What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?

What Happens When You Neuter Your Dog
What Happens When You Neuter Your Dog

Pet parents commonly have questions about what occurs when a pet is neutered. Below, we will review the process before, during, and after the surgery.

Neuter is a Latin word that refers to the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term “neuter” is often used improperly to refer only to the castration of male animals, however, the same process occurs when a female dog is spayed. For the purposes of this article, we will use the term neuter to describe the process for males.

Why Dog Neutering Is Important

Neutering can prevent the death of unwanted animals and is an extremely simple procedure.

Neutering your dog:

  • Removes the risk of pregnancy.
  • Results in a calmer dog that is less likely to roam and has fewer aggression issues.
  • Eliminates or minimizes health issues such as prostate problems, breast cancer in females, uterine cancer, and uterine infections.
  • If testicles have failed to descend into the scrotum, neutering can reduce the risk of cancer associated with this problem.

What Happens When You Neuter a Dog

The male neutering procedure, medically known as castration or orchiectomy, is a surgical procedure in which both testicles are removed from the dog’s body.

What to Expect the Day Before Surgery

Your veterinarian will provide you with recommendations on what you can do the day before surgery. For most dogs, they will recommend that you not feed them after 6 p.m. or give water after midnight the night before surgery. This may vary slightly as some toy breed dogs may be offered food later to prevent low blood sugar problems (hypoglycemia).

If your dog is taking medication, ask your vet if they want you to give the medication the morning of surgery. If your dog is diabetic, discuss the insulin dose you should give with your vet prior to the morning of the neuter. Plan to bring any medications your dog is taking with you in case your vet decides to administer them.

What to Expect the Day of Surgery

Below is what happens at many veterinary hospitals, but the exact procedure may vary depending on your veterinary and the individual hospital.

  • When you arrive at the veterinary hospital, they will likely ask you to sign a surgery consent form that confirms the exact procedure to be performed. It will also include routine questions about your desire for baseline blood work, if you would like your dog microchipped (if not already done), and any other procedures, such as removal of baby teeth or the repair of an abnormal hernia. Older dogs may also have mass removals performed after a neuter procedure. It is important that the veterinary hospital has an accurate phone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • Once your dog is at the veterinary hospital, they will be taken back to the hospital’s treatment room, where they will then be evaluated by vet techs for any issues. At this time, they will draw blood to ensure that their organs are healthy. If they identify any problems or concerns, the doctor will call you before proceeding.
  • The doctor will examine your dog and give injectable sedation. While they are relaxed, vet techs will shave the leg to place an IV catheter, and give additional drugs that allow total relaxation.
  • Your dog will then be moved into the surgery room. Most dogs are then intubated to deliver safe inhalation anesthesia.
  • Your dog will then be placed on his back, and feet secured to the edges of the table. The technician will proceed to shave the hair on your dog’s belly around the testicles.
  • Disinfectant is then used to gently and thoroughly clean the skin. A sterile drape is placed over the surgical site.
  • Your veterinarian will put on sterile hat and gloves and organize their surgical instruments. An incision is made cranial to the testicles on the mid line, using a scalpel blade or laser. The testicles are then identified and removed.
  • The incision is then closed with one or two layers of self-dissolving sutures, and the outer layer of skin is closed with additional sutures or surgical staples. The actual surgery will only take about 20 to 45 minutes, but may take longer in older or larger dogs.
  • When you pick your dog up from the vet, the veterinary team will provide you with detailed post-op instructions. Your dog may be sent home with pain medication or antibiotics.

How Much Does It Cost To Neuter a Dog?

A dog shelter is often the most cost effective place to get your dog neutered, and some shelters have special pricing. If you have pet insurance, some companies offer “basic care” or “wellness care” coverage that covers routine care such as vaccinations, dental cleaning, and neutering.