Dog Castration: a step by step guide to the operation (2022)

by Jenny Sheriff BVM&S MRCVS

Deciding whether to castrate your dog: Pros & Cons

Castrating or neutering a male dog is an operation requiring a general anaesthetic. Both testicles are removed. As with all operations, the advantages and disadvantages should be considered carefully before deciding. Your own vet is the best person to advise you about your particular dog, but the following general advice may also help.

The main advantages of castrating a male dog are the prevention of breeding, prevention of testicular cancer, reduction in the risk of prostate problems (including prostate cancer) and modification of certain behaviours.

Only behaviours which are related to male hormone levels will be improved, so castration is never an alternative to proper socialisation and training. For example, a tendency to escape and run away will improve if your dog is chasing the scent of a bitch in season, but not if your dog is just untrained and wilful. An aggressive dog can be improved by castration if the cause is related to his male hormone levels, but not if your dog has not been well socialised and is afraid of people and other dogs.

The main disadvantages of having your dog castrated are the risks associated with any general anaesthetic and any operation, but these are very small risks when compared to the potential benefits.

Dog owners often ask whether their dog’s character will be changed by castration. In my opinion, it is unchanged unless it is a change for the better (as in certain behaviours mentioned above). Another common worry is that a dog will become overweight and lethargic after castration, but this is 100% preventable with the correct diet and exercise.

Deciding when to castrate

The best age to castrate depends on the reason for doing so. If it is a planned procedure, it might well be carried out at 9-12 months of age; if your vet is happy that your dog is physically mature enough. Where dog castration is advised for behavioural reasons, it might not be obvious until 1-2 years of age that there is a need for it. When castration is carried out later in life, the positive changes might not be quite so great, but your dog is never too old to castrate if there is a medical reason for it, like a testicular tumour.

Dogs with one or both testicles not descended

During development, the testicles move down from inside the abdomen into the scrotum. Usually both will have descended into the scrotum by the time a puppy is seen for vaccinations at around 2 months of age. If one or both testicles have not descended into the scrotum, this will need to be checked later.

(Video) Spay/Neuter Patient Care: Patient Prep - Canine

If either or both of the testicles stays inside the abdomen, they will be at greater risk of developing cancer in later life, so castration is usually advised. The operation to remove an undescended testicle is a more complicated operation than removal from the scrotum. (see The Operation). A dog which has one undescended testicle is called monorchid. If he has two undescended testicles, he is called a cryptorchid.

Read:Ask a vet online: my dog only has one testicle down, what is the best age to have him neutered?

Dog Castration: a step by step guide to the operation (1)

Check your pets symptoms

Symptom Checker

Before the operation

Your vet will want to check that your dog is in good general health, is the correct weight and has two fully descended testicles in the scrotum.

(Video) Dog Neuter Video - Canine Castration

Another important way of minimising risks is by taking a blood test before the anaesthetic. This could be done on the day of the operation or a few days earlier. This is used to check the liver and kidney function (both vital when dealing with anaesthetic drugs) and to rule out any unsuspected illnesses.

Before going to the surgery

Before any anaesthetic the dog should be starved for a number of hours, according to the instructions of the surgery. Having an empty stomach prevents any problems with vomiting which could be dangerous. It is also a good idea to allow your dog enough exercise to empty the bladder and bowels. Apart from that, it is best to stick as closely as possible to the normal routines of the day so that the dog does not feel anxious.

Being admitted for surgery

On arrival at the surgery, you can expect to be seen by a vet or a veterinary nurse who will check that you understand the nature of the operation and will answer any questions you may have. They will ask you to read and to sign a consent form for the procedure and ask you to supply contact phone numbers. This is very important in case anything needs to be discussed with the owner before or during the operation.

Before the anaesthetic

Your dog will be weighed to help calculate the dosages of drugs and given a physical examination including checking his heart. If a pre-anaesthetic blood test has not already been done, it can be done now and the results checked before proceeding. If any abnormalities are found, these will be discussed with the owner before deciding whether the operation goes ahead or not. One possible outcome is that extra precautions such as intravenous fluids may be given.

A pre-med, which is usually a combination of several drugs, will be given by injection. This begins to make the dog feel a bit sleepy and ensures that pain relief will be as effective as possible.

The anaesthetic

There are several ways in which this can be given, but the most common is by an injection into the vein of the front leg. The effects of the most commonly used drugs are very fast, but don’t last for very long, so a tube is placed into the windpipe to allow anaesthetic gas and oxygen to be given. The anaesthetic gas allows the right level of anaesthesia to be maintained safely for as long as necessary.

Various pieces of equipment will then be connected up to monitor the anaesthetic. This is a skilled job which would usually be carried out by a qualified veterinary nurse. Apart from the operating table, the instruments and the anaesthetic machine, a lot of specialised equipment will be on “stand by” in case it is needed.

The area where the surgical incision is to be made will be prepared by clipping and thorough cleaning to make it as close to sterile as possible. The usual site of the incision for castration is not through the scrotum but just in front of it.

