The pros and cons
In these days of a growing “Anti-Dog” lobby city-dwelling dog owners should consider surgical neutering as part of responsible dog ownership.
Dogs, by their very nature, are pack animals with strong instincts to form a hierarchy or “pecking-order”. Within each group, one dog will aspire to become top dog. Usually this is an adult male; he is followed in the hierarchy by other males, these by adult females, with puppies at the bottom.
Conflict within a hierarchy develops when there is competition for places, when a new dog arrives in the area, when puppies reach adulthood or where there are bitches “in season”.
Generally it is at these times of conflict that certain undesirable aspects of canine behaviour become apparent.
For behavioural and medical reasons, surgical neutering can be the answer.
- Neutering reduces the tendency for male dogs to roam after bitches in season. The bitch’s scent is powerful and can attract many male dogs in a city.
- Neutering reduces the tendency for male dogs to show aggression towards other dogs and humans. It is for this reason that neutering is one of the requirements for breeds covered by the “Dangerous Dogs Act”.
- Neutering reduces the tendency for male dogs to display overtly sexual behaviour :- mounting of other dogs/ cushions/ humans or excessive urine marking of territory (outdoors or indoors).
- Middle-aged and old male dogs are prone to such medical conditions as :- Prostate enlargement or cancer Testicular cancers Anal adenomas (anal cancer)
ALL ARE PREVENTED BY SURGICAL NEUTERING.
Surgical neutering of male dogs involves removal of both testicles (castration). Patients are allowed home the same day, and have sutures removed after 7 days.
Bitches (female dogs)
- Neutering not only stops bitches from having puppies but stops them coming into season. Bitches have, on average, two seasons each year until old age. Each season lasts between two and three weeks.
- A bitch in season can cause considerable inconvenience :-
- Attractiveness to male dogs means that she must be exercised away from public areas.
- Many bitches spot blood for 10 – 14 days during each season.
- Boarding kennels are less welcoming !
- Neutering prevents the condition known as false pregnancy. This develops about eight to twelve weeks after a season even though no mating has taken place. A bitch may build a nest, mother soft toys, and even produce milk from enlarged mammary glands. It is a hormonal upset that may take several weeks to resolve and is likely to recur after subsequent seasons.
- Neutering prevents a life-threatening condition of the womb called pyometra. This can occur from middle-age and is most common in bitches that have not had puppies. The cure is an emergency hysterectomy (with considerable anaesthetic risks).
- Neutering considerably reduces the tendency to develop mammary tumours (Breast Cancer) .Neutering prior to the bitch’s first season reduces this likelihood by 250 times.
Neutering or speying of bitches involves a full ovariohysterectomy, where the whole reproductive tract is removed. Patients are usually allowed home the same day and have their sutures removed / checked after seven days.
Dogs & bitches
Neutering may increase the tendency for male and female dogs to gain weight. However, in our opinion, this will only occur if the dog is either overfed or under exercised or, more usually, both.
At Braid Veterinary Hospital, we are in favour of all male and female dogs, unless intended for breeding, being surgically neutered.