Pro & Cons of Neutering Dogs

Written by adrienne warber
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Pro & Cons of Neutering Dogs
(Photo by Natascha Seitler; Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org)

There are pros and cons of neutering dogs. Neutering provides many health benefits to male dogs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly recommends that male dogs get neutered to prevent potentially fatal health problems. Yet, neutering can sometimes lead to chronic health conditions. Find out the pros and cons of neutering dogs to help you make an informed decision for your pet.

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Function

The neutering process is the surgical removal a male dog's testicles, which will make him sterile. The veterinarian will use general anaesthesia for the surgery. A dog can spend less than eight hours or more than one day at a veterinary clinic for observation post surgery depending upon his health or age. Most healthy, young dogs go home on the same day as the surgery.

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that dog owners get their dogs neutered between eight and 16 weeks of age. Neutering is one of the most common veterinary surgeries with a fast recovery period. Dogs are typically behaving normally within five days post surgery.

Pros

Veterinarians recommend neutering as both as a birth control for dogs to reduce overpopulation from unplanned litters and to eliminate a dog's chance of developing life-altering health problems. Neutering eliminates a dog's chance of developing testicular cancer and reduces his chance of experiencing prostate problems. Additionally, the neutered dog is less likely to develop diabetes or perianal fistulas, chronic ulcerative lesions in the anal area.

Neutering also improves the quality of life of dogs. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite or demonstrate aggressive behaviour than unneutered dogs. Many unneutered male dogs display negative behaviours such as marking their territory by urinating, provoking dog fights with other male dogs for dominance or running away.

Cons

Neutered male dogs face risks for certain health conditions later in life. The risk for osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, increases significantly if a dog is neutered before his first birthday. Other serious health risks that increase after neutering a male dog include urinary tract cancer, prostate cancer and malignant tumours in the heart, cardiac hemangiosarcoma. Some neutered dogs are also more prone to hypothyroidism or low thyroid levels, reactions to vaccinations and orthopaedic problems

The high level of potential future health problems lead some experts such as Laura J. Sanborn, M.S. of Rutgers University, to argue that the health risks of neutering a male dog outweigh the benefits of neutering him.

Misconceptions

A number of misconceptions about neutering exist. Some people believe that neutering changes a dog's personality or that neutering makes the dog more prone to obesity. While neutering eliminates some negative aggressive behaviour, neutering does not change a dog's personality. Overfeeding and lack of exercise, not neutering, lead to obesity.

Significance

Dog neutering saves lives because it fights the overpopulation of homeless dogs. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that more than 3 million dogs are euthanized in animal shelters because there were more dogs than available homes.

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