dog with tie

Neutering is Best

Question:
Recently a neighbor got a dog from a shelter and “Rowdy” was a what ‘appeared’ to be an intact male. But the new owner said that was how males can be neutered now, just ‘clipped’ but not the testicles removed. I thought the idea of neutering was to not only prevent breeding but also to reduce prostate cancer? Is this the new neutering procedure for male dogs and how now can one tell if a male dog has been neutered?

Dr. Nichol:
Your neighbor may be confusing surgical removal of the testicles with a vasectomy or neutering by injection. Any of these methods would sterilize Rowdy but only surgery would make his status clear to neighbors with binoculars and inquiring minds. Removal of Rowdy’s testicles would essentially eliminate his risk of prostate disease as well as hernias and tumors of the rear end (perianal adenomas).

Vasectomies are seldom done for dogs. Sometimes called being “clipped” it means that the vas deferens (the tube that carries sperm from the testicles) have been cut and permanently tied off. If Rowdy has had a vasectomy he won’t be able to father puppies but he could still be the dog-about-town. Always the ladies’ man, a vasectomized dog would maintain his skills at fence jumping in pursuit of the young and the restless. Because of his continued production of testosterone (male hormone) Rowdy would still be at risk of male-related diseases.

Vasectomy is not a new method of pet sterilization. In my practice I have only performed them on dogs parented by bohemians, men or women, who want their dogs to share their free-spirited lifestyles. This minor surgery accomplishes reliable population control while these cads retain their studly character.

There is a relatively new neutering procedure that employs a drug called Zeuterin (zinc gluconate) that’s injected directly into the testicles of 3-10 month old male dogs. Injectable neutering eliminates sperm production and reduces testosterone but the procedure requires special training. Some dogs can experience serious pain and swelling following this treatment. Their testicles atrophy but, well, at least they still have them. Surgical neutering is still our best preventive medicine.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.