I have to say us nurses are sometimes guilty of bombarding you with information when you come in with your pup for those first health checks and vaccination appointments. We’re sorry we just want to give you as much advice as possible and get a little over enthused ! We can see the colour drain from your faces when we start reaming off facts and figures regarding neutering so this is a breakdown and refresher on neutering to hopefully help you come to a decision.
What is neutering ?
Neutering is a routine veterinary procedure we do every day in practice where the reproductive organs of an animal are surgically removed under general anaesthetic so they are therefore unable to produce more fur babies .
In dogs we carry out the surgical procedures known as castrating in males and spaying in females.
What is the difference between the spay and castrate procedure?
Castrates are performed in male dogs and are described as the surgical removal of both testes . Spays are performed in female dogs and are described as the surgical removal of both ovaries and or the whole uterus too .
Why do we neuter dogs?
We neuter dogs for health reasons , behaviour reasons and stop unwanted breeding .
Male dogs left entire (not castrated) are at risk of developing prostate disease and testicular tumours later on in life .
Female dogs left entire ( not spayed) are at risk of developing mammary tumours and developing a condition called a pyometra which is basically where the uterus fills with pus and can make them very sick if left untreated can prove fatal .
Females also come into season once or twice a year which is pretty much the same as human female menstruation cycles . As you can imagine this can get a bit messy around the house but you can get doggy nappies for this nowadays .
”We hear you are in season?!”
Walks in the park with a bitch in season can be quite frankly terrifying. I’ve experienced this first hand when I was babysitting Lucy , a friends dog who happened to be in season. I took her to the park , kept her on the lead so she couldn’t get up to mischief and I kid you not dogs appeared from know where and were all over her like flies around doggy doo doo . I had to actually put my leg between her and a randy Jack Russel at one point. My hunter wellies are still getting over the traumatic experience !
Entire males and females tend to hump things which can get pretty annoying and embarrassing !
Males left entire can sometimes be very boisterous and overconfident from the testosterone hormone produced in the testes and they will often stray looking for females in season or heat .
And finally …. there are so many unwanted pets in rescue and rehoming centres we don’t need to increase the number …..
What’s involved in the surgery itself ?
So during castration for males both testicles will be removed through one small surgical incision just a bit further forward from the scrotum .
In females the ovaries and or uterus will be removed through a larger incision made midline on their tummy.
Sometimes male dogs may retain one or both testicles within their abdomen or groin region by the penis . This just happens in some dogs , their testicles fail to descend into the scrotum as pups grow like they are supposed to normally . In these instances it is best to get them removed as if the testicles are left in the abdomen they can become tumorous nasty little suckers. These dogs should also not be bred from as their offspring can inherit this condition from them. The surgery for this will involve a slightly larger wound similar to the girls as the vet will have togo on a slight treasure hunt to locate the testicles in your dogs tummy. Or they can be removed laprascopically … I’ll discuss this next…
Female spays can now be done laparoscopically which is key hole surgery and it is a much less invasive and traumatic procedure . During this procedure only the ovaries are removed through two small holes and the uterus is left behind .
There is no risk of a formerly mentioned pyometra developing as it is the ovaries hormones which causes the condition to form .
And as mentioned prior , retained testicles in male dogs can be retrieved via this route too.
Benefits of a laparoscopic spay include ; quicker recovery time, less painful and often no need for a dreaded cone of shame to stop them licking at wounds. But they are a little more expensive to do that the conventional spay. I’ll leave that to you to weigh up though.
Is there anything else I need to take into consideration before getting my dog neutered?
It’s good to talk to a veterinary nurse or surgeon when making this decision though because sometimes surgically neutering may not be the best choice for your pup . For example surgically castrating a very nervous fearful male can make them more nervous and fearful as we are taking away their testes and therefore testosterone which is a confidence boosting hormone .
Sometimes we place a hormone implant which in effect chemically castrates males reducing testosterone levels for medical purposes (testosterone driven disease such as prostate problems) though they can still technically produce offspring as testes are still present .
