Cefni German Shepherd Rescue | Neutering FAQ
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Neutering FAQ

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Neutering the facts:
Neutering is the surgical removal of a male dog's testicles. During the procedure, each of the dog's testes and testicular epididymi are removed along with sections of the dog's testicular blood vessels and spermatic ducts (vas deferens or ductus deferens). The remainder of the male dog's reproductive tract structures, including: the prostate, urethra, penis, bulbis glandis and much of the dog's testicular blood vessels and spermatic ducts are left intact. Basically, the parts of the male reproductive tract that get removed are those which are responsible for sperm production, sperm maturation and the secretion of testosterone (the major male hormone). Removal of these structures plays a big role in canine population control (without sperm, the dog can not father young); genetic disease control (male dogs with genetic disorders can not pass on their disease conditions to any young if they can not breed); prevention and/or treatment of various medical disorders (e.g. castration prevents and/or treats a number of testicular diseases and testosterone-enhanced medical conditions) and male dog behavioural modification (testosterone is responsible for many male-dog behavioural traits that some owners find problematic - e.g. roaming, aggression, inter-male aggression, dominance, leg cocking - and castration, by removing the source of testosterone, may help to resolve these issues). 
 
 

There are many reasons why veterinarians and pet advocacy groups recommend the neutering of entire male dogs. Many of these reasons are listed below, however the list is by no means exhaustive.
 

The good points of male neutering:

 

1. The prevention of unwanted litters:
Pet overpopulation and the dumping of unwanted litters of puppies (and kittens) is an all-too-common side effect of irresponsible pet ownership. Every year, thousands of unwanted puppies and older dogs are dumped on the street (where they ultimately end up dying from neglect or finding their way into pounds and shelters) or handed in to shelters. Many of these animals do not ever get adopted from the pounds and shelters that take them in and need to be euthanased. This sad waste of healthy life can be reduced by not letting pet dogs breed indiscriminately and one way of preventing any accidental, unwanted breeding from occurring is through the routine neutering of all non-stud (non-breeder) male dogs (and female dogs too, but this is another page). 

Note: The deliberate breeding of family pets should never be considered an easy way to make a quick buck. A lot of cost and effort and expertise goes into producing a quality litter for profitable sale. And that's only if nothing goes wrong! If your bitch needs a caesarean section at one in the morning or develops a severe infection after whelping (e.g. pyometron, mastitis), then all of your much planned profits will rapidly turn into financial losses (the vet fees for these kinds of treatments are high). On top of that, if you fail to do your homework and breed poor quality pups or poorly socialised pups that won't sell, then you've just condemned some of those animals to a miserable life of being dumped in shelters or on the streets. 

2. The reduction of stray and feral animal populations:
By having companion dogs neutered, they are unable to go out and mate with feral or stray bitches and get them pregnant. This results in fewer litters of stray and feral dogs being born which, in return, benefits not just those unwanted puppies (who lead a tough neglected life), but also society in general. Feral and stray dog populations pose a significant risk of predation to native wildlife, domestic pets and livestock; they carry diseases that may affect humans and their pets (e.g. rabies); they may attack people and they put a huge financial and emotional burden on pounds, shelters and animal rescue groups. 

3. To reduce the spread of inferior genetic traits, genetic diseases and congenital deformities:
Dog breeding is not merely the production of puppies, it is the transferral of genes and genetic traits from one generation to the next in a breed population. Pet owners and breeders should desex male dogs that have conformational, colouring and temperamental traits, which are unfavourable or faulty to the breed as a whole to reduce the spread of these defects further down the generations. Male dogs with heritable genetic diseases and congenital defects/deformities should also be desexed to reduce the spread of these genetic diseases to their offspring.

Some examples of proven-heritable or suspect-heritable diseases that we select against when choosing to neuter male dogs include: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cryptorchidism, hemeralopia, trapped neutrophil syndrome, collie eye anomaly and congenital cataracts. There are hundreds of others. 

4. The prevention or reduction of testicular (and epididymal) diseases:
It is difficult to contract a testicular disease if you have no testicles. Early neutering prevents dogs from contracting a range diseases and disorders including: testicular cancer, epididymal cancer, orchitis (testicular inflammation), epididymitis, testicular torsion, testicular abscessation and testicular trauma. 

5. The prevention or reduction of testosterone-induced diseases:
Dogs can suffer from a range of diseases and medical conditions that are directly associated with high blood testosterone levels. These disease conditions include: benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, prostatic abscess, perianal or perineal adenomas (small cancers that occur around the anus of male dogs), perineal hernias and certain castration-responsive skin disorders (dermatoses). Desexing removes the main source of testosterone in the animal's body (the testes), which not only prevents the onset of these diseases but can even help to control or cure these diseases if they are already present. 

