Y2SPAY Main : About the Surgery ... : Neutering Your Cat

Neutering Your Cat
By Monte W. Gulzow, DVM

The surgery to remove the male reproductive tract is called an orchidectomy (castration). It is commonly referred to as a "neuter." The surgery removes the testes.

When is this normally done?
Since males do not carry or deliver offspring, reproductive sterilization is often overlooked. However, they are at least half of the problem. Many people feel that removing the reproductive organs of a male will somehow make him a less than desirable pet. This is not true. A neutered pet is a far more desirable pet.

Population control is not our primary goal, however. If it was, then a vasectomy would be enough. There are many more reasons to neuter your pet. Removing the testes also decreases the amount of testosterone. This hormone not only effects the sex organs but can have effects on other organs as well. An intact male has a higher risk of certain types of heart disease. Prostate cancer is common in intact males but significantly decreases in neutered males, as is benign prostatic enlargement. Testosterone also increases aggression. This leads to more injuries secondary to fighting and also increases the spread of diseases. An intact male dog is not a better watch dog. In fact, an intact male is probably more likely to be distracted from his job. Hormonal aggression should not be confused with being a well trained guard dog. It has also been shown that neutered animals are far less likely to be hit by cars, because they do not wander from home as much as intact animals. All these advantages, however, are affected by neutering the animal prior to any hormonal changes. In other words, before puberty.

Our current recommendation is to neuter your pet between 4-6 months of age. Young animals seem to recover more quickly from our anesthetic protocol than older animals do and with less post surgical pain (realize that there are no 100 percent safe anesthetics). Many behavioral problems can be prevented if neuters are done early too. And of course, unwanted pet populations drop when you neuter your pet.

What is done during the surgery?
Orchidectomies are sterile procedures. In other words, they are done in a clean environment with many precautions taken to prevent infections afterwards. You have seen operating rooms in human hospitals or on TV. Most neuters are done in this type of environment. The advent of LASER surgery has allowed veterinarians to perfect traditional techniques, which minimizes bleeding and swelling as well as reducing post surgical pain

The surgery involves removal of the testes and part of the ducts and blood vessels. We use a midline penile approach for dogs and a scrotal incision for cats, but the approach depends on the surgeon's training. The testes are exposed and the blood vessels are clamped and tied to prevent bleeding, then the surgical LASER is used to cut the pedicle. When this is done the organs are removed. After checking for any leakage of blood, the surgical site is closed in the manner that the surgeon has been trained. We try not to use any external sutures if possible. The dog incisions are closed with a surgical glue that not only seals the wound but helps protect it. This glue also reduces the licking that sutures may cause. Cat incisions are left open.

Following anesthetic recovery (usually about an hour after the procedure) he will be monitored for any unusual reactions or bleeding. In most cases, he can go home that evening. Most will eat that night, others will feel nauseated and will not want to eat. He should be eating the next morning.

What should I watch for after the surgery?
Most animals recover rapidly following surgery. Pain post-op is rare in dogs and cats. Older animals may be sore or lethargic for a few days. Some will not eat for a day or two. Most are up and back to normal within three days.

Watch for swelling of the area. There will be some normal swelling from the incision. It should be normal looking skin or have a slight pinkness to it. There should be no discharge or bleeding from the site. On rare occasions, a little clear yellowish fluid may appear. This is not a problem; however, a bloody or thick discharge should be checked. Also if any foul odors occur or the site swells rapidly or appears dark red or purple, please your veterinarian.

If the dog gets the incision open, please call your vet immediately. Licking an open incision will cause an infection. Try not to let your pet lick the surgery area.

If there are any external sutures, you will be required to come back in 14 days to have them removed if you are directed to do so.

"I have heard that a neutered male dog won't be a good hunter or guard dog."
Actually a neutered dog will be a better hunter or guard dog. They have at least one less distraction from the job at hand. A female dog in heat is far more attractive to him than pointing birds or protecting your stereo system. Neutered animals also work better together.

"Neutered animals become fat and lazy."
Neutered animals may be less active than the intact ones, but weight gain does not have to be a side effect of neutering. He will still play if you participate. He will still enjoy leash walks. Exercise is the key.

Y2SPAY Main : About the Surgery ... : Neutering Your Cat