I have friends who are adamant they will not be neutering their dog, emphatic that this will cause undue pain and suffering, or that it is not natural. I duly ask if they intend to breed their beloved pooch and more often than not the answer is “no”. So why do some of us seem fairly opposed to neutering?

At STERIS Animal Health we looked into the procedure in a little more detail and why it may be worthy of further consideration if you are thinking of not neutering but have no intention to breed your dog.

Neutering is without doubt one of the biggest decisions you can make for your pet. As such, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons of the procedure – that’s exactly what we have tried to encapsulate in this article.

The advantages of neutering a dog include:

  • Decreased aggression and roaming
  • Inappropriate behaviour towards other dogs, bitches and humans
  • No risk of testicular tumours
  • Fewer hernias and fewer prostate problems

The welfare considerations in neutering a dog:

  • If a dog is neutered too early it is put at increased risk of acquiring hip dysplasia, torn ligaments and bone cancer, it can also increase the risk of hypothyroidism
  • A dog cannot be bred following this procedure
  • There are risks in any invasive procedure from anesthetic, complications and post-surgical infection but these are limited.

When to neuter or castrate your dog

Vets recommend female dogs are neutered at six months old or, in some instances, after their first season (depending on their breed).

For male dogs, vets recommend castration between six and seven months old.

In all instances, we recommend speaking to your local vet surgery for guidance. All dogs are different and your vet is best placed to advise.

Let’s take a look at what the veterinary sector says

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) states that neutering helps to manage the number of unwanted puppies being born, as well as preventing the reproduction of animal lines that bare genetic defects. While the Association does acknowledge that the procedure is not a trivial one, the benefits of neutering outweigh any welfare implications.

With the majority of the veterinary community leaning towards neutering why do pet parents still (in some instances) seem averse to the procedure? At STERIS Animal Health HQ we asked some fellow colleagues and contacts via our social media channels their thoughts on the issue and the results were interesting.

What did some of our respondent/pet parents say?

A respondent from Cheshire grew up with dogs. Her dad opted not to neuter the dogs (two golden retrievers) as he saw it as an unnecessary hassle. In her adult life she brought a Malamute home and decided that, due to his boisterous behaviour, castration would be the best option for him. While she felt it did help him, she later regretted not breeding him. On balance, she felt that a lot of behaviours are attributable to particular breeds and she would probably not opt for castration again if she chose the right breed for her and her family.

A second respondent advised us that he would only neuter due to behaviour to “calm him down”. As he had chosen a laid-back dog he felt he had no need to neuter his dog.

A third owner wanted to neuter her dog (Dogue de Bordeaux), but felt that the cost of doing so was prohibitive for her to be able to do this having been quoted a range of prices. She also found that some vets wouldn’t even consider the procedure due to the breed. She concluded that if the procedure was more cost effective then more owners would be likely to consider this option. (click here to read about the average cost of a dog’s lifetime)

To contrast this with my own experience, I chose to castrate my male Cockapoo; he was exhibiting symptoms of hyperactivity and mildly inappropriate behaviour toward humans. Regardless of these minor behavioural issues, I would have chosen to castrate him anyway – it is my belief that this offers my dog a healthier life. Six months on I am confident I made the right decision, not just in reducing his hyperactivity but for the health of his future. He is a fantastic dog and an affectionate temperament and I haven’t observed any ill effects of the procedure.

Our conclusion?

It is still a very personal decision and one every owner needs to make and nothing is without risk. Ensure the decision you make is fully informed before reaching a conclusion. From our brief research, there appear to be a number of myths in circulation, not least that you should only consider neutering if your dog is behaving badly. The PDSA have a fantastic video that dispels some of these myths and is well worth a watch

https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/all-pets/neutering-myths

Finally

Equip yourself with facts

  • From your registered vet
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • BVA
  • Other pet owners (ask those that chose to castrate and those that didn’t, ask whilst out on walks or via forums)

STERIS Animal Health Services supports vets to deliver excellent surgical care to all animals, helping to create a healthier and safer world. Our range of neutering and castration kits are manufactured using human medical grade stainless steel and processes, because we believe animals deserve only the best.

Written by Kat Holt – Head of Corporate Development


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