Dog Neuter Surgery, From Start to Finish

What you need to know about this important procedure for male dogs.

Dogs are usually neutered when they are 4 to 6 months old, although dogs of any age can be altered. aspenrock/iStock/Thinkstock
Dogs are usually neutered when they are 4 to 6 months old, although dogs of any age can be altered. aspenrock/iStock/Thinkstock

You recently brought home a wonderful male puppy, and now you need to bring him to a veterinarian for neuter surgery. What will happen during the procedure? How long will your puppy be gone? And most importantly, will he feel pain?

We’ve enlisted several animal welfare organizations including the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Veterinary Medical Association to answer all the questions you may have about this important procedure. For additional information, please talk to your veterinarian.

When should I neuter my dog

  • Between 4 and 6 months of age; however, veterinarians can alter an animal of any age.
  • Some shelters and veterinarians perform juvenile or early-age neuter at 8 to 16 weeks of age.

What are the benefits of neutering my dog?

  • Helps prevent unwanted litters
  • Decreases your dogs chance of developing testicular cancer, prostate disease and infections
  • Decreases your dogs chance of escaping while in search of a mate
  • Decreases the incidence of negative behaviors such howling, inappropriate urination, territoriality and aggression

What happens during neuter surgery?

  • Your veterinarian sedates your dog and puts him under general anesthesia.
  • The attending staff monitors his breathing and heart rate.
  • The surgeon makes a small incision in the front (toward your dogs head) of the scrotum.
  • Each testicle is removed and the blood supply and vas deferens (spermatic cord) are tied off.
  • The veterinarian closes the incision with surgical glue or sutures.

Is the surgery painful?

  • Your dog feels no pain while under general anesthesia, during and immediately following the procedure.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about pain medication for post-operative discomfort.

Are there any risks associated with the surgery?

  • Neuter surgery is not invasive; however, some risk accompanies any procedure that involves anesthesia.
  • Your veterinarian takes many precautions to ensure your dogs safety during the procedure.
  • Pre-anesthesia blood work assesses your dogs liver and kidney function, because these organs break down and remove anesthesia from the body after surgery.

Is it expensive?

Many veterinarians offer neuter services as part of a puppy vaccination package. Some offer a spay and neuter day, with reduced fees for those who demonstrate need. Many shelters and humane organizations provide neuter vouchers or other funding to those in need.

When can my dog come home?

Most dogs go home the same day. If you need to work and can’t stay with your dog when he gets home, ask your veterinarian about an extended stay for observation.

How can I help my dog once he comes home?

  • Keep him quiet and restrict unnecessary activity for at least one day following the procedure.
  • Prevent excessive licking of the incision.
  • Monitor food and water intake according to your veterinarians instructions.

When can my dog resume normal activity?

Most dogs are awake and alert soon after surgery. Some will eat the same day as surgery. Most resume normal activity the next day.

What symptoms should prompt me to call my veterinarian?

  • A reopened incision
  • Abnormal swelling of the incision area (some swelling is normal)
  • Dark red or purple discoloration
  • Bloody or thick discharge from the incision
  • Foul odors from the incision area, which could indicate an infection
  • Continued lethargy, or if your dog doesn’t seem to get better after a few days

Neuter surgery is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and an investment in your dogs long-term health. Have additional questions? Talk to your veterinarian today.

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