Neutering is a word that refers to essentially making the gender of the pet “neutral,” so to speak, thus it does encompass both males and females. Popularly, however, the term has become used to designate altering the male, while spaying is the term used for altering the female, which we will discuss tomorrow.
Castration (or orchiectomy) is the proper term used for the neutering of the male dog or cat; as in the procedure the testicles are removed. Some people believe that a vasectomy is done, but that is incorrect. The goal is not only to prevent sperm release, but to also eliminate the male sex hormone, testosterone, and the effects it has on the body. Removing the testicles eliminates the risk of testicular cancer as well as sperm production and release. By eliminating the testosterone there is a dramatic reduction in the risk of prostate disease (cancer, infection, benign hypertrophy), perineal hernias (hernias around the anal area), perineal adenomas (growths around the anal area), reduction of the urge for urine marking, calming of aggressive tendencies and sexual behavior. It is recommended to perform the procedure when the dog is 6-7 months of age, before these hormonal behaviors become ingrained in the dog. In addition, the later in life the procedure is done, the risk of developing prostate disease, perineal hernias and adenomas increases. In some instances, especially in shelters, the neutering is done at a much earlier age in puppies/kittens before they are adopted out to guarantee the procedure will be done and not neglected by the adoptive owners.
Some people believe by neutering the male they become fat and inactive, however, this is not the case at all, it is how they are fed and exercised. The most important reason to neuter your male dog is to insure that he will have the best opportunity to lead a long, healthy life without the risk of diseases or complications related to the presence of the male hormone.
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