(Neutering Of The Male Pet)
Neutering means removing the reproductive organs. In males, these are the testicles and the procedure is called castration. Most often in veterinary practice, this surgical procedure is performed on dogs and cats, but it may also be applied to rabbits, rats, squirrels, and many of the other male animals which are housed as pets in our homes. The discussion below applies to those pets as well, but for more information on surgery for those specific animals, please contact our hospital.
- Castration may be performed for many reasons, including population control and treatment of certain medical and behavioral problems. Medical problems that may be prevented or resolved by castration include testicular cancer, prostatic disease, certain hernias, and some skin diseases. Behavioral problems that may resolve include roaming, attraction to females, and certain dominant, aggressive attitudes.
- Castration is a surgical procedure. It is performed with animals under general anesthesia, and animals suffer less pain during recovery because we use pain relieving medications following surgery. In dogs, a small incision is made through the skin in front of the scrotum, both testicles are removed, and the incision is closed with sutures or surgical staples. In cats, two tiny incisions are made in the scrotum; each testicle is removed separately, and the incisions are not sutured. Cats can usually go home the same day, while dogs usually can go home the following day. Recovery is generally fast. Most cats are back to normal within 1 or 2 days, and can use their regular litter in the litter box after 1 week. During that period, male cats are allowed to use a paper litter product rather than normal litter to prevent problems associated with the surgical incision site. Restrict your dog’s activity for 2 or 3 days; most dogs behave normally within 4 or 5 days.
- Swelling of the scrotum normally occurs after surgery. This may make it look as though the testicles are still in the scrotum, even though they have been removed. The swelling should go away after several days. It is very important to prevent your pet from damaging the incision site by licking at the area. If it becomes a problem, this can be prevented with the use of an Elizabethan collar or certain distasteful medications that may be obtained from your veterinarian.
- Occasionally, one or both testicles do not descend from the abdomen into the scrotum after birth, a condition called cryptorchidism. A cryptorchid testicle may be found in the abdomen or under the skin in the groin area. Cancer is common in undescended testicles, and they should always be removed. Also, cryptorchid dogs should not be used for breeding because the problem is inherited.
Advantages of Castration
- A castrated pet is usually a happier, healthier pet.
- Castrated dogs do not develop testicular cancer and run a lower risk than uncastrated dogs of developing some other forms of cancer.
- Castrated dogs have few prostate problems, which are extremely common in older, intact (not castrated) dogs.
- Castrated dogs and cats are less likely to roam and produce unwanted litters.
- Castrated animals fight less with other male dogs and cats.
- Castrated dogs are less likely to act aggressively toward people.
- Castrated cats are less likely to spray urine to mark their territory (including your belongings). The urine of intact male cats has a strong, unpleasant odor that disappears after castration.
Answers to Common Questions
- Castration will NOT make your dog or cat fat and lazy unless she is overfed.
- Castration may change some objectionable behaviors, but only if they are associated with male hormones. Learned behaviors will not change due to castration alone. Consult your veterinarian.
- Castration will NOT change your pet’s personality. Cats’ personalities do not fully develop until about 1 year of age, and dogs’ between 1 and 2 years. If your pet’s personality changes after castration at an early age, it would have changed without surgery.
General Care Following Surgery
- For a castration (neuter), the best age for dogs and cats is between 6 months.
- Make sure your pet has no intestinal parasites (worms) and has had all necessary vaccinations before surgery.
- Do not feed your pet for 12 hours before admittance for surgery. Water is withheld for a few hours.
- Restrict your pet’s activity for 1 week after surgery.
- Your pet should be brought to the hospital for recheck examination and suture removal (if skin sutures were used) 10 to 14 days after surgery.
- Check your pet’s incision daily for abnormalities.
- If there are any questions, or if you see something concerning your pet after surgery that concerns you, contact your veterinarian.
- Notify your veterinarian if the following occur:
- Your pet removes sutures or otherwise irritates the incision by licking or chewing
- The incision appears red or swollen, or drainage from the incision is seen.
- The scrotum is extremely swollen or swelling remains after 3 to 5 days.
- Your pet’s urine is bloody.
- Your pet vomits or refuses to eat, or seems depressed after the first day home.
Remember that millions of dogs and cats are put to sleep annually in this country because of overpopulation. Neutering your pet and encouraging your friends to do so helps to solve this terrible problem.