Neutering of dogs - why?
There are many reasons in favour of neutering dogs. There are other arguments against neutering, however, and there are problems that are not permanently solved by neutering.
Neutering undoubtedly means that the dog can no longer reproduce, that is, he can move around freely in groups of other dogs without a risk of unwanted offspring. This applies particularly for hunting dogs, working dogs, etc. Diseases such as testicular tumours or cryptorchidism in males (when one or both testicles are in the groin or abdomen) also make neutering medically necessary. The same applies for ovarian and uterine tumours or inflammation of the womb (pyometra, haematometra) in females. Diabetes mellitus also occurs quite frequently in usually elderly females, which is cycle-dependent, so spaying forms an important part of treatment.
By the way: animals obtained from an animal shelter have usually been neutered. The thinking behind this is that unwanted reproduction should be avoided as the resulting pups may well end up in the shelter themselves.
The reasons for neutering can be varied. They must be considered well as under animal protection legislation neutering represents an amputation and is not possible without an indication.
What happens when a dog is neutered?
Neutering of a dog (both male and female) is done under a general anaesthetic. For this, the animal should be fasting, that is, it should not have eaten anything for 12 hours. (Otherwise, he or she could vomit during induction of anaesthesia. The dog inhales the vomit and can suffer lung inflammation as a result or choke in the worst case.)
In males, the operation area in front of the scrotum is shaved and disinfected. Both testicles are removed through one incision. The wound is then sutured closed.
In females, the operation is a bit more major as the ovaries are located inside the abdomen. In this case, too, the operation field is shaved and disinfected. After the skin and abdominal muscles have been divided, the vet finds the ovaries and removes them. Depending on what has been agreed, the uterus is left in place or removed at the same operation. We are happy to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this. If conditions such as cysts, tumours etc. are visible in the womb, it should definitely be removed also.
Following the operation the animals are given pain relief and usually a body stocking and neck collar to prevent them from chewing and licking the operation wound. Once the dog is fully awake, he or she can be collected and brought home to recover from the operation. The sutures are removed after about 10 to 12 days.
Endoscopic neutering is an alternative to the classic operation: this involves inserting instruments into the abdomen through two to three small holes, so this results in much smaller wounds. This is a big advantage especially with dogs kept in a pack or animals that are difficult to handle.
Duration of neutering procedure in dogs
A general statement cannot be made about how long neutering takes as it depends on various factors.
Some of these are:
- How easy is it to anaesthetise the animal? (It can be more difficult e.g. with circulatory problems and in elderly animals)
- Are the testicles / ovaries (and possibly the uterus) healthy and intact? (Neutering a dog with e.g. cryptorchidism takes longer as removing the testicle from the abdomen is more difficult.)
- Does the animal have an increased bleeding tendency? (e.g., in overweight dogs)
- How quickly does the dog wake up fully after neutering?
Neutering a male dog whose testicles are both in the scrotum is usually relatively quick; for an experienced surgeon, the procedure itself is dealt with in less than half an hour. As mentioned above, neutering takes a bit longer in females or males with cryptorchidism. The duration also depends on the anaesthesia method and whether other procedures have to be performed, e.g., removing dental tartar. In some dogs, it can also take a bit longer until they have woken up fully from the anaesthetic.
Your vet will answer all your questions regarding neutering and will tell you in any case after what interval you can collect your pet.
What is the difference from chemical neutering of dogs?
Chemical neutering of a male dog consists of injection of a hormone implant, which is about the size of the microchip and the effect of which lasts 6 or 12 months, depending on the product. These times vary from dog to dog, often depending on size; that is, the effect often lasts longer in small dogs. Following the treatment, the testicles shrink visibly. But be warned: fertile sperms are still present in the epididymis, the storage organ for mature sperm, for about 6 weeks after the implant is inserted. The male should not have any contact with females in heat for this length of time. It is also important to know that typical male dog behaviour is increased initially after implantation of the product, and this sometimes persists for up to 6 weeks.
The implant releases small doses of a hormone that ultimately suppresses the dog’s testosterone production through different intermediate stages so he becomes infertile for a certain time. When no more active substance is present, the dog again produces male sex hormones, which can also be seen from the increase in the size of the testes. Chemical neutering in dogs is used to test whether the behavioural problems are really eliminated and to see whether undesirable behavioural problems or incontinence occur. The Suprelorin implant can be used as “trial neutering” or to neuter male dogs when avoiding an anaesthetic is desirable.
This product is not licensed for chemical neutering of females.
Dogs after neutering: changes and possible side effects
Your dog will change after neutering: regardless of whether this is surgical or chemical, sex-specific behaviour will diminish markedly or cease completely.
An operation and an anaesthetic are always bound up with risks, which differ individually depending on the animal. Older animals and those with chronic disease always have a higher risk from a general anaesthetic than young healthy dogs.
Possible side effects of neutering in dogs include:
- Urinary incontinence (especially in heavy large females, and occasionally in males)
- Coat changes (more downy hair, “puppy fur”, animals look fluffy)
- Weight gain with excessive calorie intake (switching to a reduced-calorie food is often useful)
It is important to find out before neutering whether troublesome behaviour, e.g., mounting, is actually sexually motivated. In some cases, behavioural therapy suffices, and this is more difficult in fearful male dogs who have been neutered.
From what age can a dog be neutered?
Male and female dogs can be neutered in principle at a very young age – even puppies are neutered.
In males there are many reasons for waiting until they are fully grown, but for individual animals there are also very good reasons for neutering them much sooner.
For females, it is very important to discuss this with the vet of your choice before the first heat as there are good reasons for spaying before the first heat, just as there are reasons in another bitch, e.g., juvenile vaginitis, definitely not to neuter before the first heat. In addition, there are breed-related differences in when the first heat occurs.
What does dog neutering cost?
What it costs to neuter a dog differs and depends on various factors. Vets always have a fee schedule (GOT), in which the different items are listed. This can vary from a single to a triple rate, with the latter intended, for instance, for emergencies or particularly complicated procedures. The duration and severity of the operation, drug consumption and necessary postoperative care finally determine the cost of dog neutering. If you have any questions, ask your veterinary surgeon who will be happy to advise you.
What is sterilisation?
In sterilisation only the spermatic ducts or fallopian tubes are tied or cut. Sex-specific behaviour and the female cycle are maintained but the animals can no longer produce offspring or become pregnant. This operation is rarely performed in dogs and cats.
Neutering of dogs: conclusion
Neutering a dog can be a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancies in the female, suppressing certain sexually motivated behaviours or counteracting disease risks. Whether or not your dog should be neutered is always an individual decision, which must take various factors into account. Our vets will advise you in detail on whether neutering your dog makes sense and is possible under animal protection legislation.