The medical term for a neuter procedure is orchiectomy, and involves the complete laser surgical removal of both testicles. Not only does this sterilize your pet and prevent them from fathering puppies, it reduces hormone driven behaviors, and helps reduce the risk of illnesses caused by a lifetime of exposure to the hormone testosterone. Another term used to specifically designate the neutering of male animals is castration.
Without these organs, your pet cannot develop testicular cancer. As your pet matures, their testicles may not fully descend from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum as they are supposed to, causing a condition known as cryptorchidism. This may occur to one, or both, testicles. Cryptorchidism may be caused by a genetic defect, or may be a result of premature birth and low birth weight. Cryptorchidism reduces a pet’s ability to produce sperm, and makes them poor studs, as well as increases their risk of testicular cancers since the retained testicle still produces testosterone. The only cure for cryptorchidism is surgical neutering.
Because the scrotum atrophies when the testicles are removed, the possibility of your pet developing the painful condition known as an inguinal hernia is also greatly reduced, if not totally eliminated, when they are surgically neutered. An inguinal hernia is when a portion of the small intestine slips through the small opening between the scrotum and abdomen, and is trapped in this space, preventing food from moving through the digestive tract. Inguinal hernias can cause serious complications in pets, making them very high-risk surgical cases that require Intensive Care recovery. Without timely surgical correction, inguinal hernias can become seriously infected, and cause your pet to become septic as the infection spreads to other organs in the body.
The reduction in the lifetime exposure to testosterone reduces your pet’s risk of developing prostate cancer later in life. The chance of developing other testosterone related tumors, such as perianal tumors, is also reduced.
Reducing testosterone production helps in preventing hormone driven behaviors most associated with being an intact male dog, such as roaming, marking, excessive vocalizing, aggression, and fighting with other male dogs. Be aware that behaviors have as much a psychological and emotional basis as they do a hormonal one, and the reduction of testosterone will not eliminate all unwanted behaviors once those behaviors have become established as habits, but neutering is recommended as the first step towards addressing unwanted behavior concerns.
The best time to neuter your small to medium sized dog (5lbs to 49lbs) to reduce their lifetime risk of developing testicular cancer or behavioral difficulties later in life is between 6 months to 8 months of age. For large and giant breed dogs with the prospect of being 50lbs or more as full-grown adults, the recommended age for neutering is after 1 year to 1.5 years old. The reason for waiting longer to neuter a large or giant breed dog is due to reducing their risk of developing some types of cancer, as well as allowing testosterone to develop muscles that support hips and joints to reduce overall complications with arthritis later in life. Many giant breed dogs do not reach full growth maturity until 2 years of age, therefore neutering them too early does not allow for full muscle development, as testosterone contributes to muscle growth. Male cats should be neutered between 6 months to 8 months of age before the development of secondary sexual characteristics (large head) and sexual behaviors (spraying and roaming).
An orchiectomy is far from a routine surgical procedure, as each patient is different and requires different anesthesia and surgical protocols to make their surgery as risk-free as possible for them. Your pet will receive multi-modal pain management, including a session of our therapy laser, during their laser surgery with us, and pain medication to go home with, to make their post-operative recovery as comfortable as possible for them. While it may seem as if your pet is ready to go as soon as they are discharged, remember, they just underwent an extensive surgical procedure, and should be given the time necessary to heal properly so as to prevent complications during their recovery.
All surgical and anesthesia procedures come with a certain degree of risk. At the Suffolk Veterinary Group Laser Surgical Center, by taking our time to assess your pet as an individual, perform pre-surgical exam consultations and blood work, requiring all PetCare Team members involved in our surgical services to carry a professional license, and reviewing your pet’s medical history in its entirety, we strive to minimize those risks as much as possible. Because we believe that your pet deserves to be treated with respect, at the Suffolk Veterinary Group Laser Surgical Center we don’t compromise your pet’s health or safety during surgery by reducing our quality of medicine, or creating “assembly line” styles of providing care. Your pet receives their own surgical time, sterilized surgical tools in individual packs designed to be used only on a single patient, and 100% of our attention while they are under anesthesia and recovery with us.