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What is the procedure?

Castration involves removing the testicles which prevents the dog from reproducing.

Should I get my dog castrated?

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to castration and ongoing research means advice is constantly evolving. It is a decision that must be based on the age, breed and your aims as an owner, carefully considering the benefits and risks. If you are at all unsure, then don’t hesitate to discuss the decision with us at Orchard Vets.

So, what are the proven benefits?

  • Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.
  • Protection against unwanted pregnancies.
  • Helps prevent and treat androgen-dependent conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis, perineal adenomas and perineal hernias.

Are there any other potential benefits?

  • May reduce unwanted behaviours, such as roaming, sexual behaviour and aggression.

When should I castrate?

Generally castration is advised to be carried out when the dog is physically and emotionally mature – as there is no demonstrated benefit to castration earlier, and there may potentially be adverse impacts on behaviour if it is carried out during adolescence. Generally we advise castration should be carried out from around 12 months of age, though in large or giant breeds it may be advisable to wait longer.

Castration is specifically recommended in the treatment of cryptorchidism. This is where one or both testicles have not fully descended into the scrotum and the testicles remain within the inguinal ring or abdomen. This is because the undescended testicles are at an increased risk of becoming cancerous, and at a younger age than in dogs with descended testicles.

What are the potential complications and risks of the procedure?

Castration is one of the most common operations performed in veterinary practice. Providing the dog is in good health and aftercare protocols are followed, serious complications are extremely uncommon. However, despite being a routine surgery, minor to major complications can occur and it is important that you are aware of them.

  • Scrotal swelling and bruising. This is usually self-limiting and resolves with time. This is more likely to occur in older dogs, or if they are too active after surgery.
  • Bleeding. This may occur during or after the surgery but the vessels supplying the testicles are relatively small so the bleeding is usually minor and can be easily controlled if it occurs during surgery and it is usually self-limiting if it occurs post surgery.
  • Haematoma, abscess or seroma. Accumulations of blood or fluid below the incision may occur and will generally resolve without intervention. More rarely, pus may accumulate and require antibiotics. This is very rare due to careful aseptic technique. Occasionally, generally in older, large breed dogs, blood can accumulate within the scrotum itself (scrotal haematoma) this can be due to the excessive exercise post surgery. Smaller haematomas can be left to reabsorb over time with the addition of some anti-inflammatories. On rare occasions drainage may be required.
  • Infection and wound breakdown. Stopping him from licking his incision and restricting exercise is important in preventing this.
  • Anaesethetic risk. Multiple measures are taken to reduce this risk and your pet will be closely monitored at all times.
  • Increased risk of malignant cancer of the prostate and bladder. The breed also affects risk, with mix-breeds, Shetland sheepdogs, Scottish terriers, Beagles, English Springer Spaniels, German shorthaired pointers and West Highland white terriers at increased odds. Your vet can discuss the best choice for you if you own one of these breeds.
  • Weight gain post surgery if his diet is not adjusted appropriately.
  • Mild gastro-intestinal upset post surgery that is usually self-limiting.
  • May worsen fear aggression, particularly if carried out before a fearful behaviour is fully assessed and a behavioural modification plan put in place.

A special mention – Rottweilers

There is some evidence to show that rottweilers are at an increased risk of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) after castration.

What should I expect after the procedure?

Your dog will go home the same day as the surgery and will be given a buster collar or medishirt to prevent him from licking at his incision.

We will see him for a check up 3 and 10 days post surgery to make sure he has recovered from the anaesthetic and determine whether there are any complications that need addressing.