Will the sky fall in if I desex my dog?
There is perhaps no act of veterinary medicine more shrouded in superstition and folklore than having ones pet dog desexed. So lets address some of the more common concerns which I have discussed with people at various times in our consulting rooms.
He will be less of a man if I desex him.
Surprisingly (or not?) this one comes up frequently with our male clients so lets nip this one in the testicles right away....
No. He will not be less of a man if you desex him. He was not a man to begin with. That is called anthropomorphism. Your dog doesn’t think he is a man. He is thinking about dinner. And dinner. And dinner. And sleeping. And scratching his ear.
And for reinforcement, no. He was not a man to begin with. He is your pet dog. He does not look in the mirror and flex his biceps and swing his crown jewels around like he is stirring a pot with them. He also doesn’t care if he no longer has crown jewels slapping around when he runs (if this one is a deal breaker for him (you) talk to us about implants.... yes seriously.)
I have never heard anyone worry that their female dog will be less of a women.
She needs to have one litter of puppies before she is spayed.
It’s best to spay animals before they reach sexual maturity in order to reap the full health benefits. Spaying your female dog before her first heat cycle means she will have a 20% reduction in the risk of developing mammary cancer compared to after puberty.
Spaying also eliminates risk of diseases and cancer of the ovaries and uterus, which are often life-threatening and require expensive surgery and treatment.
Regardless of timing of female desexing there is a 2-3% incidence of hormonal incontinence in desexed bitches. This usually responds to cheap, safe, low dose hormone replacement therapy if it occurs. Female desexed dogs are a little more prone to ligament injuries during life due to mildly weaker connective tissue.
My dogs personality will change if I get them desexed.
Desexing will only reduce or eliminate the behaviour that you don’t want, such as aggression and urine marking. Desexing does not make dogs more timid, less likely to bark if someone is stealing your car, ruin their personality or make them sad. Desexed males are less likely to roam, fight or mark their territory with urine, and spayed females do not experience hormone fluctuations and are no longer at risk of becoming pregnant.
I want my children to experience birth and nature just once.
There are lots of videos online of puppies being born. Now think about 120,000 dogs. Yes 120,000 dogs are euthanized in Australia each year as unwanted pets. Do you want to add to that number for this reason alone?
If I desex my dog they will get fat.
Only if you feed them too much food. Most males when desexed need 10% less food to maintain the same weight, female more like 5% less. They become cheaper to feed ie. they need a little less food for maintenance. Which is a good thing. 70% of the pet's I see are already overweight.
Desexing is unsafe.
Spays and castrations are the most common surgeries we perform. Castration is a relatively minor op with one small wound and no abdominal involvement. Spays are abdominal surgery involving removing the uterus and ovaries and patients receive 5 days of pain relief to go home with which is important for their comfort. Anaesthetics and patient monitoring is similar to that given in any human hospital and are of extremely low risk.
So now that we have those out of the way, why else might you want to have your dog desexed?
Un-desexed or entire males (EMs) fight more. That’s what testosterone does. Even if your EM is the most placid “dog-friendly” dog he is far more likely to be attacked by another EM at the dog park or beach out on a walk just because he is an EM.
Desexing vastly reduces the incidence of prostate enlargement, infection, abscesses and cancer in male dogs. In 22 years of practice I have seen 2 dogs with prostate problems who were desexed. I see EM's with life threatening prostate disease on a fortnightly basis.
Desexing eliminates male dogs risk of testicular cancer
EMs are more likely to exhibit dominance aggression to family members and friends. Sadly I frequently euthanize pets who have become aggressive to family and friends including serious bites. EM are very overrepresented in this scenario.
To reduce how often and persistently males pee on vertical surfaces (car tires, chairs and furniture, fridges and people). Their urine once desexed also smells less which is an added bonus.
It helps prevent unwanted pregnancies. There is now local Logan City Council regulations in place banning the sale of puppies unless the owner has a breeding licence so unwanted litters are a problem for many reasons.
Thinking of getting him or her done?
How old should my dog be before desexing?
We recommend desexing both males and females between 4 and 6 months of age. This is big enough to handle surgery and anaesthetics happily and before puberty starts and life gets complicated.