One of the most common questions that
new pet parents ask our veterinarians is “When should I get my pet neutered?” Often
they want to do the procedure early, believing it’s an easy surgery that will
have minimal impact on their pet’s health. Actually, there are many
consequences to neutering too early, as well as alternatives to prevent future
health complications. Before making the decision to neuter, pet parents should
consider the following information in order to give their pet the best chance
at a long and healthy life.
Neutering vs. Vasectomy
Neutering is when a veterinarian surgically removes the animal’s
testicles. The process can typically be done within a day, and it has the
immediate effect of making a male completely unable to reproduce with a female.
Typically, since the testicles have been completely removed and its hormones
altered, the pet will have less desire to mate.
Vasectomy is a surgery where a veterinarian removes a portion
of the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm to the testicles. The
testicles themselves remain intact. The pet will still have a desire to mate
after the surgery but will be incapable of reproducing within a few months.
Benefits of Vasectomy
rather than neutering comes with several health advantages.
Decreased risk of obesity: Pets that keep
their testicles have balanced hormones, which lowers their risk of forming
unhealthy eating habits or becoming obese.
Decreased risk of cancer: Proper hormonal
balance lowers the risk of cancer of the heart, spleen, bones and bladder.
Decreased risk of behavioral changes: A pet
with more testosterone is less likely to have anxious behaviors, like
fearfulness and reactivity.
Risks of Neutering
Beyond a basic understanding of the concepts and benefits of
neutering and vasectomy, pet parents should also be aware of the potential
risks of neutering too early.
Behavioral changes: Without testicles
supplying testosterone, the pet could exhibit more signs of fearfulness, clinginess
Increased risk of disease: When the
hormones are unbalanced, the pet has an increased risk of forming hormonal
diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes, Cushing’s and certain cancers.
Increased risk of injury: Neutered pets have
a higher chance of developing hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament ruptures.
Increased risk of obesity: Neutered pets have
a higher chance of becoming overweight.
We highly recommend scheduling a pet to be neutered after 1
year of age; this will allow its body to fully mature naturally and will cause
minimal disruption to its hormonal system. We encourage every pet parent to do
their research and schedule a veterinary exam to discuss the healthiest option
for their pet.
Jorelle Baker is the social media manager, content creator and
webmaster for Holistic
Pet Care, located at 125 Paterson Ave., Little Falls, NJ. For
appointments or information, visit HolisticPetCareNJ.com.