Neutering Your Dog in Amesbury, MA: What You Need to Know

Dog neutering, otherwise known as either spaying or castrating, is a hot topic in the animal lover community. Many people have differing theories and opinions about how it should be done, if or why it should be done, and when it should be done.

The term “neuter” encompasses both the male and female versions of a procedure that permanently removes some of the animal’s sexual organs. The surgery itself can be considered “routine” because veterinarians across the world do it multiple times a day, on a daily basis. It is still a major surgery though, and should always be taken seriously.

Dog Neuter in Amesbury, MA

About Dog Spaying in Amesbury, MA

In female dogs, it is a major abdominal surgery. Some specialty animal hospital can do it laparoscopically, but most animal hospitals still use the tried-and-true method of removing the uterus and ovaries through an incision in the abdomen. The dog is under full anesthesia the whole time- including pain medication, sedatives, and placement of a breathing tube to allow for control over the amounts of oxygen and anesthesia gas going to the patient. Your dog won’t miss her uterus and ovaries. While we place a lot of value in our reproductive organs, dogs breed exclusively to reproduce as part of an evolutionary drive to create offspring. Removing those organs removes that urge, and they don’t know the difference.

Benefits of Spaying Your Dog

The most obvious benefit of the surgery is avoiding messy heat cycles. Some dogs have “silent” heats, where the only obvious evidence of hormonal cycles is an enlarged vulva. Most dogs will bleed during their heat cycle and spaying dogs will eliminate this entirely.

The second most obvious benefit of this surgery is avoiding an unnecessary or unwanted litter of puppies. Sure, we all like snuggling puppies, but it’s like having a whole litter of children- as an owner of a dog who has a litter of puppies, you are responsible for ensuring they’re well fed and watered, cleaned up after regularly, taken to the vet for vaccines or when they’re sick, and giving them medications. The other thing to consider is that you should absolutely spay your dog if you don’t have a top-quality AKC registered dog with a flawless health history. The world has plenty of mixed breed dogs to go around; pet overpopulation and overwhelmed shelters, are a sad reality that cannot be fixed until people start spaying and neutering their dogs. A responsible breeder chooses only the absolute healthiest and most genetically sound dogs to create offspring. Any companion dogs being intentionally (or accidentally) bred, who don’t meet these qualifications, are simply adding to an ever-growing problem.

Health Benefits of Spaying Dogs

The most insidious reproductive problem is a condition called pyometra. It can occur in ANY dog at ANY time after the first heat cycle. In Latin, the term pyo is associated with pus, and metra is associated with the uterus. Therefore pyometra means pus-filled uterus- it is an infection that is deadly unless appropriately treated. The only proven way to prevent pyometra is to spay your dog before it happens. If it does happen, the only proven way to cure it permanently is to spay the dog. Pyometra surgery is much more lengthy and dangerous than a routine spay, and often owners aren’t aware their dog has it until she is very ill. Dogs who have this condition often need emergency surgery, and sometimes have to stay in the hospital for at least 2-4 days to stabilize and recover.

Other reasons to consider spaying your dog include the elimination of ovarian cancer and uterine cancer risks. Spaying also significantly reduce risk of developing mammary cancer (breast cancer).

About Dog Neutering in Amesbury, MA

In male dogs, castration is still a major surgery, but a little less intense than in female dogs. With this surgery, the dog’s testicles are removed entirely, and the spermatic cord is tied off. This leaves the scrotum empty. In mature males there may still be some extra tissue hanging around after the surgery is over, but if a dog is castrated young there usually won’t be much evidence that anything was even there. As with females, male dogs get pain medication, sedation, and a breathing tube with carefully controlled oxygen and anesthesia gas. Your dog won’t miss his testicles. In fact, he won’t even notice something happened, except that he feels a little funny for a couple days and then goes back to his normal routine.

Benefits of Neutering Your Dog

The most obvious reason to neuter your dog is to avoid being a responsible party in the creation of an unwanted litter of puppies. There are some very important, less obvious reasons though. First, neutered dogs are less likely to develop territorial behaviors. Second, male dogs who have not been neutered can detect a female in heat from miles away- this makes them much more likely to try to escape and roam the countryside, putting them at risk for altercations with other intact male dog, wild animals, uncaring humans, or even moving vehicles.

Health Benefits of Neutering Dogs

Just like human males, male dogs have a prostate. As they age, intact dogs can develop prostatic diseases that are far less likely to happen in neutered dogs. Prostate conditions include prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis, and prostate cancer. Prostatic hyperplasia is a condition where the prostate becomes enlarged; sometimes enough that it causes difficulty passing urine and feces- neutering dogs in the early years can eliminate this from happening and neutering after it happens usually results in the prostate shrinking in size. While there are some medications that may help temporarily relieve symptoms, they will not cure it. Prostatitis is an infection in the prostate that causes inflammation- it happens more commonly in un-neutered males, and needs to be treated with antibiotics; castration can reduce the risk of it recurring.

Some other reasons to consider neutering your dog include the elimination of testicular cancer risk, and reduction of prostate cancer risk.

When To Neuter Your Dog in Amesbury, MA

It used to be that most dogs were neutered (spayed or castrated) by 6 months of age. At this age, all of their adult teeth should have erupted, but most female dogs haven’t yet gone into heat, and most male dogs haven’t yet started exhibiting hormone-driven behaviors like roaming, urine marking, or becoming territorial. That age seemed like a “sweet spot”, that was a win-win for everyone. In recent years however, it has come to light that some dogs may benefit from being neutered later in their youth. Studies have shown that large and giant breed dogs (those who will be over 50 pounds at maturity) may benefit from waiting for neutering until they’re a year old, or up to a year and a half. The hormones they’ll produce over the course of that first year of life can actually help prevent developmental issues, and reduce their risk for developing bone cancer as they age. Because of these hormones, these dogs may be at slightly increased risk for mammary or prostate issues than those dogs who were neutered young, but it is still beneficial to wait. In dogs less than 50 pounds, there isn’t yet evidence that they should be neutered at an age older than 6 months.

Talk with Your Veterinarian About Dog Neutering

It is important to discuss all of your dog’s neutering options with your veterinarian at Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital. Call (978) 388-3074 to talk to them about any questions you have for your own dog- no two are the same, after all!

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Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital had humble beginnings in 1968. Dr. Walter Brown opened the animal hospital in a garage next to his home near the current hospital and operated out of this small space until the current building was built in 1969.