Pet parents often choose to neuter their pups based on the recommendation of their veterinarian or breeder. As well, rescue organizations and shelters typically require all adopted dogs to be neutered.
Making the choice for dog neuter surgery is a personal and important decision. If you have wondered about the dog neuter procedure, I’ll take you step-by-step through how a dog is neutered and include the facts you need to make the best choice for your pup.
Why Neuter a Dog?
The main benefit of a neutered dog is preventing pet overpopulation. A neutered dog cannot reproduce.
Neutering a dog also has behavioral benefits, including a reduction in unwanted conduct, such as humping, roaming, aggression and urine marking.
A pup’s health also is benefitted by the dog neuter procedure. It erases the risk of testicular cancer and greatly reduces the possibility of prostatitis, prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer.
How Are Dogs Neutered?
The process of dog neuter surgery is straightforward.
- The veterinary team will examine your dog. Usually, bloodwork is run prior to surgery, either the same day or earlier, to make sure your dog is safe for anesthesia.
- If his bloodwork is normal, your dog will receive an injection to sedate him and reduce anxiety and pain, and an intravenous catheter will be placed in his leg. You may notice an area of clipped fur on one of your dog’s legs after surgery.
- Your dog is then placed under general anesthesia. The hair in front of his scrotum is clipped, and the skin will be surgically prepped for sterile surgery. Your dog may receive a testicular lidocaine block to reduce pain.
- A small incision is made in between the penis and the scrotum, and the testicles are exteriorized through this incision.
- After the vas deferens (spermatic cord) are clamped and “tied off” with sterile suture material, then each testicle is removed with a scalpel blade or laser. The surgeon makes sure there is no bleeding and then places the testicular attachments back inside the dog’s body.
- The skin is closed with two layers of suture or staples. The sutures usually are under the skin and dissolve after a set period of time. This has two benefits: The dog is less likely to bother buried sutures, and it eliminates the need for suture removal.
- After the dog neuter surgery, your pup receives an injection of pain medication and wakes up in recovery.
Dogs are hospitalized for the dog neuter procedure, which usually is performed on an outpatient basis. Most dogs go home the same day as the surgery.
Is the Dog Neuter Procedure Painful?
Because neutering a dog is a surgical procedure, it is painful. However, with the advent of modern pain medications and a better understanding of pain control in dogs, most pups experience only minimal discomfort after surgery when all post-surgical recommendations are followed.
This includes administering pain medication even if your dog doesn’t appear to be in pain. It is very important to control pain following any surgical procedure because animals (and people!) in pain take longer to recover.
Talk to your vet about pet pain medication.
What Risks Are Associated with the Dog Neuter Procedure?
The risks associated with neutering a dog include pain, infection, dehiscence (opening) of the surgical site and excessive bleeding, which can cause a condition called a scrotal hematoma where the scrotum fills up with blood. Also, the risks of administering general anesthesia include death, so that is why bloodwork and a full exam are critical safety procedures before any general anesthesia is administered.
Timing of the dog neuter surgery also can affect long-term health risks for your fur friend. For example, recent studies show that delaying neutering in large-breed dogs until they are fully grown—1½-2 years old—reduces their risk of developing certain joint disorders and bone cancers. So, talk with your veterinarian about the ideal time to neuter your particular dog.
What Do I Need to Monitor After Dog Neuter Surgery?
Signs of infection after surgery include excessive swelling, redness, heat, odor or discharge from the surgical site. If you notice any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately.
You can minimize the risk of infection by following discharge instructions from your veterinarian and preventing your pup from licking the surgery site. The easiest way to keep him from licking the site is to place a cone or no-bite dog collar on your dog for the recommended time period after surgery.
It also is imperative to control your dog’s post-surgery activity to help prevent swelling. In some cases, a dog’s early activity can open his incision, so follow all post-surgical instructions from your veterinarian exactly.
When Can My Neutered Dog Resume Normal Activity?
Most dogs can return to their normal activities about 10-14 days after their dog neuter surgery.
By Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