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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ask the Vet, with Dr. Pat: Neutoring an Older Dog--Good idea?

by Pat Bradley, DVM
(c) Carrie Boyko
Neutored Male Dogs
Generally Live Happier, Healthier Lives

Dear Dr. Pat:
My male dog Emerit is 8 years old and has never been altered. He has always had issues with other male dogs and I have been told it is because he was not neutered. Is it safe to neuter a dog at this age? What would you recommend I do?
Thank you, Abby
Hi Abby,

It’s true that unaltered (intact) male dogs tend to be more aggressive in general, and with other male dogs specifically.  Neutoring Emerit now is likely to help alleviate some of his issues, but maybe not all of them.  Many dog behaviors are the result of habit, and 8 years is a long time for an animal to have a habit of territoriality.
My husband and I have a long-standing joke which goes like this:  He says, “Nothing puts a smile on Dr. Bradley’s face like a castration”, to which I reply “I’m making the world a better place, one surgery at a time.”

Although it’s possible that I have more than a touch of feminism inside me, my attitude comes about because I really LIKE males, not because I don’t. Think of it this way:

Every time a female dog goes into heat, she emits scent hormones (pheromones) that travel for miles.  To a male dog who can’t stop his sense of smell, this is equivalent to having a female porn star performing within 3 feet of a man’s face 24 hours a day without him being able to close his eyes.  It can make for a very edgy guy, if you get my drift -- one that’s more likely to stir up trouble.

After neutering, the male dog may still smell the pheromones, but with his hormones gone it’s more like, well, a man watching a cheap porn flick on a bad TV screen across the room. It’s simply a lot less compelling; that football game on the other channel actually seems a lot more attractive…

As far as safety goes, surgeries are simply much safer today than they were 30 years ago.  Pre-op and post-op care has been greatly improved, and anesthetics are much safer.  It’s quite likely that the surgery and recovery would go fine.  And although there is some evidence that intact animals can be healthier, in my experience, the majority of animals seem to thrive after neutering.  The outcome of the surgery depends, of course, on Emerit’s overall health.  But unless there is a compelling reason not to have him altered, I’d recommend it.


(c) courtesy p.b.

Have a question for Dr. Pat? You can reach us at LetsAdoptaDogPark@gmail.comFor a personal consultation about your pet's needs, visit Holistic Veterinary Services.

Dr. Pat's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian.

Looking for more information to help as your dog ages? Amazon has a variety of books on senior dogs and their healthcare. This one appears to be quite popular with customers there:


niki said...

I had a little 12 yr old mill dog neutered, was fine... I had a little 8 month old dachs heart quit while on the table, but doc was great and brought him back... Docs will do blood tests if thre are health concerns. If you trust your vet, and your dog is healthy, only other thing you have to work on after is making sure you work on temperment issues< like the doc says yrs of behavior to break.. Like us Humans, we all are a work in progress.. And I have noticed in rescuing that Neutering always helped the starting process... Good Luck!!

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