Health & Care

How Neutering Changes Your Dog

best time to neuter a dog

Neutering is a simple way to sterilize your dog so that he can’t have puppies. While it may seem like you’re taking something away, it’s actually a healthy thing to do for dogs because it can prevent certain diseases and bad behaviors.

In addition, if you have other dogs that are neutered, you wouldn’t want to have a un-neutered dog in the same house.

You may also mean to spay your pet if you have a female dog. Neutering and spaying are two different procedures based on the genitals of your pet. Neuter surgery is more simple than a spay.

It’s important to know when to spay or neuter your dog to avoid health problems. Most vets recommend that you wait for a longer period of time before you give your dog the snip.

Best Time to Neuter a Dog

Male dogs can be neutered, according to veterinarians, at any time after eight weeks of age. However, some veterans and the AKC advise that you should wait until after a dog reaches puberty, which is at about six months.

Some dogs experience orthopedic health problems which can be prevented by timing neutering at the right age. You should talk to your veterinarian about what he or she thinks would work best for your dog breed.

In general, there are some medical studies that show dogs that are neutered before puberty will grow to be a bit larger than those who are neutered after puberty.

This is due to testosterone and bone growth. In some cases, it doesn’t matter, and you won’t mind a dog that’s slightly large. Most dogs are also sexually mature by six months, so it’s important to consider how that affects your dog as well.

If your dog’s testicles haven’t descended, then you won’t need to have the dog neutered. This is referred to as cryptorchidism. Dogs with this problem tend to have more tumors in their testicles, however.

If you neuter a dog later on in life, such as when they are adult age, then they may have complications from surgery.

This is also true for dogs who are seniors, overweight, or who are in poor health. You should always talk about these risks with your veterinarian before committing to the surgery.

How Neutering Works

Neutering your dog is a simple procedure that only takes about an hour to complete. The veterinarian will place your dog under anesthesia.

Once your dog is completely unconscious, an incision is made at the front of the scrotum. The vet then cuts the stalks away to remove the testicles through the incision.

In most cases, your dog will have stitches and a cone collar, or what is known as “the cone of shame.” This is to prevent your pooch from licking and infecting the area.

The cone is worn for about two weeks until the incision heals. After that, your dog will be back to normal.

Spaying vs Neutering

These are two different procedures to sterilize male and female dogs. A spay is actually an ovariohysterectomy, which is a procedure performed by a veterinarian on a female dog.

It requires general anesthesia. The procedure removes the female dog’s uterus and the ovaries through a small incision in the abdomen. Spaying can also use laparoscopic procedures.

With neutering, you are removing the testicles of the male dog through a small incision. Typically, this will leave a flap of skin that flattens over time.

Both procedures must be performed by a veterinarian under anesthesia, which means that your dog will likely need to have blood work.

Spay and neuter surgeries do not typically take longer. Your dog will probably be able to go home with you within an hour or two, depending on the size of your dog.

Why Do People Choose to Neuter Their Dog?

The main benefit of neutering a male dog comes from overpopulation and unwanted puppies. Many dogs accidentally have puppies because it’s hard to understand their cycles around each other.

In other cases, you could want to prevent certain health risks, such as cancer and mammary tumors. If your dog has behavior problems, then spaying and neutering may resolve these as well. However, you should ask your vet to confirm.

You may not even realize that your dog is pregnant, and most litters do wind up at the shelter. Most shelters neuter dogs so that they won’t sire any more puppies. However, there are other health benefits, including the following:

  • Some dog breeds are susceptible to testicular cancer and prostate diseases. In these breeds, you probably will neuter after a certain age.
  • Most dogs are calmer after being neutered. This is due to the lack of testosterone.
  • Your dog may mark less inside and outside of the home as he doesn’t feel the need to spread his scent as part of territorial instincts.
  • If you have issues with your dog’s aggression, such as that he is aggressive towards other dogs and humping, neutering can be a way to take away dominance behaviors. While your dog still may want to be the biggest dog in the room, it’s more about testosterone and alpha traits.
  • Dogs tend to lose their aggressive nature after being neutered. This could lead to fewer fights with other big dogs, which is another alpha-related trait.
  • Older male dogs are susceptible to prostate cancer. Your vet may recommend that you neuter an older dog if there are signs of prostate cancer or if the breed is at risk.
  • These benefits change depending on the age and size of your puppy. Your dog may still display alpha traits or want to mark even as an older dog if you didn’t neuter at the 6-month mark.

How to Prepare Your Dog for Surgery

Neutering isn’t major surgery. There may be some pre-surgical blood work to make sure that your dog is healthy for surgery and isn’t allergic to the anesthesia.

