Castrating a dog is an operation under general anaesthesia where both testicles are removed. It is an important decision to make with your vet. The operation can have many benefits including prevention of breeding, reduction in the risk of cancer and modification of some behaviours.
If a client’s main concern is to prevent aggression, it may be ethically acceptable to agree to surgical castration. However, alternative less maleficent strategies are also available (eg, hormone implants).
What is castration?
Castrating a dog is an operation under general anaesthetic where both the testicles are removed. It is one of the most common surgical procedures performed by veterinary surgeons and is an integral part of the routine health check for a male dog. There are several advantages to castration including prevention of breeding, elimination of sexual behaviour and the reduction in risk of certain cancers and hernias of the testicles and prostate glands.
In addition, a neutered male has fewer libido-related issues such as excessive urine marking and aggressive behaviour towards other dogs. However, it is important to note that there are many behaviours that are not improved by castration, such as a desire to run away or chase females in heat, which should be addressed through proper socialisation and training.
A veterinarian can also chemically castrate a male dog, which is less invasive and requires no general anaesthetic. It is also reversible and can be used to test the effects on the animal before a permanent operation. In some cases, the vet may recommend this procedure if you are worried about your pet’s reaction to surgery or anaesthetics. However, this is not a substitute for surgical castration and you should consult your vet about which option is best for your pet.
Procedure for castrating a dog
Surgical castration, also known as neutering, is the procedure in which a veterinarian removes your dog’s testicles. It is performed under general anesthesia, so your pet will be asleep and pain-free. The vet will then make an incision near the front of your dog’s scrotum and remove the testicles. During the surgery, your dog will receive pain medication to ensure that they remain comfortable and relaxed. The vet will also use monitoring equipment to monitor your dog’s vital signs during the operation, such as heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, and electrocardiogram readings.
If one of your dog’s testicles does not descend into the scrotum, it will be removed from a different incision site on the underside of their body, near the penis. In rare cases, a testicle may remain in the abdomen and will need to be removed through abdominal exploratory surgery.
Some behavioural problems caused by male hormones, such as urine marking or aggression, are improved when your dog is castrated. However, it is important to note that castration is not an alternative to proper training and socialisation. In addition, there are risks associated with all surgeries and general anaesthesia, so your vet will advise you on the best time to have your dog castrated.
Why should you castrate a dog
Many dog owners choose to have their male dogs castrated as a way of preventing unplanned litters, which contribute to pet overpopulation and the need for euthanasia. However, there is debate in veterinary science about whether or not castration really has any significant impact on behaviour.
Generally, a dog’s interest in roaming and aggressive behaviour toward other dogs is eliminated after being castrated. It also reduces urination marking and inappropriate mounting. In addition, the risk of cancer in the testicles and anus is reduced. Another health benefit is that it prevents certain types of hernia, such as the perineal hernia.
A veterinarian will usually perform surgical castration by making an incision in the scrotum to remove the testicles. Sometimes, one or both of the testicles may remain in the abdomen, a condition called cryptorchidism. In this case, a vet will need to make two incisions. The scrotum will be swollen for a few days after the operation, but it should flatten out once the dog is fully recovered from anaesthesia. The veterinary nurse will arrange an appointment for follow-up checks, if necessary. A permanent implant containing the hormone Deslorelin is now available, which can eliminate the need for surgery and reduce the levels of testosterone in the bloodstream.
Who can castrate a dog
Dog castration is usually carried out by a vet at a veterinary surgery. It is often done when the dog is around 9-12 months of age but can be carried out later if your vet feels that your dog is physically mature enough and for behavioural reasons.
A surgical castration involves your dog being put under general anaesthetic and both his testicles are removed. The effects of this operation are irreversible, so it is important to make sure that you are happy with the decision before letting your vet proceed.
It is also possible to chemically castrate your dog using an implant or injection. This is a less invasive procedure than surgical castration and the effects are reversible, so it is a good option if you are worried about your dog’s reaction to being under general anaesthetic.
Once your dog has been castrated, he will be placed in a warm, comfortable kennel to recover from the anaesthetic. He should be ready to go home a few hours after his operation, but if he is feeling unwell, your vet will arrange for him to stay in the surgery for a longer time. Your vet will discuss the best time for you to have your dog castrated, but it is important to understand that there are some behaviours that will not be improved by being castrated.
Medical equipments used in dog castration
In most cases, the surgical castration procedure is performed through a prescrotal incision. This typically decreases surgical time. Incisions are closed with non-absorbable 2/0 or 3/0 polyglycolic acid suture (Dafilon, polyamide, B. Braun Surgical S.A., Rubi, Spain).
If your dog has one or both undescended testicles (cryptorchidism), they may need to be removed from the abdomen. Retained testicles are at a greater risk for developing cancer and can twist on their stalks and cause life-threatening inflammation.
During the castration procedure, your pet will be under sedation with a well-balanced anesthetic protocol. The sedatives will include xylazine, a member of the alpha2-adrenoreceptor agonist group of medications. It has been shown to be a safe and effective way to sedate dogs for surgery. Xylazine is also used to prevent hypothermia in geriatric dogs.
Another option for dog castration is chemical castration, which uses injections of Deslorelin to reduce testosterone levels in the body. The technique is not as permanent as surgical castration, but it can help control aggressive behaviours and urinate marking in male dogs. It is an ideal solution for those dogs that are too young to undergo a surgical castration and for breeders who wish to wait until their puppies have matured before they are castrated.
Ethical implications of castrating a dog
When it comes to dog castration, there is a lot of information about its physical effects, but less about how it affects the animal’s internal world. Testicles contain hormones that are involved in reproduction, but also play a key role in the brain and musculature. Castration reduces libido, but it does not eliminate it, and it may cause other testosterone-driven behaviors, such as mounting behaviour.
In a recent survey, dog owners reported that they had been advised to castrate their dogs by veterinarians and other sources. However, these recommendations were not based on scientific evidence, and the majority of respondents did not report an improvement in unwanted behavior following castration.
This suggests that castration is not always ethically desirable, even when it does reduce undesirable behavior. This is because the first ethical principle, as set out by Banner, is that ‘harms of a particular degree and kind ought never to be inflicted on animals, except where necessary in the interests of their welfare’. It may be difficult for vets to justify the mutilation of their clients’ dogs if there are alternative, less invasive strategies available to them.
Side effects of castrating a dog
Surgical castration involves the removal of both testicles under general anaesthetic. This prevents breeding and helps to control the pet overpopulation crisis. It also reduces unwanted behaviour such as urine marking and aggressiveness. It can also reduce the risk of prostate disease and perianal adenomas.
It is important to note that although castration can help with behavioural problems, it will not completely resolve them. In cases of severe behavioural issues, a full workup by a qualified behaviourist is likely to be more helpful. However, if your dog is showing signs of aggression or timidity that are being caused by testosterone-driven behaviour, castration can certainly be beneficial and may make the problem more manageable.
The side effects of castration include pain and bruising at the injection site. Some dogs will also feel unwell in the days following castration, which is due to the reduction of testosterone. There is also a small risk of complications, but these are very rare. It is important to talk with your vet and local dog wardens if you are worried about the cost of the procedure, as they might be able to offer charity assistance. There are also reversible implants that mimic the effect of surgery without the need for general anaesthetic.