(Video) Spay or Neuter Female Dog(1/2)

The operation

While the dog is being prepared for surgery as mentioned above, the surgeon will be “scrubbing up” and putting on sterile clothing (gown, gloves, hat & mask). The surgical instruments will have been sterilised in advance and are opened and laid out at the start of the operation.

The operation involves removal of both testicles. They are removed by cutting carefully through the skin just in front of the scrotum, and through the various layers which cover the testicle. The very large blood vessels and the spermatic cord have to be tied carefully before cutting, allowing removal of the testicle. The layers are then closed up with sutures, which may be visible on the surface or may be buried. Further drugs can now be given as needed.

Dog Castration: a step by step guide to the operation (2)

If one or both testicles are not in the usual place, the operation to remove them is more fiddly. Occasionally a testicle can be partly descended so that it lies in the groin area, and can be removed in a similar way to a normal testicle but through a separate skin incision. If the testicle is still lying right inside the abdomen, it can only be removed by opening up the abdomen, which is a much bigger operation for your dog and needs a longer recovery time. These testicles are often abnormally small, so can be hard to locate as well.

When the operation is finished, the gas anaesthetic is reduced and the dog begins to wake up. He will be constantly monitored and the tube removed from his windpipe when he reaches the right level of wakefulness.

Recovery

Your dog will be placed in a warm kennel with soft bedding and watched closely during recovery. Most dogs will feel very drowsy at first and will take most of the day to sleep off the effects of the anaesthetic. Your dog will only be allowed to come home when he is awake enough to stand and walk unaided.

After-care

Full instructions should be given by the surgery concerning after-care, including when your dog can be offered food and water. The most important things would be to check the appearance of the wound, to prevent your dog from licking it (with a plastic bucket-collar if necessary) and to limit his exercise by keeping him on the lead. Any concerns of any kind should be raised with the surgery.

The scrotum is not removed during surgery, so it can appear at first as if nothing has been removed, especially if there is a little swelling after the operation. However, the scrotum will gradually shrink as time goes by. If you are not sure whether the amount of swelling after the operation is normal or not, always telephone your surgery for advice.

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Any medication supplied should be given according to the instructions. Pain relief can be given by tablets or liquid on the food. Antibiotics are not always needed but may be supplied if there is a need for them.

Usually, there will be stitches in the skin which need to be removed after about 10 days, but sometimes these are concealed under the surface and will dissolve by themselves. Your surgery will arrange an appointment for any follow-up checks that are needed.

The effects of castration can take a few weeks to be seen. If your dog is being castrated to prevent breeding, it is important to realise that he may still be fertile for a while after castration.

If all goes to plan, your dog should feel quite normal within about 1-2 weeks of the operation, or a little longer if the testicles were internal.

Click here for information on the bitch spay operation – female dog neutering

Dog Castration: a step by step guide to the operation (3)

Check your dog's symptoms

Dog Symptom Checker

(Video) Canine Spay

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FAQs

What is the procedure for dog castration? ›

The surgery consists of making a small incision in front of the scrotum and removing the testicles. Many veterinarians use absorbable internal sutures so that you do not have to return your dog to the hospital to have them removed.

How long does a dog castration take? ›

The procedure is done under general anesthesia and is completed in just five to 20 minutes. In most cases, you will take your dog to be neutered early in the morning and get him back later in the day after the anesthesia wears off. Neutering is a quick procedure.

How long does it take for a male dog to recover from castration? ›

Plan for 2 Weeks of Care

Your pet will need a minimum of two weeks or more to fully heal from spaying and neutering. Many pet owners think that the neutering of male dogs is a simpler procedure and therefore has a quicker recovery time.

What happens to a dogs balls after being neutered? ›

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.

How do I comfort my dog after neutering? ›

How can I help my dog feel more comfortable after spaying or neutering?
  1. Have a quiet place for your dog to rest and recover indoors, away from other animals.
  2. Put your dog in a cone (Elizabethan collar) or postoperative jumpsuit (recovery suit) to prevent him or her from licking the incision site.
Sep 30, 2021

When can I walk my dog after castration? ›

How long after neutering before we can take our dog out for walks? We would usually advise that you keep your dog rested for 24-48 hours post surgery with just gentle exercise in the garden. After this we would then advise short lead walks until they are seen for their post op check.

Where should my dog sleep after being neutered? ›

Make sure you place your dog in a quiet place, in dim light, during the recovery process. The bed must be comfortable and the room temperature should be pleasant. If you have other pets at home or children, keep them away from your dog.

How long after castration does a dog calm down? ›

Dogs that have been neutered will not be free of hormonal behavior issues right away. This is because in most cases, it can take anywhere from two to four weeks, and sometimes even as long as six weeks, for all the hormones to leave your dog's body.

Do male dogs change after being neutered? ›

Behavioral changes are more pronounced among neutered males. They're less likely to hump people, other dogs, and inanimate objects (though many persist). Males tend to wander and urine mark less, and aggression may be diminished in dogs who previously were.

Do dogs balls shrink after neuter? ›

The scrotum is not removed during surgery, so it can appear at first as if nothing has been removed, especially if there is a little swelling after the operation. However, the scrotum will gradually shrink as time goes by.

