Why should I neuter my dog?
Dogs Trust wants to highlight the importance of neutering your dog and why it is so beneficial both for you, your dog and canine welfare in general. We truly believe that it’s ‘Nicer to Neuter’ and we would encourage every dog owner to speak to a registered vet about neutering their dog.
Neutering can often have a positive influence on certain aspects of your dog’s health and can help to prevent some life-threatening illnesses.
- Female dogs can develop bacterial infections of the uterus known as pyometra and the likelihood of an individual contracting this infection increases as the dog gets older and experiences more heats/ seasons. It is a very serious infection and usually requires an emergency neutering operation and medical stabilisation. If not treated in time it can be fatal. Neutering completely removes the risk of a female dog developing pyometra.
- Spaying can decrease a female dog’s likelihood of developing mammary tumours which can be cancerous and sadly sometimes even fatal. Evidence suggests that the earlier in life a female is neutered the less likely she is to develop mammary tumours.
- Neutering your female dog will mean she no longer has seasons/ heat cycles which usually happen twice a year and last for approximately 3 weeks. These can present practical challenges in terms of management; for example, needing to keep her away from any unneutered male dogs who will be very interested in mating with her during this time, which could lead to an accidental pregnancy.
- There are also risks associated with pregnancy and whelping. Obstructed labour can be a complication for any breed but is more commonly experienced by small breeds with larger heads. Obstructed labour can be fatal if veterinary attention is not sought in good time and sometimes an emergency C-section is required.
- Testicular tumours are quite common in unneutered male dogs, and dogs and just like the female mammary tumours; these can be cancerous. Castration completely removes this risk.
- Benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH for short, is a common disease of the canine prostate. The prostate becomes enlarged under the influence of testosterone and can lead to difficulty when urinating or defecating.
Neutering may have a positive effect on your dog’s behaviour.
- Neutering a female dog involves removal of the main source of oestrogen and progesterone which can influence behaviours related to the reproductive cycle. For example, neutering may be beneficial for females who display aggressive behaviour and sensitivity specifically around the time they are in season.
- Neutering is also likely to be helpful in females who have suffered from behavioural changes such as aggression and anxiety associated with phantom pregnancy.
- In the male dog, neutering involves removal of the main source of testosterone, which can influence certain behavioural traits. Neutering may help reduce the severity of behaviours influenced by testosterone, such as roaming (often associated with a female in season) which can increase the risk of involvement in road traffic accidents, urine marking, aggression towards other male dogs in particular circumstances, and mounting behaviour. It’s important to note that these behaviours can also be influenced by other factors, however.
- Neutering might also be helpful with training, as neutered dogs are potentially less distracted by other dogs. This can be useful for owners when training their dogs, helping them to be more focused and well behaved, especially when out in public. For this reason, neutering is also likely to be beneficial for working dogs, limiting distractibility when set to a task.
The consideration given to the expense of neutering your dog, as well as general healthcare, before welcoming a dog into your family can not be underestimated.
- While the expense of a neutering operation may seem overly burdensome, in the long run, it’s much more cost-effective than rearing an unexpected litter of pups! Aside from the 24/7 time that is required to care for puppies in their firsts few weeks, a litter of puppies can turn out to be very costly. Considering all the costs involved with the vet alone, for example, having them microchipped, vaccinated and treated for worms and fleas, medical costs can run well into the hundreds. That’s before considering any extra bedding and feeding costs or the time it takes to find the best forever homes for all the puppies.
- Any complications with a dog’s pregnancy or when she is giving birth will lead to an even greater financial burden being placed on you, in addition to the increased stress and upset for you both. More often than not, the complications that occur during pregnancy and birth can be life-threatening for the mum and extremely costly, something that needs to be given great consideration when deciding whether or not to neuter.
- There will also be a large financial cost associated with the treatment of any infections or diseases your dog might contract if they are not neutered. Many of the health risks mentioned previously can cost any where from a few hundred euro to well over the thousand mark, depending on the severity of the case.
- In 2019, Dogs Trust took in 15 litters (70 puppies) from individuals whose dogs had unplanned pregnancies and we took in a further 36 litters (145 puppies) from Local Authority pounds. Dogs Trust also cared for 22 pregnant mummy dogs during 2019, who gave birth to a total of 125 puppies.
- The Dog Control Statistics for 2018 indicated that a total of 9,626 stray and surrendered dogs entered Local Authority dog pounds across the country. This highlights the worrying issue Ireland is still facing with people taking on the responsibility of owning a dog without thinking about all aspects of responsible dog ownership, of which neutering plays a big part. The only way for society to contribute towards reducing the number of unwanted dogs in Ireland is to ensure that their dog does not have an unplanned litter of puppies.
- Dogs Trust always recommends that you discuss with your veterinary surgeon the best age for neutering your dog. Neutering is typically performed around 6 months old but this may vary depending on individual factors, such as your dog’s breed, current behaviour and health.
- Neutering dogs when they’re older does still offer benefits, however, Dogs Trust generally recommends that you neuter sooner rather than later. Every surgery carries risks, but older dogs and overweight dogs may be at increased risk of complications and in most cases surgery time, meaning an increased cost for you.
- Dogs Trust encourages every potential dog owner to take into consideration all the health, behavioural and financial factors associated with neutering before embarking on a lifelong commitment with a dog. Don’t act now and think later!