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Having your dog neutered: when and why?

Having your dog neutered is a way of rendering him or her infertile. There are various benefits of neutering your dog, but it is recommended to wait until a certain age. We will elaborate on neutering your dog here.

What is neutering?

Neutering involves removing the testicles (male) or the ovaries and sometimes the womb (female) in order to render the dog infertile. The procedure is conducted under full narcosis by a vet. Usually only the ovaries are removed when neutering a female, but in case of any disorders to the womb, it may be removed as well.

What is sterilisation?

Neutering is a form of sterilisation. Sterilising a dog means: making the animal infertile. There are other ways of achieving that apart from neutering. For example:

  • Interrupting the sperm ducts or oviducts.
  • Temporary castration with a hormonal injection, implant or a hormone-suppressing injection.

Of all the possible forms of sterilisation, neutering is the most invasive and irreversible. It is invasive because it affects sex hormone production. This may affect the animal’s behaviour.

At what age should a dog be neutered?

For females, it is recommended to wait until two or three months after first heat. Neutering too soon may cause incontinence, although neutering at a young age does increase its positive effect on breast cancer prevention. For males, no preferential age exists; it is customary to have a male dog neutered at the age of one year.

Why neuter your dog?

In most cases, people have their dogs neutered to prevent them from breeding. But that is not the only reason. Preventing undesirable behaviour or preventing a female from going into heat are reasons for people to have their dogs neutered. A female goes into heat twice a year, during that time she is fertile for a couple of days and loses blood. Males have a strong response to the scent of a female in heat and may proceed to chase her. Finally, there may be medical indications for having a dog neutered. Tumours are an example. Having a female neutered prevents inflammations of the womb and phantom pregnancy, and it reduces the risk of mammary gland tumours.

Downsides of neutering

We’ve mentioned some pros, but castration may have its cons as well. Though a routine procedure for most vets, it remains an operation after all, which always comes with risks. Problems may arise with narcosis or wound healing, but these are minor risks. In addition, dogs may lose control of their bladder. The risk of this happening depends on the breed; larger breeds tend to be more prone to this issue than smaller breeds.

Your dog’s behaviour may change. Positively or negatively. Snapping due to insecurity is a problem that may get exacerbated as a result of lowered hormone levels following castration. In other cases, undesirable behaviour such as humping may be reduced. It is important to determine whether castration is right for your dog on a case-by-case basis. If you have any doubts or questions, do make sure to consult your vet. Finally, a castrated dog may become less active, requiring less (calorie-rich) food.

Read more about how much to feed your dog.

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