6. The prevention or reduction of testosterone-mediated behavioural problems:
The testicles are responsible for producing testosterone: the hormone that makes male animals look and act like male animals. It is the testicles that make male animals exhibit the kinds of "male" testosterone-dependent behaviors normally attributed to an entire animal. Entire dogs are likely to be more aggressive and more dominant and more prone to male-to-male aggression (inter-male aggression) than neutered animals: i.e. they act like bossy entire males. They will tend to exhibit sexualised behaviours including: aroused interest in females of their own species; mounting of females (particularly in-heat, estrus females); mating of females; mounting and humping of inanimate objects (including toys, chair-legs and human legs) and complete erection of the penis when excited. They are more prone to displaying often unwanted masculine territorial behaviours such as the guarding of resources (food, bones, territory, companion people and pets and so on) and the marking of territory with urine and feces (e.g. entire tomcats may exhibit urine spraying in the house; male dogs will cock their legs to urinate on vertical surfaces). Additionally, entire male animals are more likely than neutered animals are to leave their yards and roam the countryside looking for females and trouble. Roaming is a troublesome habit because it puts other animals (wildlife, livestock and other pets) and humans at risk of harm from your animal and it puts the roaming pet at risk from all manner of dangers including: predation by other animals, cruelty by humans, poisoning, envenomation (e.g. snake bite) and motor vehicle strikes. The neutering of entire animals can reduce some of these problematic testosterone-mediated behaviours. 

 

Dog spaying (bitch spaying procedure) - otherwise known as female neutering, dog sterilisation, "fixing", desexing, ovary and uterine ablation, uterus removal or by the medical term: ovariohysterectomy - is the surgical removal of a female dog's ovaries and uterus for the purposes of canine population control, medical health benefit, genetic-disease control and behavioral modification. Considered to be a basic component of responsible female dog ownership, the spaying of female dogs is a simple and common surgical procedure that is performed by veterinary clinics all over the world. This page contains everything you, the pet owner, need to know about dog spaying (female dog desexing)

 

Dog spaying or desexing is the surgical removal of a female (bitch) dog's internal reproductive structures including her ovaries (the site of ova/egg production), Fallopian tubes, uterine horns (the two long tubes of uterus where the fetal puppies develop and grow) and a section of her uterine body (the part of the uterus where the uterine horns merge and become one body). The picture on the right shows a dog uterus that has been removed by dog spaying surgery - it is labeled to give you a clear illustration of the reproductive structures that are removed during surgery. 


Basically, the parts of the female reproductive tract that get removed are those which are responsible for egg (ova) production, embryo and fetus development and the secretion of the major female reproductive hormones (oestrogen and progesterone being the main female reproductive hormones). Removal of these structures plays a huge role in canine population control (without eggs, the female dog can not produce young; without a uterus, there is nowhere for the unborn puppies to develop); canine genetic disease control (female dogs with genetic disorders can not pass on their inheritable disease conditions to any young if they can not breed); theprevention and/or treatment of various medical disorders (spaying prevents and/or treats a number of ovarian and uterine diseases as well as various hormone-enhanced medical conditions) and female dog behavioral modification (e.g. estrogen is responsible for many female dog behavioral traits that some owners find problematic - e.g. roaming, blood spotting during proestrus, attractiveness and attraction to male dogs - and dog spaying, by removing the ovarian source of female hormones, may help to resolve these issues). 

 

Benefits of spaying - reasons for spaying your dog.

There are many reasons why veterinarians and pet advocacy groups recommend the desexing of entire female dogs. Many of these reasons are listed below, however the list is by no means exhaustive.
 

1. The prevention of unwanted litters:
Pet overpopulation and the dumping of unwanted litters of puppies (and kittens) is an all-too-common side effect of irresponsible pet ownership. Every year, thousands of unwanted puppies and older dogs are surrendered to shelters and pounds for rehoming or dumped on the street (street-dumped animals ultimately end up dying from starvation, predation or transmissible canine diseases or finding their way into pounds and shelters that may or may not be able to find homes for them). Many of these animals do not ever get adopted from the pounds and shelters that take them in and those that don't get adopted often end up being euthanased. This sad waste of healthy life can be reduced by not letting pet dogs breed indiscriminately and the best way of preventing any accidental, unwanted breeding from occurring is through the routine neutering of all non-stud (non-breeder) female dogs (and male dogs too, but this is another page). 

Note: The deliberate breeding of family dogs should never be considered an easy way to make a quick buck. A lot of cost and effort and expertise goes into producing a quality litter of puppies for profitable sale. And that's only if nothing goes wrong! If your bitch needs a caesarean section at one in the morning or develops a severe infection after whelping (e.g. metritis, mastitis), then all of your much planned profits will rapidly turn into financial losses (the vet fees for these kinds of treatments are high). On top of that, if you fail to do your homework and you breed poor quality puppies or poorly socialized pups that won't sell, then you've just condemned some of those young animals to a miserable life of being dumped in shelters or on the streets. 

