The Difference Between Neutering and Spaying Your Dog

eight month old puppy with a cone on his neck protecting him from licking the area where he was neutered

Castration of a dog is referred to as "neutering." The testicles of a male dog are surgically removed. A professional veterinarian or veterinary student under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian must conduct neutering under general anesthesia. Getting the dog "fixed" is another term for neutering.

Why Do Dogs Get Neutered?

The majority of dogs are neutered to prevent them from reproducing. Another purpose for neutering is to avoid certain behaviors linked with male hormones and to prevent reproductive malignancies. Neutering can prevent or reduce hormone-related behaviors like marking and humping. Furthermore, an unneutered male dog might travel to great lengths to chase down a female in heat. This might result in the dog escaping and becoming harmed, or it could result in a fight with another dog.

Puppies are neutered between the ages of six and nine months. Some dogs are neutered sooner than others. These puppies haven't achieved sexual maturity yet (puberty.) Neutering prevents testicular cancer and may lessen the incidence of prostate cancer, however the evidence is mixed. Neutering is sometimes performed to treat a medical issue involving the testicles or the hormones they produce.

What Are the Risks of a Neuter?

While neutering is seen as a normal process, it is not without danger. Risks include a bad response to anesthesia, bleeding, bruising, and infection, as with any surgical treatment. Complications are rare, thankfully.

Prior to surgery, a veterinarian should carefully examine the dog and do lab testing. During and after surgery, the veterinarian can diagnose health conditions that raise the risk of complications.

Overall, the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent in healthy dogs. 

What Happens During a Neuter?

The dog is sedated before operation. An intravenous catheter is used to deliver a painless injection of an anesthetic medication. Prescription pain relievers can be begun ahead of time. The dog's trachea is then inserted with a breathing tube to maintain an open airway and supply oxygen mixed with gas anesthetic. To maintain the best anesthetic level, the gas percentage is changed.

Monitors that measure the dog's vital parameters (breathing rate, heart rate, blood oxygenation level) are implanted after the dog is sedated. To guarantee the dog's safety during the process, vital signs are checked and documented. Because the dog's body temperature normally dips after anesthesia, technicians take steps to keep him warm. Intravenous fluids are used to keep blood pressure stable, avoid dehydration, and compensate for blood loss during surgery.

The dog is then laid on his back, anesthetized. Above the scrotum (below the penis), a technician shaves the hair and cleanses the area with a specific surgical cleaner to eliminate dirt and bacteria. The veterinarian "scrubs in" by using a specialized surgical cleaner to thoroughly clean their hands, wrists, and forearms. They put on medical gloves and a sterile gown. All operating room personnel wear hats to cover their hair, masks to protect their mouths and noses, and coverings over their shoes to avoid the spread of germs.

The veterinarian wraps the dog in sterile drapes before making the initial cut to prevent germs and debris from entering the operation site. Between the scrotum and the penis, a scalpel is used to make a tiny incision through the layers of skin and tissue. The vet locates the testicular blood supply and spermatic ducts using sophisticated surgical devices, then deftly ties them off with sutures before delicately taking out the testicles. Internal sutures are frequently used to seal the wound, so you won't have to go back to the veterinarian to have them removed. To seal the outer layer of skin, some veterinarians employ a particular skin adhesive, while others prefer to utilize visible exterior stitches. This is a question of personal choice and the demands of the dog.

After the procedure, a professional will carefully clean the incision before transferring the dog to recovery. Depending on the needs of the dog, further pain medication may be administered. The idea is for the dog to wake up as pain-free as possible in a comfy, warm bed.

The entire process from the time anesthesia starts to the time the dogs is awake lasts between 30-60 minutes. The surgery itself typically takes about 10-20 minutes. 

Recovery from Neuter Surgery in Dogs

The majority of dogs recover rapidly from surgery. However, your dog's activities should be limited for around two weeks after surgery. This enables for normal healing of the operation site. Internal sutures might rupture or inflammation can obstruct healing when you run or jump.

It's also crucial to avoid your dog from licking the wound. Licking irritates the skin and introduces germs, which can lead to illness. As a result, many veterinarians advise utilizing an e-collar following surgery. The "cone of shame," as the conical collar is affectionately known.

If your vet placed external sutures, these will need to be removed about 10 to 14 days after surgery. This can be done during a brief visit to your vet's office.

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.