Early castration in dogs: benefits and risks
Early castration in dogs is definitely a controversial topic. Moreover, early spay and neuter in dogs is controversially discussed. In order to protect the overall health of dogs (males and females), it is very important to consider the appropriate age at which a dog should be castrated.
Cats are being neutered to avoid the unwanted litter. In dogs, however, castration is anything but self-evident. Vets are afraid that early neutering prevents the dog from developing a healthy gender identity, which can lead to behavioral problems, particularly in interacting with other dogs. On the other hand, advocates claim that early neutering reduces the risk of cancer.
Early spaying of bitches can reduce cancer risk
If you decide to castrate your dog, you should consult your veterinarian about early neutering before the bitch reaches sexual maturity (before the first heat cycle). Early castration of your dog not only prevents the unwanted progeny, but also reduces the risk of breast cancer (mammary cancer). Treatment of a malignant tumor usually involves surgery.
In addition, a castration can prevent uterine suppuration and other diseases of the uterus and ovaries.
Early castration in bitches and psychological effects
In general, a heat cycle in bitches can cause great stress, especially when they cannot satisfy their sex drive. Some even develop a so-called false pregnancy (pseudo-pregnancy), due to a hormonal imbalance. The symptoms may last for more than a month, depending on the severity. Early castration does not allow the sexual drive to occur. In addition, castrated bitches are generally more playful and peaceful in their dealings with their conspecifics than uncastrated bitches.
Risks of early castration in bitches
Castrated females run the risk of urinary incontinence. The risk of this particular disease is higher in larger dog breeds (20 kg body weight) rather than in smaller dogs. Note that urinary incontinence can be treated with a variety of medication, but affected dogs have to take this all their lives. After neutering, the Irish Red Setter and the Spaniel can suffer from a so-called disease “baby coat”, because the growth of the fibers is accelerated. However, early neutered dos are less likely to develop this disease. In addition, you have to adhere to a strict feeding plan, which is adapted to the needs of castrated dogs, both females and males. The animals become calmer and at the same time they have an increased appetite. For this reason, it is extremely important that you do not overfeed the dog, or it will gain weight. Also, feel free to discuss this modified feed requirements with your veterinarian.
What is the benefit of early castration in males?
Males do not develop sexual aggression through early castration, so they are less likely to argue with their conspecifics. Moreover, they are more playful and tolerant. In the case of a later castration, this advantage is less important because your dog has already experienced and learned sexual impulses. In general, castration also prevents the marking in the house and keeps the quadruped from straying.
However, the risk of cancer in males cannot be significantly reduced by castration at young age.
Castration in males: Possible disadvantages
Neutered dogs usually approach their conspecifics peacefully, but unfortunately this is not necessarily the other way around. Uncastrated males tend to sniff neutered dogs and want to ride them up. This can be rather intrusive and unpleasant for the latter and can even cause aggression, which is actually a defense mechanism. However, neutering prevents only sexually motivated aggression, but not those of fear and insecurity.
Photo credit: Gareth Williams/Flickr