2. The reduction of stray and feral dog populations:
By having companion dogs spayed at young ages, they are unable to become pregnant. This results in fewer litters of unwanted puppies being born which, in return, benefits not just those unwanted pups (dumped or shelter-surrendered pups can often lead a tough, neglected life), but also society and the environment in general. A proportion of the unwanted puppies that are dumped into the environment (e.g. the Australian bush) do survive and grow up to become feral dogs, which in turn reproduce to produce more feral dogs. Feral and stray dog populations pose a significant risk of predation to native wildlife; they account for many thousands of dollars in stock and farming losses (livestock killing - see image opposite); they carry diseases that may affect humans (e.g. rabies, worms, dog-bites) and their pets (e.g. rabies, parasites, parvo virus, distemper); they fight with domestic pets, inflicting nasty dog-fight wounds and abscesses; they kill smaller domestic pets (e.g. pet cats, small dogs, rabbits and livestock); they steal the food of domestic pets and they place a huge financial and emotional burden on the pounds, shelters and animal rescue groups which have to deal with them. 


3. To reduce the spread of inferior genetic traits, genetic diseases and congenital deformities:
Dog breeding is not merely the production of puppies, it is the transferral of genes and genetic traits from one generation to the next in a breed population. Pet owners and breeders should desex female dogs that have conformational, coloring and temperamental traits, which are unfavorable or faulty to the breed as a whole, to reduce the spread of these defects further down the generations. Female dogs with heritable genetic diseases and congenital defects/deformities should also be desexed to reduce the spread of these genetic diseases to their offspring.

Some examples of proven-heritable or suspect-heritable diseases that we select against when choosing to spay dogs include: hip and elbow dysplasia, polycystic kidney disease (PKD), cryptorchidism, collie eye anomaly, lysosomal storage diseases, amyloidosis and dilated cardiomyopathy. There are many others. 



4. The prevention and/or treatment of ovarian and uterine diseases:
It is difficult to contract an ovarian or uterine disease if you have no ovaries or uterus. Early dog spaying prevents female dogs from contracting a range of ovarian and uterine diseases and disorders including: uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, polycystic ovaries, metritis or endometritis (severe uterine or uterine wall inflammation, often with bacterial infection, usually seen after whelping), mucometra (a uterus full of glandular mucus), cystic endometrial hyperplasia (large cysts in the wall of the uterus that predispose dogs to pyometra), pyometra or pyometron (infection and abscessation of the uterus that is similar to metritis and endometritis, but not usually associated with pregnancy and whelping), ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus), uterine prolapse and uterine torsion. 
 

5. The prevention or reduction of hormone-induced diseases:
It is well known that entire female dogs do suffer from a range of diseases and medical conditions that are directly associated with high blood estrogen and/or progesterone levels (the hormones produced by the ovaries). These conditions include: vaginal hyperplasia (a large swelling of the roof of the vaginal passage, which results in a large red or pink ball of flesh protruding from the bitch's vulva - see image below); mammary neoplasia (breast cancer in dogs is greatly influenced by hormones and bitches spayed prior to their first season almost never develop the condition); mammary enlargement; cystic endometrial hyperplasia; pyometron (the development of uterine conditions favorable to the development of uterine infection or pyometra is greatly reliant on seasonal ovarian reproductive hormone fluctuations); pseudopregnancy (false pregnancy or phantom pregnancy with accompanied signs of 'expecting' including: nesting behaviours, abdominal enlargement, breast enlargement and even lactation) and certain desexing-responsive skin disorders (e.g. estrogen-induced dermatoses). 

Some entire bitches develop follicular cysts on their ovaries (also termed polycystic ovaries - ovaries with too many actively-secreting ovarian follicles), which produce excessive amounts of oestrogen, well above the quantities usually seen in a normal entire bitch. Excessive estrogen is termedhyperestrogenism and it can result in a number of estrogen-induced behavioral problems manifesting (e.g. nymphomania, excessive libido, mounting toys) as well as a range of potentially life-threatening medical problems including: bone marrow suppression (oestrogen toxicity shuts down the bone marrow, causing complete failure of production of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets), blackening of the skin (hyperpigmentation), hairloss and/or poor coat quality and abnormally increased mammary development. 