There are certain health conditions that may prevent your dog from having certain medications, which is why blood work is almost always necessary.

Your clinic will give you directions on what to do before the surgery. Typically, your dog may not be allowed to eat 8 hours before the surgery due to the anesthesia. Otherwise, it could cause nausea.

Dogs are allowed to drink water typically before surgery, but you may want to check with your vet just in case.

What to Expect After Neutering Your Dog

For post-operative care, your doctor will probably prescribe some pain meds, and if your dog has any issues with poor breathing or appetite, he may also be prescribed antibiotics and steroids.

This is only in cases where the dog is older, but he needs surgery to prevent certain types of cancer.

These are some things to keep in mind after your dog’s surgery:

  • Male dogs will be able to go home the same day after being neutered. It typically only takes an hour.
  • There might be some nausea after surgery due to pain medication and drowsiness. It’s okay if your dog misses 1 or 2 meals following surgery, but you should watch him carefully if he doesn’t eat after 24 hours.
  • For the first 72 hours after surgery, your dog will have a swollen abdomen. Your dog will have to wear a cone collar to keep him from licking and causing damage to his stitches.
  • You can always take the cone off if you think he’ll be distracted enough to prevent licking, but usually, you’ll need the cone for the first week after the surgery.
  • Some neutering surgeries don’t require any stitches. If you do have stitches, then you’ll take your dog back to the vet about a week after the surgery. Your vet should give you a guide on how to check that the stitches have healed and when to come back for the final check-up. Some stitches do fall out on their own.
  • Most dogs feel better by the next day, but they won’t be fully ready to rough house or head to the dog park. You should allow the incision to heal for a few days before letting your dog get completely comfortable in the muddy outdoors.
  • After being neutered, your pup’s scrotum will look swollen and may have some bruising. However, it will flatten after a few weeks and as he grows up. You won’t notice it after a few months.

Complications After Neutering

With any surgery that involves an incision, you have to be careful to monitor the wound and check that there isn’t any discharge. If you do see puss or your dog looks like he’s in extreme pain, then you may need to check with your vet.

If your dog is limping or generally not being his old self after the first day, then you should definitely call your vet to see if he needs pain medication or antibiotics.

With dogs, you also have to be careful that they don’t try to pull out the stitches. This is why dogs must wear a cone collar after surgeries in most cases.

However, dogs can also rub their abdomen on the carpet and outside to itch or remove the stitches. It’s important to watch your dog carefully after surgery to prevent any kind of open stitches or further bruising.

If anything does concern you, then call your vet right away. Most dogs are up and about within hours after the surgery. Many do not even need pain medication because the incision is quite small.

However, if you notice that your dog is especially lethargic or whining in considerable pain, you should get your dog to the vet so that he can get a check-up.

How Much Does it Cost to Neuter a Dog

Since veterinaries have different rates in certain regions, it’s difficult to say what the costs will be. Some areas also have programs where you can get vouchers to offset the cost of your dog’s neutering.

These would be provided by ASPCA and other sponsored organizations that shelter dogs. Still, with today’s need for anesthesia and blood work, there are some veterinary offices that charge several hundred dollars for the procedure.

While that’s not always the case, you should be prepared to pay at least $100 for neuter. Here’s one tip from a dog owner:

  • Check with local animal shelters about their spay and neuter programs. Most cities have a program that may offer a discounted or free spay and neuter.
  • You can look at programs like SpayUSA.org and ASPCA to find out more information and apply for vouchers.

Is It Illegal to Reneg on Neutering?

If you changed your mind about spaying or neutering your dog according to breeder requirements, then you don’t have to worry. No one can force you to legally spay or neuter your dog except if you live in a certain city, according to AVMA.

However, some regions do have mandatory spay and neuter laws. In these areas, such as Los Angeles, you can be served a fine for breeding animals.

These are enforced by an ordinance so it’s difficult to get caught unless you are a breeder operating illegally inside the city limits.

Final Word

If you are thinking about spaying or neutering your dog, then you should also consider what it will achieve. While it’s simply a good thing to do if you’re worried about overpopulation, your dog may not need to be neutered if other problems can be solved through dog training and obedience school.

Some behaviors such as marking won’t go away just because you get your dog neutered. In these cases, you should check with your vet if there are other ways to calm down aggressive behaviors before choosing to neuter your dog.

Once you decide to neuter, your dog’s life probably won’t change that much. However, some breeds are very different after this procedure.

This veterinary explains all the reasons why or why not to get your dog neutered:

1 Comment

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