August 18, 2007 by Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM
There are many sound medical reasons for considering neutering or spaying, I’ve listed these in no particular order, but please honestly consider the information. I did select excerpts from many web site sources, most medical, a few from individual’s & organization websites. In some instances, I’ve put information pertaining to the same category together from varied sources.
These are some of the best sources of information that I could find:
Traditionally neutering is done around six months of age, because that is the age of puberty in dogs. Many groups have shown an interest in neutering earlier for a variety of reasons. Recent studies have shown that there is no harm in neo-natal neutering, the only long-term effect is that the growth plates of the bones close later which results in a larger or taller dog. There is essentially no difference in anesthetic risk. It is healthiest if neutering takes place after a puppy received at least two of its vaccinations to provide best immunity for most puppy hood diseases. Contrary to popular belief, castration of a male dog does not “break his spirit”… worldwide, it is probably the most common routine surgery done in animal hospitals. Neutering does not promote any undesirable physical or emotional impact on the dog. Neutering operations remove the source of testosterone, which leads to problematic, and often life-threatening health issues, as wells as undesired behavioral problems.
Here are the MEDICAL REASONS; there are also many other good and valid reasons to neuter. Testosterone is a very powerful anabolic steroid with many short and long-term effects. Here is a list of some of the medical conditions influenced by the presence of Testosterone.
1) Prostate effects
- Benign Prostatic hypertrophy – a gross enlargement of the prostate gland, as occurs in human men. In the dog this enlargement does not cause difficulty in urination but may create serious constipation.
- Primary Prostatic Carcinoma – a highly metastatic form of cancer, which is usually fatal.
- Generalized Noninfectious Prostatitis – an acute inflammation of the prostate, which causes pain on urination and is usually accompanied by hematuria, blood in the urine.
- *Prostatic Abscess – either single or multiple micro abscesses, this is an infection of the gland caused by bacteria. The gland is more susceptible to infection when under the influence of testosterone.
2) Hernias – There are a number of hernias caused by Testosterone, they include: Scrotal hernias, inguinal hernias (in the groin), and perineal hernias (the area next to the tail). These hernias all require surgical correction. These hernias can be severe and life threatening especially if an organ becomes entrapped in the hernia.
3) Cancer – numerous cancers have been directly associated with testosterone, they include: Sertoli Cell tumors, Leydig Cell tumors, Perianal adenocarcinoma, Seminomas and interstitial cell tumors. Also Primary Prostatic Carcinoma, as above, all require surgery and some may also require Radiation and/or Chemotherapy as well.
4) Infections – Brucellosis is the worst, it has only slight chronic signs in the dog but causes abortion in the bitch. Balanoposthitis a chronic infection of the prepuce and penis, inside the sheath, this is the dog that is dripping droplets of pus from the opening of the prepuce (or sheath).
- Paraphimosis – the inability to resolve an erection, the penis is stuck in an erectile condition and is very painful.
- Perianal and Rectal fistulas – infected tracts from the rectum to an opening near the anus, which is usually draining blood, pus and feces. This is a particularly nasty condition and usually requires a board certified surgeon. The treatment may require removal of the anus and or rectum and the dog may experience fecal incontinence afterwards.
Most of the above conditions are preventable by neutering your dog. Every man who owns a dog should read this and consider if he wants to put his dog through this. It has been proven that neutered dogs live longer, healthier, and happier lives. We should not anthropomorphize. That is to attribute human emotions apply to them, a dog doesn’t care whether it has been fixed or not. For those who are worried about the cosmetics, there are prosthetic implants, Neuticles tm, which can be placed in the scrotum at the time of neutering
Contrary to popular belief, there are no medical, emotional or sociological reasons for a male dog to sire, or female birth “just one litter”. A misinformation and/or misguidance may lead one to believe that “having just one litter” is somehow good for the dog psychologically or medically. And the emotional or educational benefit to your children to experience the birth, and care taking of a litter of pups should be a very carefully analyzed proposition. Will your children accompany you to the animal shelter when you drop off those last six puppies you “just weren’t able to find homes for”? If you do choose to allow your dog or cat to have a litter, please be certain that there are committed pet caretakers waiting and wanting to provide a home for them. Don’t contribute to the pathetic destruction of tens of thousands of animals euthanized yearly in pounds and shelters. You do have the power and intelligence to make a difference.
GOOD REASONS TO SPAY/NEUTER YOUR PET
- Spayed and neutered pets are less likely to run away from home. (minimize roaming) Fact:Males neutered early in life are less aggressive toward other males and are not distracted by females in heat. Therefore, a neutered male will be less tempted to leave your property and cross that dangerous highway searching for a mate. And neutered males are also less likely to mark every one of your (or your neighbor’s) expensive shrubs with his urine as well as inside the house. Decreased roaming- Especially common in males, roaming tendencies expose dogs to many possibilities of trauma and disease that they would not normally be exposed to such as dog fights, automobile trauma, and contagious diseases such as Canine Parvo Virus which is ubiquitous in the environment.
