So much fun bringing home a mischievous bundle of fur. If you are teaching your pup to sit down and tickle his or her stomach, the thought that he has a litter of his own is unlikely to cross your mind.
However, depending on their breed size, puppies can reach sexual maturity from around 6-7 months to 18 months, and therefore potentially get pregnant earlier than you might otherwise have noticed! As a new dog owner, you need to consider whether or not your dog should breed relatively early. Neutering your dog will help him avoid unplanned pregnancies and can have a number of other health, behavioral, and social benefits. There are some downsides, however, and depending on your pup, these may outweigh the benefits of spaying and neutering, even if you don’t want to breed from them. Your veterinary office should be able to help you decide what is best for your pup.
What is castration?
Castration is a common surgery that surgically prevents pets from reproducing by removing some or all of the reproductive organs. In male puppies, this means removing the testicles and is known as “castration”. For women, the procedure involves removing their ovaries and sometimes the uterus and is known as “spaying”.
In male dogs, neutering is usually minimally invasive, unless the dog’s testicles have not fallen. If your dog’s testicles have not fallen off by 6 to 9 months of age, they will need to be examined by your veterinarian. These dogs should not be bred.
In bitches, castration is a little more invasive than in men. It can be done through an incision along your abdomen to remove the ovaries and uterus. Alternatively, some vets Practices offer the option of spaying via keyhole surgery, which is less invasive and can speed recovery time. However, the decision as to which approach to take should be based on a discussion with your veterinarian.
Both operations are performed under general anesthesia. As with any surgical procedure, they are associated with low risk, but techniques and monitoring during anesthesia minimize the risks as much as possible. This also means your puppy will not experience any discomfort during the procedure. Pain relief and anti-inflammatories are also provided by the veterinarian’s office at the time of the procedure, and you will often also be given some to take home as part of your pup’s aftercare. You will usually also have a post-operative check-up or two on your puppy, a veterinarian, or a veterinarian nurse. This will allow them to monitor healing and remove stitches at the right time if stitches have been placed on bitches.
If you are considering neutering your puppy, your veterinarian is your best source for reliable information and advice. They can answer any questions you might have about the procedure, possible side effects, the cost of neutering a puppy, and much more.
There may be reasons why you would prefer not to have your dog surgically neutered. In these cases, it is also possible to give injections and tablets, which can prevent your dog from breeding. This avoids surgery and allows your pet to breed later in life if desired. However, the treatment must be carried out regularly. There is some risk of side effects and there are ongoing costs, but this may be a preferred option for some dogs. Your vet can provide more information on this option.
When should I neuter my puppy?
Depending on the size of the breed, your dog or bitch will reach sexual maturity in around 6-7 months to 18 months. The best age to be neutered is a controversial issue and differs depending on the size and breed of your dog.
If you want to avoid unwanted pregnancies, it may be better to neuter your puppy at a younger age. For women, castration can be carried out before the first season. However, some vets recommend waiting longer. Especially with larger breeds, especially male dogs, it may be recommended to wait until they are fully mature.
There are no clear indications as to the optimal approach, however, and you should discuss with your veterinarian what is best for your individual pup.
What are the pros and cons of neutering my puppy?
There are a number of health, behavioral, and social reasons why neutering your puppy may be advisable and likely to be of benefit to him and you. While there are many advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages, and neutering may not be an appropriate choice for every dog. The benefits of the procedure also vary by gender.
For a male puppy:
- Castration prevents testicular tumors and reduces the risk of prostate cancer and other prostate diseases.
- Castration can reduce the natural aggressive impulses and have other positive effects on behavior. However, this is not the case with every puppy and it can make fear of aggression worse. If you feel that your puppy is exhibiting problematic behaviors, it is advisable to discuss the pros and cons of neutering with your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist before neutering
- Spaying and neutering can help prevent your dog from straying from home in search of a woman or approaching women on walks in a season.
- Castration can improve the behavior of scent/area marking and try to mate with objects/people.
- However, neutering tends to decrease the pet’s metabolism, which means your puppy may be more prone to weight gain after neutering.
- There are also links between castration and an increased risk of developing disc disease (in miniature dachshunds), joint disease (particularly in golden retrievers), and some cancers (in different breeds). This seems to be influenced by both the age of the castration and the breed.
For a female puppy:
- Spaying and neutering will make them less likely to develop breast cancer.
- Spaying prevents uterine and ovarian cancer, as well as other life-threatening uterine infections like pyometra, which are relatively common and can be fatal in older, non-castrated bitches.
- Neutering eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancy. This is a significant responsibility of having to care for and raise your dog during pregnancy and after their puppies are born. Spaying is also especially important if your pet has a congenital health condition to prevent them from breeding and passing them on to their pups.
- Spaying also eliminates the risk of phantom pregnancies.
- Bitches in heat can cause bloody discharge for up to three weeks, which can be uncomfortable for many owners
- However, neutering tends to lower the pet’s metabolism, which means that your puppy may be more prone to weight gain after neutering.
- Spaying can increase the risk of urinary incontinence in women. Most women respond well to medication as this develops.
- There are links between castration and an increased risk of developing disc disease (in miniature dachshunds), joint disease (especially in golden retrievers), and some cancers (in different breeds). This seems to be influenced by both the age of the castration and the breed.
How do I get my puppy neutered?
Make an appointment with your veterinarian to have your puppy neutered. You may need to take your puppy for a checkup before surgery.
Your veterinarian will ask you not to feed your puppy for a few hours before it is anesthetized, usually starting the night before.
Usually, you will be asked to take your puppy to the vet in the morning and you should be able to pick him up later in the day.
If you want to spay and neuter your puppy but can’t afford the cost, contact your local animal welfare organization as many organizations offer financial assistance to help cover the cost of neutering a puppy.
What aftercare does my puppy need after neutering?
Recovery tips after castration:
- Stay close to your pup for the first night after surgery.
- Your puppy may whine or whine as it recovers from the numbness. Don’t worry – this could only be because you are disoriented. However, if it takes longer, contact your veterinarian.
- Puppies can sometimes experience an upset stomach as an adverse side effect of the anesthetic. Your vet may recommend a post-operative recovery diet that you can take home and feed your pup for the first few meals after surgery. A mild diet like this can help minimize the chances of an upset stomach.
- Make sure that all follow-up medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relief are given by your veterinarian.
- Your veterinarian may do post-operative exams to monitor your pet’s recovery a few days after surgery.
- Your puppy can go outside the day after his surgery, but keep him on a leash until he has fully recovered and is cleared after the post-operative examination.
- To prevent your puppy from licking or scratching their surgery site, they may need to wear a buster collar for up to 10 days after surgery. If your pup finds this very uncomfortable, a t-shirt may be a more appropriate option. Buster collars or cones are often removed when your puppy is eating.
- If keyhole surgery has not been performed on women, your puppy will have an incision on the stomach with a few stitches. This wound should be checked regularly to make sure it is clean and healing well.
- To protect your puppy’s stings and give him time to heal, keep him from jumping and keep him on a leash until he gets the all-clear from the vet. If non-detachable stitches are used, your veterinarian will provide a date when they should be removed. This is usually around 7-10 days after the procedure. Males usually do not need outside stitches.
What changes can I expect after neutering?
Sometimes castration is associated with weight gain due to the hormonal changes that take place after castration. They can help them stay fit with regular exercise and proactively switch them to low-calorie or “light” foods to prevent weight gain after castration. Alternatively, you may prefer to reduce your caloric intake by reducing the food percentage by 10%. In this case, your pet shouldn’t gain weight. Read our Fit and Healthy Information for more guidance.