If you haven’t neutered your canine friend yet, you might be wondering if you’ve left it too long or not. There’s a lot of confusion about the ideal timeframes for this operation – so, when is it too late to neuter a dog?
The term ‘neutering’ is used for a male dog while ‘spaying’ refers to a female dog. Neutering for males and spaying for females are ways to control canine overpopulation. Veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering your dogs to avoid bad habits and to maintain health.
By preventing our pets from unwanted mating, dog owners can help reduce the number of abandoned dogs on the streets, and the amount of unwanted pets in shelters.
What is Neutering?
Neutering is a surgical procedure that can only be performed by a veterinarian in a properly equipped clinic. This is a common procedure that’s performed around the world almost daily by vets.
First, your intact male dog will be put under a general (full) anesthetic. Then the surgery area will be cleaned and clipped, and your dog will be given some initial pain relief.
The vet will then make a small incision at the base of your dog’s penis. Each testicle will be tied off using dissolving stitches, and then removed. If your dog’s testicles haven’t dropped yet, this operation may be a little longer and more complicated, but it’s best to remove the internal testicles to avoid potential problems later on.
Your pet is carefully monitored during the operation, and your vet will call you when your dog is awake again so you can take them home. Depending on the type of stitches your vet uses, you may or may not see them from the outside.
Benefits of neutering your dog
Many pet owners neuter their male dogs to reduce unwanted behaviors like aggression and humping everything!
Neutering your male dog can prevent unwanted pregnancies for female dogs in your home, and it can also improve their quality of life.
It can be beneficial for male dogs to get this operation as it can reduce health risks for them later in life – meaning that you and your furry friends can have a longer life together.
The top reasons to neuter your dog are:
- Reduces the urge to find female dogs
- Assists with population control by preventing unplanned puppies
- Reduces health risks for your pet, such as prostate cancer
- Prevents testicular cancer
- Neutered dogs have fewer unwanted behaviors like roaming, leg-lifting, barking, mounting, and aggressive tendencies towards humans and other dogs
When is the best time to neuter a dog?
The recommended age for a male dog to get neutered safely according to most vets is 5 to 9 months. Many vets agree that operating around the age of sexual maturity is best for most dog breeds.
However, the ASCPA states that all puppies aged eight weeks and over can be safely neutered. At this age they can tolerate the anesthesia and also recover easily.
Again, every situation is different and depends on the situation of your pet. It’s important to discuss your decision with your vet first, as the timing for neutering is based on several different factors, including:
- Breed and size: if your dog is a bigger breed – the vet might suggest neutering them slightly later
- Behavior: although a few unwanted behaviours can be improved or eliminated with neutering – some can actually get worse (e.g. anxiety)
- Weight: Dogs need to be a healthy size to be neutered. Your dog’s life can be put at greater risk under anesthetic if they’e obese, and there are greater chances of complications during surgery
- Existing health issues: if your dog is suffers from specific health conditions, the vet may advise you against neutering altogether
What happens if you neuter too late or early?
There can be advantages of delayed or early neutering – but these vary with the breed and age or your dog. Studies have shown that delayed neutering in large male dogs (around one to two years of age) could have health advantages. In smaller breed dogs, there aren’t any strong reasons for delaying neutering beyond the usual recommended age.
Neutered dogs that have this operation too early (prior to 8 weeks of age) can suffer potentially harmful effects. Early sterilization can cause interrupted bone growth, and an increased chance of developing obesity or hypothyroidism later in life.
Neutering your dog later in life doesn’t present many health problems for dogs or their owners. But some old dogs that aren’t neutered can have a hard time breaking a lifetime of undesirable habits that could have been stopped if they were neutered earlier. While some aggression and reactivity can decrease after neutering more senior dogs, it can be more challenging to put an end to some unwanted territorial behaviors such as marking.
Most neutered male dogs that get the procedure late in life go on to live healthy and full lives. While there may be a slight increase of surgical complications in older dogs, the risk is not often high enough to avoid the procedure altogether. The most common risks that you will encounter include a slower recovery time, and the lingering of any undesirable behaviors.
