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Male dogs (castration)

Why do we recommend castration?

Reduces the risk of certain hernias arising later in life.

Entire male dogs are more likely to roam increasing the risk of loss, fighting injuries and road traffic accidents. Entire male dogs often demonstrate unwanted sexual behaviours, indoor urine marking and can be more aggressive towards other dogs when they become mature. Dogs become aggressive for many reasons and neutering does not always help. If you are worried about any aggressive tendencies your dog may be showing, we recommend a referral appointment with our consultant vet in behavioural medicine, Patricia Connolly. Finally, if neutered, male dogs are at less risk form certain diseases (e.g. prostate problems, testicular cancer (affects 10% of older entire male dogs), perineal hernias and anal adenomas (a benign form of cancer)). Benign prostatic hyperplasia occurs to some extent in 90% of older entire male dogs. In some cases, it can lead to blood in urine and constipation, necessitating treatment. Entire male dogs also get more serious prostate infections and complex cysts. Castration is usually recommended as part of the treatment for most serious prostatic diseases encountered in entire male dogs.  Prostate cancer is rare in dogs but is unresponsive to castration.

What are the disadvantages?

Complications associated with castrating dogs are uncommon and include the anaesthetic risk and the surgical risks (e.g. wound swelling & breakdown and haemorrhage). Thankfully, all our surgeons have a proven neutering track record, and the incidence of serious complications at Woodcroft Vets is very low. 

Dogs neutered before puberty have slightly delayed closure of growth plates and grow slightly larger than entire dogs. This does not seem to cause any significant problems.

Limited, recent research suggests that dogs of certain breeds, may have a slightly increased risk of developing certain joint problems or cancers than similar dogs, which are left entire. The risk appears to be small and has only been demonstrated in a few larger breeds of dog. This small risk is offset by the elimination of testicular cancer in neutered male dogs.  

Finally, once castrated, your dog will burn fewer calories, despite him remaining as active as ever. Castrated dogs are therefore prone to gaining weight. This can easily be prevented by providing fewer calories. This does not necessarily mean feeding less. We stock a complete range of Royal Canin life stage diets. The Royal Canin neutered dog diets are specially designed with the nutritional requirements of castrated dogs in mind.

When do we recommend castration?

We recommend neutering most male dogs/puppies at 6 months of age. However, we recommend delaying the neutering in large and giant breed dogs to 9-12 months and 12-18 months of age respectively.

We strongly recommend all puppies have an adolescent / six month check, prior to neutering, with one of our vets. If your dog has been vaccinated with us and is a member of Woodcroft Vets’ Pet Club, this check is free of charge. This is an ideal opportunity to examine your dog and to discuss any concerns you may have. We may identify additional problems that could be corrected under the same anaesthetic as the neutering procedure e.g. correction of an umbilical hernia or removal of deciduous teeth and hind limb dew claws. We can also discuss a range of preventative health care options. Membership of our Pet Club also entitles your dog to a 20% early neutering discount (ask us for more details).

What should I do next?

Please call your nearest branch for further details. Briefly, we recommend the process starts with your dog having a consultation with one of our vets. This allows us to make sure that your dog is healthy enough to undergo general anaesthesia and the operation. We will also check that both testicles are in the correct position and start planning the anaesthetic protocol, based on any special requirements your dog may have. This consultation is usually combined with our free adolescent health check, if your dog has had his primary vaccination course with us. If you are new to our practice, or we have not examined your dog recently, we will ask you to arrange a pre-op appointment to perform a general health check.

What happens on the day?

We will ask you to bring your dog to one of our clinics on the day of the operation between 8am and 9am (depending on the specific clinic opening times). Your dog should be starved from midnight, the night before. Free access to water should be allowed until the time you leave your house. It is important that food should be withheld to reduce the risk of anaesthetic complications. Please allow your dog to urinate and defecate prior to admission.

Once admitted to the clinic, your dog will be re-examined and, if requested, a pre-anaesthetic blood sample submitted for in house analysis. We will discuss any significant results with you prior to anaesthesia.  Before anaesthesia your dog will be given a premedicant. This will calm your dog, provide pre-emptive pain relief and reduce the anaesthetic doses subsequently used.

During the anaesthetic process we use the most advanced anaesthetic agents. These agents are short acting and so recovery times are usually short. Unfortunately, there are no safe anaesthetic drugs, only safe anaesthetists. All anaesthetic drugs depress the performance of the cardiovascular and breathing systems: monitoring and patient support are key for successful veterinary anaesthesia.

To this aim Woodcroft Vets staff have various tools to help monitor anaesthesia. A recent survey of general practice anaesthesia (CEPSAF study) concluded that many veterinary practices do not use monitoring devices. See our Anaesthetic Brochure for more details of our gold standard anaesthetic service.

During the surgery, the testicles are removed through a single incision just behind the prepuce.

After the procedure is completed, your dog will start to recover from anaesthesia soon after the anaesthetic is stopped. Your dog will be moved to a warm comfortable bed in the recovery area where the monitoring process is continued.

A recent survey identified the recovery time as an ‘at risk period’. We, at Woodcroft Veterinary Group, are fully aware of the risks associated with the recovery period: diligent anaesthetic monitoring is continued until your dog is fit enough to be moved to our hospital wards. 

Your dog may be provided with an Elizabethan collar to prevent him licking the wound and causing an infection. Your dog will be sent home with pain killing medication.

Usually your dog will be discharged on the same day as the procedure. Mild wooziness and a slight cough after the anaesthetic are not uncommon. A small light meal should be offered that evening. We provide Royal Canin’s sensitivity diet after all our anaesthetic procedures. This is an ideal diet for the first 12-24 hours after anaesthesia to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upsets.  Your dog should have a post operative check 3-4 days after surgery with one of our trained veterinary nurses. This examination is included in the cost of the procedure. If you are unsure about anything before or after this appointment, please feel free to contact us for advice.

Your dog should be completely rested for the first 1-2days after surgery. After this we advise lead only-walking until the sutures are removed 12 days after the operation (if necessary). During the first 2-3 weeks after surgery excessive play and vigorous exercise should be avoided. Wound complications may be more likely to occur if this advice is not adhered to. 

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