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Dog: Male Castration

Other common/scientific names: Neuter, orchidectomy, surgical sterilization

Terms

  • Sterilization: Any procedure which eliminates an animal’s ability to reproduce.
  • Castration, Neuter: Sterilization by surgical removal of the testicles of a male or the ovaries and uterus of a female. Is more commonly used in reference to males.
  • Orchidectomy: Surgical removal of the testicles.
  • Spay: Sterilization by surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus of a female.
  • Ovariohysterectomy: Surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus.

General Information

The main benefits of castrating a male dog are behavioral. Male dogs reach sexual maturity between six and twelve months of age. At this time, the testicles are producing testosterone which is the main drive for unwanted behavior. Additionally, in the United States, millions of dogs and cats, including purebreds, are euthanized or end up homeless as a result of pet overpopulation. As a responsible dog owner, you will not want to add to the overpopulation of dogs.

Benefits

  • Better behavior: Castrated males are less likely to roam the neighborhood in search of a female. They are also less aggressive to other male dogs. Castrated males are less likely to exhibit inappropriate mounting.
  • Prevent urine marking: Intact (non-castrated) male dogs will mark their territory by hiking their leg and urinating in the house, on trees and other vertical objects. By castrating before sexual maturity, this behavior can be prevented.
  • Prevention of prostate disease: Removal of the testicles almost completely reduces the level of testosterone in the male dog. A low level of testosterone can prevent prostate enlargement and infection.
  • Prevention of testicular cancer: Removing the testicle eliminates the chance of testicular cancer.
  • Prevention or treatment of anal tumors: Tumors which develop around the anus are driven by testosterone. Castration can prevent these tumors from developing and help shrink these tumors once they occur.

Risks

  • A castration requires general anesthesia. While this procedure is relatively safe, there is always a risk when a dog undergoes anesthesia. Bloodwork performed prior to anesthesia can help assure that your dog is healthy enough to undergo the procedure.
  • An incision is made when a dog is castrated. There is the possibility of healing complications such as infection and/or dehiscence.
  • Castrated males have an increased incidence of developing urinary incontinence.
  • Because of declining hormones, castrated males have the tendency to gain more weight than intact males. This can be easily avoided by reducing the amount of dog food.
  • Canine breeds that have long, double-coated hair may experience a change in their haircoat after spaying. Although unproven, this change is attributed to hormonal changes resulting in a heavier, softer coat.

Surgical Procedure

Food should be withheld from the dog for ten to twelve hours prior to surgery. This results in an empty stomach and less chance of vomiting during anesthesia.

Under general anesthesia, a skin incision is made just in front of the scrotum. The testicles are ligated (tied off) to prevent bleeding and removed. The incision is closed with two layers of sutures. The first layer of sutures are not seen because they are beneath the skin layer. These sutures are absorbable, meaning they dissolve on their own without the need for removal. The skin is closed with sutures that may or may not need to be removed ten days post surgery. Generally, the dog will not need to be hospitalized overnight and can return home the same day as the surgery.

Medication for pain is dispensed to the owner for five to seven days post surgery.

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Abb. GGTFIOZS: Schematic illustration of the canine male reproductive organs.
Both testicles and epididymides and part of the spermatic cords are removed when a male is castrated.

After Care

Some dogs will experience mild nausea from the anesthesia. Because of this, the dog should be offered only a small amount of water and food. Normal feeding can resume the following morning.

It is very important that the dog does not lick the incision or pull at his sutures. A second surgery can be necessary if the dog removes the sutures too soon. A special collar (E-collar or Elizabethan collar) is worn by the dog to prevent this. While this collar may seem uncomfortable, most dogs tolerate it well. It may need to be removed to allow the dog to eat.

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Abb. GSR8XNQ5: Dog with Elizabethan collar

Activity should be restricted during the week following surgery to allow proper healing.

Prognosis

It is important to remember that not all behavior issues are controlled or eliminated with castration. Castration is not a substitute for proper handling and training. Older dogs may not change their behavior because the behavior is too ingrained in their personality. Some male dogs will continue to be aggressive to both people and other dogs. Inappropriate mounting may be more dominance-related and thus, not eliminated with castration.

Male dogs tolerate this surgery well. Veterinarians have sophisticated anesthetic units, safe anesthetic medications and cardiovascular monitors to minimize surgical risks. Advancements in pain control allow dogs to recover pain free. As with any anesthesia and surgery, there are risks associated with the procedure.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by www.enpevet.de
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