For all the reasons mentioned above, it’s important to talk with your vet about what they recommend for you to do as a pet owner.
When is it too late to neuter a dog?
It’s never too late to neuter your dog, and there’s no “right age”. If you choose to get your dog neutered later in life, rest assured they will still be able to live healthy and full lives afterwards.
The most common (and minor) risks you face with neutering an adult dog include a slower recovery time, and possibly the lingering of any lifelong behavioral issues.
Health benefits usually outweigh the risks of neutering for dogs of any age, and it’s a relatively smooth procedure for older dogs, as long as you have the approval of your veterinarian.
Can you neuter a senior dog?
While you should weigh up the pros and cons of neutering your ageing dog, there’s no problem getting an old dog neutered if they’re generally fit and in good health.
Neutering is a quick, simple, and straightforward operation which will have them on their feet again in no time after the operation. Your vet can advise you on their professional opinion about whether your dog is strong and healthy enough to undergo this procedure.
Can a dog be too old to get neutered?
Age isn’t a barrier to neutering if your pet is in good overall health. Depending on your dog’s breed and medical history, your veterinarian might recommend a more thorough medical examination before any surgery takes place.
If your dog has any medical concerns such as obesity, heart problems, or allergic reactions, your vet will give them additional tests to make sure it’s safe to proceed. Your vet can then determine if it’s too late to neuter your older dog or not, and whether they feel comfortable performing surgery on your pet.
Just as it can be difficult for older people to bounce back after surgery, it can be more challenging for an older dog as well. If you have a senior dog, they might need a bit of extra care after surgery, including assistance moving around, and greater attention to pain medication. While the post-surgery can be a little difficult for senior dog’s, it’s still considered to be an easy recovery for most.
Does neutering a male dog calm them down?
Some territorial behavior that male dogs display can vanish after neutering. This includes things like frequent humping, marking lamp posts, acting aggressively, and barking.
In general, people tend to neuter their dogs to counter these unwanted behaviors as their dogs move into adulthood, where they can become problematic. With these unwanted and often antisocial behaviors gone, your dog will seem calmer.
Does neutering cause obesity in male dogs?
Many people choose not to neuter their dogs out of fear they will become overweight following the surgery. As your dog gets older, it’s common for them to gain weight – and this has nothing to do with neutering.
With proper food and exercise your dog will remain fit and maintain a healthy weight, regardless of whether they’re neutered or not.
What are the health risks for neutered dogs?
Vets prefer giving a thorough pre-surgery exam on your dog before undertaking the neutering procedure. This means there are very few risks for neutering your dog. If your vet doesn’t believe your dog is well enough for the procedure in any way, they won’t perform this surgery.
Whenever administering anesthesia to your dog, there’s a risk of an unpredictable anesthetic reaction. This type of complication is rare in most young and healthy dogs.
The main issue is typically skin irritation at the incision point. But for most pets, recovery and healing from surgery is rapid.
How much does it cost to neuter or spay a dog?
Many local humane societies offer free dog neutering. If you get neutering done at your vet, the prices will vary between states and countries, so check around local vets to see what the cost of this service might be.
Will my dog be mad at me for neutering him?
Many dogs get anxiety before surgery, so they won’t be too thrilled at you taking them to the vet when they feel fine! make sure you give your dog extra attention and treats before the vet visit, and after the surgery too.
Most dogs will feel a little sleepy and sad after surgery – which is to be expected! But otherwise, your dog will forget about this surgery quickly and won’t be sad or mad at you for the rest of his life.
In summary – when is it too late to neuter a dog?
It’s never too late to get intact dogs neutered, and this option should be available for every pet, no matter their age. The best age for each breed depends on their size, health, and lifestyle.
Make sure you consult with your vet to discuss your dog’s health, and any concerns you have as a dog owner about the neutering process before making your decision.
About the author
Rachael is the co-founder and head writer at Barkzine. Owner of one elderly pug, she’s dedicated to helping other dog owners create healthy, happy, lives with their furry best friends.