We can also place these implants in fearful males as a test to see how their behaviour might be impacted before we surgically castrate them .
Another thing to consider is Large breed dogs are prone to joint disease so
neutering may be advised to be delayed in these guys as it has been suggested in research that if done too soon it may impact bone growth . But no one really knows whether this is a definite link or not so again speak to your vet about this .
Are there any risks ?
There are risks involved with performing a general anaesthetic and for the surgery too , the same us us, but your vet and vet nurse will discuss this with you and we will make the anaesthetic as safe as we possibly can for your fur baby . We know it’s scary , we can completely sympathise with you ! We turn into emotional wrecks when our pets are ill or undergo a general anaesthetic. I cried when I had to have my fur baby put under anaesthetic recently !
The thing to remember is that this is a routine operation which we perform every day . Neutering is an elective procedure carried out when your pet is fit and well and normally young too.
We give your pooch a thorough M.O.T before putting them through an anaesthetic to make sure they are fit enough to go through an anaesthetic and if something is flagged up we will always discuss this with you before going ahead with surgery we would never take any unnecessary risks. We extensively monitor your pet throughout the anaesthetic and the vet will take great care when carrying out the surgery . We treat your fur babies as if they are our own and always take very good care of them.
When should I neuter my dog?
That depends on your vets advice but the normal timings for neutering is around 6 months for males and females . This differs depending on breed, size and circumstance of your dog .
If you are getting your female spayed then ideally it should be done before the first season which is around 6 months of age (smaller toy breeds can be a little sooner). We try to do it before the first season to reduce risk of developing mammary tumours later on in life. The more seasons they have the increased risk. There are myths about you should let females have a litter of pups first or have a season first but this is old school advice.
What happens if my female dog comes into season before her surgery is scheduled?
If your angel comes into season before her spay appointment (sods law!) then you will have to wait 3 months before attempting surgery again to make sure she is fully out of season. If surgery is carried out when she is in season there is an increased risk of blood loss as the blood supply to the uterus during this time is greater. The uterus will also be enlarged which can make surgery more difficult. Also the hormones rushing around their bodies at this time can cause them to think they are pregnant permanently which is not very nice for them this is called .’Phantom pregnancy’ can cause them to display odd behaviour such as nesting , being more overprotective of toys -they can even become a little snappy. They can also experience physical effects like lactating permanently which can then go on to cause mastitis which is inflammation of the mammary tissue and is a very painful condition – ouch!
How do I look after my dog post operatively?
Your pup is going to have to be kept quiet and calm for atleast 10 days. Strict lead exercise unfortunately guys but stay strong you’ve got to be cruel to be kind !
Your pup will have stitches which may be dissolvable or need to be removed by your vet/nurse .
Bland food over the initial 24hours post anaesthetic as your pet may be feeling a little Tom -Dick (Sick!) . Boiled chicken and rice normally does the trick !
The cone of shame needs to be kept on until the stitches are removed to prevent licking which can ultimately cause an infection. As lovely as your mutt is please don’t forget they can be a bit gross they lick their bums and other dogs bums, some even eat poo so licking their lovely clean surgical wound is a big no no!
You would not believe how many times we have heard Mrs Potts say…
” I’m with my dog 24/7 so I don’t need to put that contraption on my dog to stop them licking their wound ”
…. I just don’t know how this is possible….. do you not sleep until the final post op check ? or what about when you go for a pee ? or make a cup of tea ? or when you blink? can you 100% watch your dog for 24 hours until those stitches are removed? I always imagine people walking around with one of those baby carriers strapped to their front with their 40kg german shepherd fastened in so they are always with them !
But seriously if an infection sets in this slows up the healing process and your pooch will end up having to wear the lampshade for longer . So please just keep it on your gonad free monkey until you’ve had your final post op check for everyones sanity.
Medications may be prescribed for you to administer at home – your nurse or vet will explain how to give them.
Finally …. if your worried at all just call your vet …. we really don’t mind 🙂