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A Guide to Dog Neutering

Neutering is the term used for the surgical removal of the reproductive organs of both male and female dogs. Neutering has a number of benefits, including reducing the number of unwanted litters and therefore the number of dogs in rescues.

Female dogs are spayed – their ovaries and uterus are removed, while male dogs are castrated – their testicles are removed.

Why Neuter?

Neutering can have a number of benefits:

Benefits for male dogs:

  • Neutering can help prevent behavioural issues such as scent marking, humping, and straying.
  • Neutered males may be less likely to display aggression towards other dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog’s behaviour can change when a nearby bitch is in season, and they may try to escape in order to get to her. This can lead to accidents including dogs escaping and running into busy roads.
  • Neutering reduces the risk of prostatic disease and some cancers that can be costly to treat and painful and in some cases fatal for your dog.
  • If your dog has an undescended testicle, it is particularly important that he is neutered as retained testicles can become twisted or cancerous.

Benefits for female dogs:

  • Female dogs usually come into season for about three weeks twice a year. At this time they can become pregnant and will produce a bloody discharge. Neutering prevents the risk of unwanted litters and the mess of dealing with seasons.
  • Pregnancy and delivery can be a health risk for dogs, particular brachycephalic breeds which often require a caesarean.
  • Neutering can prevent some cancers and pyometra, an infection of the womb which can be fatal and requires expensive surgery to treat.
  • Unneutered female dogs are also at a high risk of developing mammary tumours.

When to neuter your dog:

Most dogs can be neutered from six months of age. There are, however, a number of factors to consider:

  • Breed: If your dog is a large breed, your vet may recommend waiting slightly longer.
  • Weight: Your dog needs to be a healthy weight to undergo surgery. Overweight dogs have a higher anaesthetic risk and a higher chance of complications during surgery.
  • Being in season: If your dog is in season, it is best to wait until three months after her season ends to spay her. Some vets may also wish to wait until after your dog has had a season before spaying.
  • Health conditions: If your dog is suffering from other health conditions, or is currently on medication, this may change when it is best to neuter them.

Risks of neutering:

Neutering is a relatively safe, routine procedure. As with any operation, there is a small risk of complications during and after surgery.