement of her mammary glands, milk production and behaviour changes with nesting and sometimes aggression. Occasionally these signs can be severe and need veterinary treatment to resolve. Spaying will prevent your pet from developing pseudo-pregnancy