Benefits of Neutering
Neutering stops unwanted pups - either from your bitch, or from your male dog escaping to his girlfriend next door. Bitches will no longer have their seasons, so less mess for you and less hormonal mood swings.
There are many pros to neutering. The occurrence of ovarian, mammary and uterine cancers can be reduced in a spayed female. In neutered males it reduces the chances of your dog suffering from prostrate or testicular cancer. It also prevents the sexual inclination to mount anything and everything (other dogs, your legs and furniture) which can be very annoying behaviour if it occurs. Advocates of neutering say the procedure can add years to the expected life span of your pet.
Rescue centres are full of unwanted dogs who are a result of unwanted pregnancies. These are in the main cross breeds, which may be hard to find good homes for, and may end up being given away to someone who doesn’t really want them, hence ending up in a sanctuary. If your bitch is not spayed you run the risk of an amorous dog getting into your garden, and if your dog is entire then you may find it has a tendency to escape from the confines of your home (with the inherent dangers of busy roads) when a local female is in heat.
As often the case, it will be the bitch who’ll end up with the problems, and the owners may need to pay large vet bills for the pregnancy, birth or looking after the pups with no hope of being able to recoup the money selling pups of unknown parentage.
After neutering dogs need less protein in their diets - the fact that people continue to feed them the same amount leads to spayed bitches and castrated males becoming overweight, hence the general belief that weight gain is a result of the procedure itself. This is untrue, and an increase in weight can be prevented by following your vet’s advice on the correct amount to feed.
Disadvantages of Neutering
It is only more recently that neutering has become a common practice, and in fact there are some calls for it to become mandatory in some areas of the US However, there is also an alternative view that routine neutering isn't necessarily in the best interests of all dogs. Neutering is an absolute once only decision
All surgery carries a slight risk as it involves an anaesthetic. There is some evidence to show that spaying and castration increases the chances of a dog getting bone cancer.
Neutering in dogs is not reversible. Take advice from, and discuss any concerns with your vet, and read up about the pros and cons before making your decision. As in anything like irrevocable, making an informed decision you are comfortable with is the most important thing to do for you. There is a very good scientific article that examines some of the issues with neutering.
Neutering can cause knee and hip problems, and increases the risk of some cancers.
In certain breeds neutering drastically alters the coat. What was once sleek and shiny can become thick and woolly, and your dog will not look the same again. Check what the effects of neutering will have on your breed before making your decision.
This is my conclusion, having looked at the literature available it may not be yours. Unless there is a real issue, or an entire bitch in the house, I would keep a male dog entire. If I was to neuter him I would wait until he had finished growing first, and probably try a hormone implant as the first step. There are more cons to pros for neutering a male dog.
Bitches are different, and the health benefits slightly outweigh the disadvantages. The benefit of spaying is that she will no longer come into season, and will not go through phantom pregnancies, or run the risk of being impregnated by a rogue dog. Bitches, in my view, should be allowed to have at least one season and then be spayed once they have finished their growth and development unless they are going to be bred from. Although factors such as the changes to the coat do need to be taken into account.
f you decide not to neuter, just be aware of the risks and be a responsible dog owner and do all you can to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
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Should You have Your Puppy Neutered?
What your Vet will say about Neutering
Before you put your dog through invasive surgery, make sure you research the pros and cons thoroughly, and make an informed decision for yourself. As well as whether or not you are going ahead with the operation, you will need to consider the timing that's best for your breed and/or size of dog. Here are a few things that you might want to consider.
When shouldn’t you have your dog neutered?
We look to our vets as being able to give us expert advice, but when it comes to neutering there is a lot of controversy out there.
The advice you will get from your vet will vary from practice to practice, but there seems to be a growing approach to expect all owners to neuter their puppy at around the six month mark. The assumption of vets is that ALL dogs will be routinely neutered, and it's usual for them to mention it when you take your puppy for it's first vaccination.
If you own a pedigree dog who you think you might want to show it in conformation classes do not have it neutered at this early stage. Although it is possible to show a neutered dog (although you have to register this fact with the Kennel Club), the rationale behind showing is that a winning show dog has the conformity which needs to be encouraged in the breed, and hence should be bred from if he is also proved clear of hereditary genetic problems known in that breed.
It is impossible to tell whether a puppy has show potential until it is several months old - or even closer to adult as it may change as its body develops.
Neutered dogs can be shown in obedience classes and agility classes.
If you are not interested in showing in conformation classes or have a cross breed dog then you should seriously think about neutering.
What Age should you have your dog neutered?
A lot of vets recommend neutering as young as six months but you should think carefully before going ahead at such a young age. The sex hormones are actually very important in a dog's growth and mental development. Neutering too young can cause problems with how their bones grow, and also with mental development. Ideally neutering should take place once your dog is fully grown.
Some people wish to neuter a bitch early as they do not want to deal with a season. It is best, however, to let a bitch have one season, and then neuter 3 months afterwards. During the season, and during di-estrus (60 to 90 days after the season) the hormone levels remain high as is the blood supply to the uterus. Spaying during this time may cause excessive bleeding. Most vets prefer to spay during anestrus, the resting time between seasons when the hormone levels are back to normal.
Bitches should therefore ideally be spayed 3 months after a season.
Some thoughts about Neutering
Many people think neutering a nervous or aggressive dog will calm it down. The risks, unfortunately are that without the organs which produce sex hormones, the dog will simply become more nervous or aggressive. Neutering to 'solve' behavioural problems should be thought about very carefully, and only taken when all other routes have first been explored (i.e. taking the advice of a behavourist).
Some people believe that neutering reduces hyperactivity. Sex hormones take six months to a year before they are fully out of the dog's system after neutering. Dogs can develop a lot during this time, and any calming effect is as likely due to the dog maturing, as to neutering.
Many people manage to keep entire dogs or bitches without any issues at all, they live long healthy lives, and don't suffer from the cancers and problems that neutering can prevent. On the other hand, some entire dogs do suffer from health problems that neutering could have prevented and die earlier as a result.
Some entire bitches have terrible phantom pregnancies after each season, and it's probably kinder to neuter them than let them suffer. Some entire dogs get extremely distressed when they smell a bitch in heat - they can loose their appetite, bark, howl and pace continually. If they are neutered they lose their interest in females, and live happier lives as a result.
If an owner thinks behavioural problems might be resolved by neutering there is the option to use a hormone implant to see what the effect might be. This is chemical castration. The hormone will last for up to a year. If the dog improves with the implant then neutering would be a good option. If matters worsen, or don't improve, then neutering would not help. Unlike neutering the castrating effects of the implant are not permanent.
What Exactly is Neutering?
Neutering is the term used for the surgical operation to remove a dog's reproductive organs. Whilst the term neutering is often used for both males and females, spaying is the correct word for bitches. The operation is performed under general anesthetic. Neutering is not reversible. 'entire' describes a dog or bitch which has not been neutered.
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You'll be told the health benefits of neutering, but the vet will probably not go into the disadvantages.
The reason that most vets push for early neutering is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. However a responsible owner can prevent adding to the dog population quite easily