Neutering Your Labrador
Here at Labradorforums.co.uk, we have put together the following article, as a guide to help you understand the reasons behind Labrador neutering, and what is involved. Our aim is to give you a general guide, however, if there is anything you are unsure of, we recommend that you contact your vet for further advice. If you own a Labrador , and do not wish to breed, it is important to consider having him or her neutered. This procedure reduces the large number of unwanted puppies and leads to fewer stray dogs roaming the streets. Neutering your dog can also have health advantages, especially when they get older.
What is Neutering?
Technically, neutering refers to the removal of the reproductive organs on both male and female animals. Neutering or 'spaying' a female animal involves removing the womb and ovaries (an ovario-hysterectomy). Males are castrated - the testicles are removed.
Why Should I Get My Labrador Neutered ?
Here are a few good reasons to get your labrador neutered:
· Spaying a female dog eliminates the possibility of her getting uterine and ovarian cancer. It also reduces the possibility of mammary cancer.
· Neutering a male reduces the chances that he will get prostate cancer and eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer.
· You are helping to alleviate the dog overpopulation problem. Each year, millions of unwanted dogs are put to sleep at shelters across the country. Many of these are the result of accidental breeding by free-roaming unaltered dogs. The more dogs spayed or neutered, the fewer will have to be destroyed.
· By neutering a male dog early in life, it is said that they are less aggressive towards other males and are not distracted by females in heat. Therefore, a neutered male will be less tempted to leave your side searching for a mate. Neutered males are also less likely to mark their territory. By neutering your female dog, will eliminate any problem of stray males coming into your garden, and also decreases her desire to roam and breed.
· An un-neutered female dog usually comes into season (heat) twice a year. Seasons typically last for about 3-4 weeks and during this time she will become receptive to the advances of the male dogs in your area. She may also roam – seeking a mate, and despite your best efforts accidents do happen!
The only behaviour changes that are noted after neutering relate to behaviours influenced by male hormones i.e. aggression/dominance.
Playfulness, friendliness, and socialization with people are not affected.
There are certain times when the risks of surgery are greater for bitches, such as while they are in season, if they have a womb infection or if they are not in good general health. Your vet will give your dog a complete examination and decide when the best time would be to neuter. Many people opt for a pre-anaesthetic blood test – which costs around £20 - £30 which will show your dog is in optimum health and has no under-lying kidney/liver disease for example which would affect the anaesthetic.
Before going ahead with neutering your labrador, it is always best to discuss the pros and cons with your vet first.
When Should I Get My labrador Neutered?
The longer you wait to neuter your dog the longer it will take for his body to be rid of the testosterone in his muscles. This is why it is important to neuter your dog at a younger age. The average age to neuter your dog is six months. You should consult with your vet as to the right time to schedule this procedure since there is some disagreement about the appropriate age to do this.
For the bitch, many people prefer to wait until after the first season to give the bitch time to reach full sexual maturity. A lot of vets recommend as soon as the bitch is 6 months old to stop them getting pregnant. Some vets nowadays will spay as early as 4 months – the surgery is easier however vets have different practice policies and each dog is an individual case.
How Is Neutering Done Surgically?
An incision is made, generally just in front of the scrotum. The testicles are then removed through this incision. The blood vessels are tied off and cut. Castration is achieved. The skin incision will have either dissolvable stitches or non-dissolvable white nylon which will need removal in 10 days.
For bitches, (often called Spaying) a 2 to 3 inch incision is made in the abdomen, the entire uterus and the ovaries are then removed. The incision is then closed by stitching the various layers and finally the skin back together. Sometimes the incisions are bigger – it depends on the vet operating.
How Will My labrador Be After He/She is Discharged?
For the dog, the scrotum is often swollen in the first few days after surgery. If the dog is immature at the time of neutering, the empty scrotum will flatten out as he grows. If he is mature at the time of neuter, the empty scrotum will remain as a flap of skin. Sometimes the incision is mildly bruised, but pain relief is almost never necessary post neuter. Most male dogs are eager to play by the day after surgery but to keep the incision intact; it is best to restrict the dog from boisterous activity. Your vet will advise you when your dog has to go back to have a post-op check up.
For the bitch it is crucial to rest her for 10 days and observe her carefully the first night after surgery . People do under-estimate the surgery involved – any unusual signs such as vomiting, shaking, hunched in pain, pale gums, bleeding – should be reported immediately to your vet.
It is important that you do not feed or give your dog water for the first hour after getting home. Many dogs are very excited on returning home and sometimes make themselves ill by eating or drinking too much right after they arrive home. Feed a bland meal such as chicken/rice/pasta and offer small drinks of water.
Confine your labrador to the house if possible, and take them out on leash walks only for 10 days . No jumping up/running upstairs is allowed as this will put strain on the wound and healing muscles beneath and is very dangerous. Prevent her from licking and biting the stitches. Even a few licks can cause an infection – use a buster collar or an old t-shirt to prevent this if needed. Finally, you will have to make an appointment for a post-op check which is generally a day or two after the surgery and then an appointment around 10 -14 days to have the stitches removed .
My dog will get fat and lazy
Inactivity and poor feeding habits are generally the culprits in your dog's weight gain. However some dogs can have a tendency to gain weight after neutering due to the changes in metabolism. Feed a good quality food, give your labrador exercise and adjust the food level to your labrador's activity level. Monitor your dog's weight every few weeks after neutering until the weight plateaus and adjust the food intake accordingly.
My dog's personality will change
The change will be for the better as explained above.
We can make money selling the puppies
The cost of raising a litter properly will consume the majority of your "profit." There are too many puppies that need homes. Why contribute to this? Finding good homes can be difficult.
I'm concerned about the anesthestic
This is a common concern. There is always a risk with any procedure that requires the anesthestic. Many vets use monitors to kept track of heart rate and respiration during surgery. Talk to you vet about your concerns. Ensure your are registered with a competent vet in a recommended practice.
The medical benefits far outweigh the slight risk involved with spaying or neutering.
Is it best to let my labrador have one litter first?
No, this is a myth. There is no good reason for letting a dog produce a litter and the normal health risks associated with birth and pregnancy can sometimes be harmful.
Labradorforums.co.uk contains general advice on Labrador-related matters, if there is anything you are unsure about we would always recommend that you speak to your vet. We regret that we cannot accept any responsibility for acts or omissions based on the following advice which is intended as a general introduction to Labrador-related problems only.