High levels of ovary-derived reproductive hormones (e.g. progesterone) can also interfere with the management of other medical conditions. Diabetes mellitus is a good example of this. Progesterone inhibits the action of insulin on the body cells' insulin receptors, producing a condition called 'insulin resistance' or Type 2 diabetes (similar to parturient diabetes or 'pregnancy diabetes' seen in women). What essentially happens is that any insulin (e.g. Caninsulin, Actrapid and others) given to the pet to manage its diabetes does not work as effectively in the presence of progesterone. This can make the animal's diabetes very difficult to control every time it has a season and it is one of the main reasons why vets recommend the desexing of diabetic dogs as part of the management of the disease. Other diseases whose severity or management can also be adversely affected by high reproductive hormone levels include acromegaly, epilepsy, Cushing's disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) and generalised Demodexmites. 

Desexing removes the main source of oestrogen and progesterone from the animal's body (the ovaries), which not only prevents the onset of these diseases or conditions, but can even help to control or manage these diseases if they are already present. 


6. The prevention or reduction of hormone-mediated behavioural problems:
The ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone: the hormones that make female animals look and act like female animals. It is the ovaries that make female dogs exhibit the kinds of "female" hormone-dependent behaviors normally attributed to the entire animal. Entire female dogs are more likely to exhibit sexualised behaviors including: aroused interest in males of their own species; nymphomania (excessive sexual and mating drive) and excessive affection and sexual interest towards their owners (in-heat dogs can often drive their owners nuts by constantly putting their bottoms in their owners' faces, rubbing up against them and mounting toys and legs). Pre-heat dogs just coming into season can sometimes be moody and unpredictable (PMS?) and they may threaten or bite owners and other household pets who get too close to them or touch them on the rump. Some of the more dominant cycling females will even display unwanted dominance and territorial behaviors such the marking of territory with urine (although much more commonly exhibited by entire male dogs, some dominant females will also exhibit urine marking in the house) and the guarding of food, nesting sites and other resources. Additionally, entire, in-heat female dogs are much more likely than neutered animals are to leave their yards and roam the countryside looking for males and trouble. Roaming is a troublesome habit because it puts other animals (wildlife and other pets) and humans at risk of harm from your canine pet and it puts the roaming pet at risk from all manner of dangers including: predation by other animals, attacks by other dogs, cruelty by humans, poisoning, envenomation (e.g. snake bite) and motor vehicle strikes. The spaying of entire female dogs may help to reduce some of these problematic hormone-mediated behaviours. 

Note: Fighting between dogs, even dogs living within the same house-hold, is more common when dogs are left entire and undesexed. Although fighting is much more common between entire male dogs, fighting can also occur between male and female dogs when a male attempts to mate with a female who is not yet receptive to his advances. Such advances can result in the female dog attacking the male and receiving wounds in return. Fighting can also occur between entire bitches in the same household when one of the bitches (particularly a subordinate female) comes into heat. The onset of estrus (heat or season) affects the in-season-subordinate's smell and, consequently, her perceived standing within the bitch hierarchy (in wild dog society, only the alpha or top female is permitted to cycle and breed), which, if taken as a threat by the dominant females in the house-hold, can result in very aggressive fighting and severe injury. Owners of fighting dogs often spend hundreds to thousands of dollars treating their pets for fight wounds and dog-fight abscesses. By reducing their attractiveness to male dogs and also their perceived threat/challenge towards other intact female dogs, dog spaying reduces the incidence of fighting and its secondary complications (clawed and lacerated eyes, dog-fight abscesses and so on). 

7. The reduction of male dog attraction:
When a female dog comes into heat, she releases pheromones and hormones in her urine that notify male dogs of her increased fertility. These hormones and pheromones can be detected by male dogs from many miles away. It is, therefore, not uncommon for the owners of undesexed, in-heat female dogs to have male dogs constantly coming into their yards at all times of the day and night. 

This is a problem for many reasons. Firstly, the wandering dogs will fight amongst themselves, producing a lot of ruckus and injury in the middle of the night. Secondly, the trespassing dogs will fight with the house owner's dogs, resulting in injuries and costly dog fight abscesses and, potentially, the spread of diseases like rabies. The roaming dogs may also predate upon the house-owner's other pets, including any small domesticated pets (cats, rabbits, poultry etc.) and livestock. Thirdly, the roaming dogs will void urine and feces in the female-dog owner's yard, which kills the plants and grass and leaves behind a pungent and noxious odor. Sometimes, the male dogs will even venture into the female-dog owner's house (they certainly will if there is a pet flap), where they will steal food and mate with the in-heat female in question. If the female dog does escape the house, she is almost certain to be mated and to fall pregnant. If the female dog is living outside in a backyard, even a seemingly-well-fenced yard, then she is also highly likely to become pregnant (male dogs will climb and scale great heights and dig under fences and push through heavy gates to access and mate with a female dog on heat). 

By spaying all of the female dogs in your household, there will be nothing to attract the male dogs into your yard and, consequently, the problem of trespassing stray dogs will be solved. 

 

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