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The health risks that result from the removal of reproductive hormones in young growing dogs is a topic of recent research. It suggests that there may be benefit of continued reproductive hormone production by dogs and even risks related to the lack of these hormones. These potential risks, along with other concerns about spaying and neutering, have led pet owners to look for alternatives to traditional neutering in male dogs (commonly referred to as castration).
One option to the traditional castration procedure is a vasectomy. (An alternative to a traditional spay is a hysterectomy.) This article will compare a traditional castration procedure vs. a vasectomy in dogs and the potential risks.
What is a Vasectomy vs. a Traditional Castration?
The procedure usually referred to in dogs as “neutering” is castration, a procedure during which the testicles are removed. This removes not only a dog’s ability to breed but also their ability to produce hormones such as testosterone. This is a very common procedure and has been performed with increasing frequency in dogs as young as 6 to 8 weeks old.
In contrast, a vasectomy in dogs is a surgical procedure where the tube which carries sperm out of the testicle (called the vas deferens) is clamped, cut, or sealed. This prevents sperm from being ejaculated out of the body, thus preventing a male dog’s ability to breed. The testicle will still produce sperm but it is reabsorbed by the body. After a vasectomy the testicles are left intact, allowing reproductive hormone function to continue normally. A vasectomy can be performed to prevent breeding and subsequent population control while leaving the testicles to allow normal hormonal development.
Benefits and Risks
There are benefits to traditional castration. It is typically inexpensive and quick. Because it is so common, many surgeons are very adept at performing it. The castration procedure was also thought to minimize the risk of prostate problems in dogs.
More recent evidence suggests, however, that intact dogs who are not neutered may have fewer health problems than pets that are. The issue of pet overpopulation is still severe that despite this information, sterilizing a pet is still considered a crucial part of responsible pet ownership.
Dogs with a vasectomy will experience the same reproductive urges as intact dogs and retain their desire to mate. It can take several months after the vasectomy surgery for all the sperm to be ejaculated or reabsorbed; therefore, dogs can remain fertile and able to reproduce for a period of time. Dogs should be prevented from roaming or having contact with intact female dogs for 2 to 6 months after the vasectomy procedure is performed.
Vasectomy in dogs is becoming a more common option for owners that want to prevent overpopulation but are afraid of the negative aspects of neutering. It allows for normal hormone development and may have additional health benefits as a result.
We hope this article on vasectomy trends in animal health gives you more information about vasectomy as an alternative to traditional neutering in dogs.