- Spayed and neutered pets are less likely to fight with other animals, thus saving themselves much pain and their owners a high veterinary bill. (minimize aggressive behaviors) Decreased aggression- Intergender aggression is common in dogs- especially among males. Wounds caused by dogfights can easily be as severe as those caused by automobiles. They are usually much more severe in the deeper tissues than the surface wounds indicate.
- Spayed and neutered pets are less distracted by sexual instincts and become easier to train. Easier domestication- Dogs that are neutered early in life are more easily trained than their intact counterparts. They are not as easily distracted during training and males tend to not be bothered as much when there is a female dog in heat in the area.
- Spayed and neutered dogs are usually more reliable “watch dogs” and more responsive to family members because they are less distracted by sexual instincts. The truth is that male dogs are usually better pets if they are neutered. They have less desire to roam, to mark territory (including furniture), or to exert dominance over family members. Another plus is that they won’t be inclined to ‘scent-mark’ their territory (in other words, lift a leg) in forbidden areas, or be inclined to sexually molest people’s legs, furniture, other pets, etc.
- Neutered male pets are less likely to suffer infections or disorders in the prepuce or prostate glands. (some of which they can get from mating- Transmissible Venereal Tumors, and Brucella) Prostate disease- Like their human counterparts, it has been said that intact (un-neutered) males have an increased likelihood to develop prostatic tumors and infections, as they get older. These problems are uncommonly found in males neutered early in life. Testicular disease- Tumors such as Sertoli cell tumors and Seminomas are found in the testicles more commonly in dogs that are older. Also diseases such as testicular abscesses would be not be possible in a neutered dog. They are also healthier pets: no testicles means, no testicular cancer, which is not uncommon among aging intact male dogs.
- Humanitarian reasons for the operations, the prime one being that your pet will not accidentally add to the overpopulation problem that results in so many helpless, unwanted dogs being put to death in animal shelters each year.
These numbers are in the millions. It is your responsibility to be sure that you don’t allow your dog to contribute to the problem, through some notion, about preserving your dog’s sexual rights. While many pet owners feel that it is nice to let the pet have one litter and for the family to witness such an event, they neglect to think about what is going to happen with puppies arrive. One walk through a local animal shelter will serve ample notice that more puppies are not in short supply on the planet. Pet overpopulation is a problem that has reached epic proportions.
The Numbers Are Staggering!
- In 6 years, one female dog and its offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies.
- In 7 years, one female cat and its young can produce 420,000 kittens.
- 70,000 puppies and kittens are born every day in the USA alone. Compared to only 10,000 human births, it’s clear that there will never be enough homes for all these animals.
- Almost 8,000,000 dogs and cats are euthanized each year because there are no homes for them
In addition, here’s more info on both why/why not to breed
Five Common Excuses for Not Spaying or Neutering Pets:
- My pet will get fat and lazy.
Neutering or spaying may diminish your pet’s overall activity level, natural tendency to wander, and hormonal balances, which may influence appetite. Pets that become fat and lazy after being altered usually are overfed and do not get enough exercise.
- We want another pet just like Rover and Fluffy.
Breeding two purebred animals rarely results in offspring that are exactly like one of the parents. With mixed breeds, it is virtually impossible to have offspring that are exactly like one of the parents.
- My pet’s personality will change.
Many changes will be for the better. After being altered, your pet will be less aggressive toward other dogs or cats, have a better personality, and will be less likely to wander. Spraying (urine marking), often done by dogs and cats to mark their territory, diminishes or ceases after pets are altered. I’ve never heard of an animal that changed for the worse.
- We can sell puppies or kittens and make money.
Even well known breeders are fortunate if they break even on raising purebred litters. The cost of raising such a litter — which includes stud fees, vaccinations and other health care costs, and feeding a quality food — consumes most of the “profit.” Well-known breeders raise breeds that they like. These breeders also try to improve the standard of the breeds they raise.
- My children should witness our pet giving birth.
Pets often have their litters in the middle of the night or in a place of their own choosing. Because pets need privacy when giving birth, any unnecessary intrusion can cause the mother to become seriously upset. These intrusions can result in an unwillingness to care for the offspring or in injury to the owners or to the pet.
AKC registration is not an indication of quality, and neither is the presence of champions in the pedigree. Very few dogs have the outstanding qualities necessary for breeding. Each puppy you produce should be an improvement over the parents. You may feel your dog is perfect, but is it a model for the future of the breed? Read the standard for your breed, and show your dog in competition to see how it measures up to others. Research the common health problems in your breed and discuss testing for genetic defects with your veterinarian.
“I plan on making enough money to recoup my investment in this dog.”
Experienced breeders will tell you that they often lose money due to stud fees, veterinary care, food, advertising, and time spent caring for the mother and litter. They all place enormous demands on your resources. Responsible breeders spend a lifetime learning about the bloodlines, genetics, and history of their breed. And this still doesn’t guarantee a market for the puppies.
RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS ARE WORKING TO IMPROVE THEIR BREED, NOT PROFIT FROM IT.
- Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM