All About the Surgical Procedure to Neuter a Dog

Dog prepped for surgery

Enter a veterinary surgical suite in this photo collection to observe a dog neuter procedure, also known as a canine castration, being conducted. There's no need to dress up, put on a pair of sterile gloves, and put on a face mask. We'll keep you out of the sterile field while still letting you to have a close look at the dog neuter.

With a well-balanced anesthetic regimen and gas anesthesia, the dog is kept sleeping and pain-free throughout a canine castration. Many veterinarians additionally insert an intravenous catheter for IV fluid administration. During the operation, monitoring equipment is utilized to examine a pet's vital signs. Heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, and ECG measurements of the heart rhythm may all be tracked with monitoring equipment. Although a dog neuter is less intrusive than a canine spay, it is still a surgery, and male dogs should be given plenty of pain medication before, during, and after the process to ensure that they are as comfortable as possible.

Now that you know this male pup will experience minimal discomfort during his procedure, let’s scrub in and get ready to neuter a dog. 

  • 01 of 08

    Shaving and Scrubbing the Surgical Area

    Pre-op photo of a dog neuter surgery © Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM

    Surgical preparation can begin once the dog is sedated and connected up to the monitoring equipment. A single incision is performed just in front of the testicles and scrotum for a normal canine neuter. Cryptorchidism, or undescended testicles, requires a somewhat different surgery since the undescended testicle may be in the groin or belly, requiring an incision in one of these areas as well.

    A scrotal ablation may be performed during a dog neutering procedure in rare cases. The veterinarian will remove the scrotum as well as the testicles to avoid the scrotum from following surgery. Larger, older, more active dogs, as well as dogs with testicular or scrotal illnesses that necessitate scrotal removal for medical reasons, may be candidates for this treatment.

    This step-by-step photo collection depicts a standard canine neuter to make things easy. Because both testicles have fallen into the scrotum and the dog is young and petite, just one incision will be required. Hair is cut away from the impending incision site to ensure the surgical field is sterile. To guarantee that no hair sneaks into the surgical field, a broad margin of hair should be cut around the whole incision site.

    A veterinary technician or helper will clean the surgery area with a disinfectant solution once the hair has been trimmed and removed. Instead of cleaning from side to side, the vet tech will scrub outward from the incision site in a widening circular pattern. This keeps hair and debris out of the surgery region and keeps the incision site as clean as possible.

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  • 02 of 08

    Incising the Skin

    Surgery can commence when the surgical region has been cut, cleaned, and wrapped with sterile drapes. The single incision is made just in front of the scrotum in the skin. Rather than creating two separate incisions for each testicle, each testicle is pulled up and through the one incision. Because scrotal tissue is thin, sensitive, and bleeds more than skin, scrotal incisions are avoided. However, in extremely young pups, this procedure is sometimes utilized.

    There are two ways to do a dog neuter: open or closed.

    The vaginal tunic—the stiff membrane covering of the testicle and related structures—is incised in an open castration, making the spermatic cord visible. An open castration is preferable if the vessels are very big, as each component is tied off (ligated) independently to reduce bleeding and ligature slippage.

    In a closed castration, the tunic is not incised, and the spermatic cord and contained structures are ligated all at once, usually with two or three separate knots to prevent bleeding.

    This photo gallery demonstrates the closed castration method.

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  • 03 of 08

    Exteriorizing the Testicles

    The veterinarian carefully pulls the testicle up through the incision once the skin is incised. The vas deferens (spermatic cord), pampiniform plexus (vessels around the vas deferens), cremaster muscle, and vascular supply are all clamped together in this closed castration procedure. Clamping all vessels and structures stops bleeding and generates a 'crush mark,' or indentation, where the knots will be put to ensure they don't slip and are as tight as possible.

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  • 04 of 08

    Ligating the Vessels

    Before releasing all of the clamps, the veterinarian ties several knots, or ligatures, around the veins to prevent bleeding. The suture is made of a dissolvable substance that does not irritate the surrounding tissues over time and dissolves as the body recovers. There is always the possibility that the knot can slide and cause bleeding. Transfixing ligatures are a form of knot used to guarantee that the knot stays in place and does not slide, preventing bleeding. The testicle is removed once the vessels have been ligated, and the process is performed on the other testicle.

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  • 05 of 08

    Closing the Incision

    The veterinarian checks for bleeding before sealing the cut after ligating the veins and removing both testicles. If everything appears OK, seal the incision with the same dissolvable suture that was used to ligate the testicles.

    Multiple layers of tissue are used to seal the wound. The subcutaneous tissue is closed using internal sutures, and the skin margins are brought together with a second layer of sutures. To hide the last knot under the skin, some veterinarians put a drop of tissue adhesive to the wound. This method of closure prevents prickly stitches on the outside of the skin, which can cause dogs to lick and gnaw. If the circumstance calls for it, some veterinarians will employ skin sutures, which must be removed in 10 to 14 days.

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  • 06 of 08

    Checking the Surgical Incision

    This little dog's incision is less than an inch long. Because the incision is so tiny, bleeding and edema are generally minimal. The veterinarian inspects the spot after sealing the incision to verify the skin is correctly closed and there is no bleeding.

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  • 07 of 08

    Applying Tissue Glue

    A drop of tissue glue may be used at the end of the incision, where the final knot of suture material is buried under the skin.

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  • 08 of 08

    Recovering from Anesthesia

    The dog is ready to be awakened from anesthesia after the incision site has been evaluated and disinfected. During the recovery phase, pets are attentively observed to ensure a smooth recovery and avoid harm upon waking.

    Owners face a difficult challenge after the dog gets home: keeping him quiet and calm while also stopping him from licking or gnawing at the incision site. Blood vessels in the scrotum leak and the scrotum can fill with blood if a dog is overly active after surgery, causing discomfort and perhaps requiring more treatments or surgery. Licking and chewing are also hazardous since they might lead to infection or open the wound.

    Because this dog is young and little, with only a minor incision, he should heal fast and without complications. However, if your dog has recently been neutered and has become too active or is licking his incision, seek assistance from your veterinarian.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.