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Why Should You Neuter Your Dog Or Cat?

Vet Talks 4 min read
Two veterinarians in blue scrubs examining a Boston terrier dog. Why should you neuter your dog or cat

Neutering is a term used to refer to the removal of the testicles of a male pet. There are still many people who have doubts about neutering their pets. Some pet owners, especially men, feel like neutering is taking away their pet’s manhood, while many others are afraid of possible weight gain or personality changes. However, among the frequent doubts, there are many lies and, overall, there are so far more benefits than disadvantages for neutering dogs and cat. 

Why You Should Neuter Your Dog Or Cat: 

  • Reduce overpopulation
  • Decrease male aggressiveness, fighting with other tomcats, and roaming behavior
  • Lessen the likelihood of cat bite abscesses from fighting with other cats
  • Decrease the incidence of undesirable urination behaviors
  • Prevent propagation of puppies that might inherit certain defects or diseases
  • Prevent, eliminate, or remove tumors involving the testes or scrotum
  • Repair traumatic wounds when surgery may not be able to preserve the scrotum or testes
  • Control certain types of hormonal (endocrine) abnormalities
  • Help prevent the occurrence of perineal hernias in the older male (or recurrence of a hernia following surgical hernia repair)
  • Repair hernias involving the scrotum
  • Alleviate or prevent obstruction of the urethra from bladder stones

Will My Pet Gain Weight After Getting Neutered?

Some people say that a neutered dog or cat can get very fat after being neutered, but it is not true. As neutering your pet will change his hormone response, it may his appetite increase. However, the diet is controlled by the pet owner. So, avoiding giving a lot of treats is helpful to maintain the correct bodyweight of your pet. You also can enjoy a walk with your best friend. This kind of physical activity may help your little one to maintain his adequate bodyweight. 

What Age Can You Neuter A Cat Or Dog? 

The recommendation is to neuter as soon as vaccine shots are given.

For puppies and kittens, the recommendation is that the neuter is done as soon vaccine shots are given. At this point, the dog or cat should be around six months old. Neutering early is highly recommended because they do not have high hormone levels and the chances of developing diseases are even lower. For some veterinarians, this recommendation also varies according to the size of the pet: larger dogs may need more time to reach sexual maturity and, therefore, to be ready for neutering.

How Is The Neutering Procedure Done?

As neutering, or orchiectomy, is the surgical removal of testicles. An incision is made directly over the scrotum. For dogs with both testicles in the scrotum, a single incision is made in the skin just in front of the scrotum. If one or both testicles are in the abdomen (retained testicle or cryptorchidism), abdominal exploratory surgery is necessary. Another site where one or both testicles may be retained is under the skin near the last nipple or groin area of the abdomen. In these cases, an incision is made in the skin overlying the testicle.

No skin sutures are used for most routine scrotal castration for cats. External skin sutures may or may not be used when the testicles are removed from other locations. 

When neutering dogs, most incisions are closed with buried sutures to decrease the tendency for plucking. These sutures do not have to be removed. Scrotal ablation (removal of the scrotum and the testes) is necessary in some instances of cancer, trauma, or infection. 

Brown striped cat wearing an Elizabethan collar while standing on a table being examined by a vet wearing a white lab coat and latex gloves

How Do I Prepare My Pet For The Procedure?

Your veterinarian will instruct you to withhold food and sometimes water for a certain period, depending on the anesthesia to be used for the surgery. Most dogs undergoing elective neutering are healthy and require minimal laboratory testing. If neutering is done as part of therapy for another disease, a more involved diagnostic test may be done prior to castration.

What Are The Potential Complications?

Complications following neutering are uncommon. However, some of them can happen. For example:

  • Excessive licking may occur, and some types of restraint device such as Elizabethan collar is required to prevent trauma to the incision.
  • Some cats and dogs that are neutered because of roaming or behavioral problems have no significant improvement after neutering.
  • Similarly, the incidence of cat bit abscesses may not decrease noticeably.

How Should I Care For My Pet After Neutering?

For cats, it is advisable to avoid granular, clay, or clumping kitty litter for several days, until the scrotal incisions have healed.

If an abdominal surgery was done, the cat or dog should be kept quiet for 1-14 days or until the sutures have been removed. If possible, the cat or dog should be kept inside in a clean and dry environment until the incision has healed. No recheck visits may be needed if external suture were not used.

Supplements To Support Healing

Some supplements that are extremely helpful to help your furry friend in his postoperative care are Petomega 3, Turmeric, and Old Timer. They have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties and it also helps control pain that your little one may have after being neutered.

If your furry friend is on prescribed medication, Milk Thistle may be helpful to protect his kidneys and liver against the side effects of the medications. If you’re not sure which supplements are right for your furkiddo, our pet experts are always here to chat with you.

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.

Published: March 24, 2021

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