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Neutering a Dog | The Pros and Cons

Picture of of a French Bulldog on a sofa

If you are considering neutering your dog but you are still having second thoughts about doing it, it’s a good thing you are reading this article. In this post, you will find out the pros and cons of neutering a dog, the best age to neuter a dog, everything you might want to know on dog neuter recovery, and even some general information about how much it costs to have it done.

Benefits of neutering a dog

There are several reasons you might want to consider getting your dog neutered, and one of them is the prevention of unwanted litters. Needless to say, you can reduce feral and stray animal populations.

But more importantly than anything since this is your pet, you can considerably prevent testosterone-induced diseases (like prostatitis, for example) and testicular diseases (with testicular cancer being just one of them).

Besides, everyone walks their dog in the park every now and then, and you can’t have complete control over your dog if he gets acquainted with a female dog that’s in heat. Dogs can be carriers of sexually transmitted diseases. If your dog has no testicles, he isn’t going to want to interact with that female dog at all, so the possibility of him getting an STD is technically non-existent.

Last, but not least, you can prevent or reduce testosterone-mediated behavioral problems. It’s widely known and completely true that male dogs that haven’t been neutered have a more dominant personality and that’s why they are prone to being more aggressive. Not only are they more aggressive in relation to other dogs, but they can be the same in relation to people. After all, your dog is part of a pack, and you are supposed to be the Alpha, not him.

Another behavior that could give you a hard time, especially if you have a farm dog, for example, is that whenever he goes in heat, he might disappear for a whole week or so. And who knows what kind of bites, sores, and other lesions he might be sporting when he comes back? Dogs compete for the attention of female dogs that are in heat, and that always results in a fight.

What about the cons?

Many studies have shown that most neutered animals need about 25% fewer calories than entirely male animals do. A neutered dog has a lower metabolic rate, and the reason that so many male dogs become overweight or fat following the procedure is that pet parents feed them the same amount of food as before. Naturally, your dog’s behavior will change, and he won’t be as excited about running around and interacting with female dogs, for example, as he once was. It is, therefore, your responsibility to make sure that your canine buddy gets plenty of exercise, even more than before.

Unfortunately, there are several health-related risks associated with neutering, and one of them is that your dog has to go through general surgery and anesthesia. All operations have a certain degree of risk involved, and if your dog isn’t in absolute perfect health or there’s a complication, it might make more sense not to get him neutered at all.

Just like neutering your dog can prevent prostate-related problems, it can also make him prone to developing others – hemangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism, and geriatric cognitive impairment. Hemangiosarcoma is a deadly type of cancer, and it appears that reproductive hormones are capable of offering some protection against it.

You might also want to know that neutering reduces the dog’s drive to hunt, guard, or herd, as well as work.

What age to neuter dogs?

There are pros and cons to getting your dog neutered earlier or later. For example, early neutering can cause the leg bones to grow unevenly, and it’s also said to expose your dog to bone cancer as many as four times than a dog that was neutered later in his life.

The current recommendation is to get your male dog neutered between the ages of 5 to 7 months old. Most vets agree that it is safer to perform anesthesia on a 5-month-old puppy than it is on a younger one. The procedure can be done earlier, and that’s because it largely prevents all hormone-induced behaviors. There is also less bleeding associated with an early neuter procedure, and the recovery time is quicker.

On the other hand, there is a loss of testosterone production associated with neutering your dog at a very early age (younger than 5 months), and that means that some or many of the masculine characteristics that he would get as he grows up are going to be significantly reduced. To put it simply, your dog isn’t going to be as ‘masculine’ or strong if he was neutered before the age of 5 months.

Neutering a dog – Procedure

We won’t go into too much detail since the terminology might make the surgery specifics rather complicated to understand. However, the simplest explanation for the procedure is that your dog goes into surgery having testicles and comes out of it without any testicles.

While desexing a male dog is far simpler and has fewer risks compared to doing the same on a female dog – just because it takes less time and the organs that have to be removed are outside the body -, you still have to prepare your pet for surgery. It is recommended that you do not feed your canine buddy for a minimum of six hours prior to the operation, but water should not be withheld.

Upon arriving at the veterinary clinic, your pet will be examined to ensure that he is healthy, and you will be explained the risks of a general anesthetic procedure. You might have to give your written permission that you agree with the anesthesia and surgery. Once all that is done, your dog will receive a premedication drug (sedative), then given a general anesthetic, and then he will go into surgery.

What to expect after neutering a dog

Unlike what you would have to do if you were to get your female dog spayed, you do not have to make any changes in the dietary routine of your dog following the operation. Unless your veterinarian advises otherwise, you can feed your pet the night after surgery. Many pets have upset tummies following the procedure, however, so it might be a good idea to give your canine friend only a small amount of food, preferably wet.

How long will my dog be in pain after neutering? It’s difficult to say because it largely depends on every animal, but most of the pain goes away after a couple of days. You might think that this could be one of the reasons not to neuter your dog, but it’s not – the recovery is fast and effective. There is some degree of local sensitivity that remains after this time span, but the area fully heals within 10 to 14 days after the operation. Your vet will recommend several types of prescription anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Carprofen, for example) that should be given with food.

What’s really important is that you do not allow your dog to lick the area where the surgery was performed. Many dogs have to wear cones for a period of time because otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to get a hold of themselves and avoid trying to heal the lesion by over-licking it. Your dog’s mouth is rich in bacteria so needless to say, he can infect the incision area. If it itches (and it might, after a while), he might even try to pull on the sutures with his teeth, and that is something that you most definitely do not want.

If possible, check the sutures every day and make sure that they aren’t red or swollen. Of course, this does not include the first 3 to 5 days after the surgery was performed as the inflammation is completely normal within that time span.

The skin sutures have to be removed around ten to fourteen days following the procedure. During this time, it is highly advised that you avoid allowing your dog to engage in strenuous exercise so as to allow the skin to heal as best as possible. Light walking is allowed but jumping or running are not. You are also not allowed to bathe your dog for two weeks after he was neutered.

How much does it cost to neuter a dog?

The average price to neuter a dog at a low-cost clinic is around $50 to $150, depending on the size and weight of the dog. The cost can vary a lot depending on the area you live and even the veterinarian. In rare cases where veterinary students might perform the procedure under the guidance of a vet or a professor, the operation could be free.

The bottom line

There are both advantages and disadvantages to neutering your dog. If your dog marks excessively, is aggressive toward people or other dogs, pays more attention to other dogs than he does to you, or tries to mount dogs or people’s legs all the time, it might make sense. Breeds like German Shepherds, Leonbergers, and Irish Setters are prone to developing perianal fistula, and neutering can reduce this risk.

Whatever you decide, you also have to take into account the cons, as well. After all, this type of surgery involves general anesthesia, and that is by far the most important risk to consider. You can choose to neuter your dog when he is 7 months old or even close to 1-year-old if you want to make sure that his body develops normally.

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