Why isnt my dog peeing after neutering? ›

The most common reason your dog is not peeing after surgery, spaying, or neutering, is often due to a reduced intake of water and pain or tenderness in the groin area. Your dog may also be reluctant to pee if they've had orthopedic surgery or a procedure that affects their mobility.

Can my dog sleep in a cone? ›

Yes – dogs can sleep, eat, drink, pee, and poop with a cone on. In fact, the stricter you are with the cone (officially called an Elizabethan collar or E-collar for short), the quicker your dog will get used to it.

Why do dogs cry after being neutered? ›

Some amount of pain is a normal for dogs that have been spayed immediately following their procedure. While some dogs are able to tolerate pain more than others, don't be surprised if your dog whines or whimpers after being spayed. It's perfectly normal for dogs to whine after being spayed.

Can dog jump on bed after neuter? ›

Keep your dog from strenuous jumping for at least a month after she is spayed. Male dogs can return to normal activity after 14 days after a standard neuter surgery. If your male dog had abdominal surgery to remove an undescended testicle, wait at least a month before you allow him to jump vigorously.

How do I stop my dog jumping up after surgery? ›

Here are a few tips.
  1. You do the work. When possible, carry your pet up and down stairs, or over any more challenging obstacles. ...
  2. Get out the crate. ...
  3. Keep your dog on a short leash. ...
  4. Skip the walks and playtime. ...
  5. No jumping on the furniture. ...
  6. A room with a view. ...
  7. Exercise for the mind. ...
  8. Cuddles, cuddles and more cuddles.
Oct 16, 2019

Do male dogs get depressed after being neutered? ›

Neutering is a reasonably safe process; however, you can expect sharp changes in your dog's attitude right when you bring them home from the procedure. These side effects can range from increased aggression, depression, anxiety, or even clinginess; however, they only last for a short amount of time.

What is the best age to neuter a male dog? ›

When to Neuter. The traditional age for neutering is six to nine months. However, puppies as young as eight weeks can be neutered as long as there aren't other health problems. An adult dog can be neutered at any time but there is a larger risk of complications.

Do they remove the balls when neutering a dog? ›

The operation involves removal of both testicles. They are removed by cutting carefully through the skin just in front of the scrotum, and through the various layers which cover the testicle. The very large blood vessels and the spermatic cord have to be tied carefully before cutting, allowing removal of the testicle.

Do male dogs change after being neutered? ›

It is a common, safe, operation that is done to significantly reduce the risks of testicular cancer, prostate disease, and other dangerous health conditions. There is no other physical change to the dog's appearance.

Do they leave the sack when they neuter a dog? ›

The scrotal sac is left intact, but it usually disappears within a few months. After surgery, your dog will be kept overnight to allow him to wake up quietly and completely from anesthesia in a monitored environment. You will be able to pick him up after 10 a.m. the following day.

What is the best age to neuter a male dog? ›

When to Neuter. The traditional age for neutering is six to nine months. However, puppies as young as eight weeks can be neutered as long as there aren't other health problems. An adult dog can be neutered at any time but there is a larger risk of complications.

Where should my dog sleep after being neutered? ›

Make sure you place your dog in a quiet place, in dim light, during the recovery process. The bed must be comfortable and the room temperature should be pleasant. If you have other pets at home or children, keep them away from your dog.

Why does my dog stink after being neutered? ›

Dog spay/neuter infection symptoms include: Redness around the incision site. Discharge from the incision, particularly if it's not clear and thin. A foul smell emanating from the incision.

How long after a dog is neutered will he calm down? ›

We expect normal, age-appropriate, behavioral development for dogs after spay or neuter surgery. This means that some dogs will “calm down” over the next few months, while others may take years to calm down.

Why are my dog's balls black after neutering? ›

Bruising - occasional pets will experience more or less extensive bruising in the scrotal area after neutering. This is thought to occur as a result of “seeping” of severed microscopic blood vessels under the skin. This occurrence is more common in light colored pets, middle aged and older pets, and large breed dogs.

Is 2 years old too late to neuter a dog? ›

Is it too late to neuter my older dog? No, in most cases neutering is a very safe and worthwhile operation, regardless of age.

Can I neuter my dog at 5 years old? ›

5 years is not too old to be neutered. Some behaviors are induced by hormones , and they can also turn into habits independent from hormonal activity, Will he stop roaming?

Can you neuter a dog at 2 years old? ›

It is best for dogs and cats to be spayed/neutered before puberty which can be as early as 5 months old. We prefer 3 to 4 months old for dogs and cats: the procedure is minimally invasive at this age and patients make a quick recovery. How young is too young? The minimum requirement is 2 pounds.

Videos

1. [Promotional video] 'Castration Surgery' 3D Surgery Training
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2. How To Care For Dogs After Spay Neuter
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3. How to Castrate a Dog – Top 5 Essentials by Vet Expert Dr. Brendan Clarke
(Bella and Duke)
4. Dog Neuter Surgery | A walkthrough of the surgical procedure
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5. Castration & Spay of a Dog - 4. Sterile Prep
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6. Cat Neuter Surgery | A walkthrough of the surgical procedure
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