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Dog Neutering and Spaying

ennis-vet-clinic-neuteringSurgical neutering is considered part of responsible dog ownership, not only to prevent unwanted litters of puppies but to prevent various health issues from occurring in your dog.

Dogs, by their very nature, are pack animals with strong instincts to form a hierarchy or “pecking-order”. Within each group, one dog will aspire to become top dog. Usually this is an adult male; he is followed in the hierarchy by other males, these by adult females, with puppies at the bottom.

Conflict within a hierarchy develops when there is competition for places, when a new dog arrives in the area, when puppies reach adulthood or where there are bitches “in season”.

Generally it is at these times of conflict that certain undesirable aspects of canine behaviour become apparent.

For behavioural and medical reasons, surgical neutering can be the answer.

Male Dogs

Surgical neutering of male dogs involves removal of both testicles (castration). Patients are allowed home the same day, and have sutures removed after 7 days.

  • Neutering reduces the tendency for male dogs to roam after bitches in season. The bitch’s scent is powerful and can attract many male dogs in a city.
  • Neutering reduces the tendency for male dogs to show aggression towards other dogs and humans. It is for this reason that neutering is one of the requirements for breeds covered by the “Dangerous Dogs Act”.
  • Neutering reduces the tendency for male dogs to display overtly sexual behaviour :- mounting of other dogs/ cushions/ humans or excessive urine marking of territory (outdoors or indoors).
  • Middle-aged and old male dogs are prone to such medical conditions as :- Prostate enlargement or cancer, Testicular cancers,  Anal adenomas (anal cancer)


Bitches (Female Dogs)

Neutering or spaying of bitches involves a full ovariohysterectomy, where the whole reproductive tract is removed. Patients are allowed home the same day and have their sutures removed / checked after seven days.

  • Neutering not only stops bitches from having puppies but stops them coming into season. Bitches have, on average, two seasons each year until old age. Each season lasts between two and three weeks.
  • A bitch in season can cause considerable inconvenience :-
  • Attractiveness to male dogs means that she must be exercised away from public areas.
  • Many bitches spot blood for 10 – 14 days during each season.
  • Boarding kennels are less welcoming!
  • Neutering prevents the condition known as false pregnancy. This develops about eight to twelve weeks after a season even though no mating has taken place. A bitch may build a nest, mother soft toys, and even produce milk from enlarged mammary glands. It is a hormonal upset that may take several weeks to resolve and is likely to recur after subsequent seasons.
  • Neutering prevents a life-threatening condition of the womb called pyometra. This can occur from middle-age and is most common in bitches that have not had puppies. The cure is an emergency hysterectomy (with considerable anaesthetic risks).
  • Neutering considerably reduces the tendency to develop mammary tumours (Breast Cancer). Neutering prior to the bitch’s first season reduces this likelihood by 250 times.

Dog overpopulation is a problem

Every year, thousands of unwanted dogs are put to sleep at shelters across the country. Many of these are the result of accidental breeding by free-roaming, un-neutered dogs. The more dogs spayed or neutered, the fewer will have to be destroyed.

Potential Concerns

My dog will get fat and lazy

Neutering may diminish your dog’s natural tendency to wander, but will not affect overall activity levels. Neutered dogs have a slightly reduced calorie requirement that should be taken into account when feeding. When dogs do gain weight after being spayed, it is usually attributed to a combination of overfeeding and lack of exercise. Our post-operative care will include discussing feeding plans for your dog post neutering and how to maintain their exercise regime.

We can sell the puppies and make money

Even well known breeders are fortunate if they break even raising pure-bred litters – and that is dependent on getting a pure-bred bitch to a stud dog before she becomes pregnant to an unknown wanderer. The cost of raising such a litter (which includes stud fees, vaccinations and other health-care costs) offsets most of the profit. Finding good homes for these puppies can be difficult, and shelters are already crowded with unwanted dogs. It’s best to leave breeding to professional dog breeders.

I am concerned about my dog undergoing anaesthesia

The medical benefits of having your dog spayed or neutered far outweigh the slight risk involved in undergoing anaesthesia. We always operate with safety in mind as we understand that surgical procedures can be a frightening prospect for both you and your pet. We adhere to the highest standards of practice to ensure that your pet is safe in our care while undergoing a surgical procedure. We use a gold standard anaesthesia protocol, including pre-operative pain relief and gaseous anaesthesia. Our qualified veterinary nurse will track your pet’s vital signs throughout the anaesthetic and ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery once the procedure is over. We will always administer the most up to date pain relief for your pet, ensuring that they will be treated just as you would like to be treated, with respect, compassion and freedom from pain.

Before and after the operation

We recommend you withhold food and water from your dog for 12 hours before the operation. Once the operation is over your pet will rest comfortably in our dog ward, and we will offer some warmed soft food as well as warm bedding. It is standard procedure to discharge in-patients post neutering and spaying on the same day.

After the operation we provide ‘after-care’ instructions for you. In most cases dogs should be restricted to short walks, on a lead only, for a few days, kept quiet and prevented from jumping, or biting at their sutures. We ask that you return in two days for a post-operative check, and at ten days for removal of skin sutures.

At Ennis Veterinary Clinic, we are in favour of all male and female dogs, unless intended for breeding, being surgically neutered. Please do not hestitate to contact us if you have any concerns and would like to discuss neutering/spaying your pet in more detail.

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