I have been advised to get my dog neutered by the vets. He is 7 months old. I had him booked in at 6 months but cancelled as a lot of people were telling me he was too young and that it would affect his coat. – @Fourpaws
Thank you for contributing this topic to the forum FourPaws. I thought it would make an interesting topic for me to answer for everyone to read.
So, neutering is a time which is met with apprehension for a lot of owners. It is usually the first time their dog is away from them for a procedure, and the thought of an operation can be nerve-wracking. However, this is something that vets do on a day-in day-out basis, and so don’t worry, they are extremely experienced at it.
Generally, I advise that if you are not wanting to breed your dog, then it is best to get him or her neutered. There are more health benefits than consequences to the procedure, but you must still weigh up the pros and cons for yourself.
When a male dog is castrated, it will eliminate the risk of misalliance (unwanted mating) and testicular cancers. It will also almost eliminate the risk of prostate cancer and benign prostatic enlargement, which can lead to many further complications. If done before 18 months old, it can also calm your dog’s temperament, as well as stop unwanted hormone driven behaviours, such as marking and aggression.
When a female dog is spayed, it will again eliminate the risk of misalliance, unwanted pregnancies and attention from male dogs. It will mean that your dog will not have any seasons, which means much less mess! It also eliminates the risk ovarian cancers and of a pyometra; a potentially fatal uterine infection, and if done before the second season, almost eliminate the chance of mammary cancers.
So, what are the down-sides? As you mentioned, it can cause a change in the coat of your dog. For some dogs, it may become more coarse or wavy, but for others you might notice no difference. For most dogs, neutering slows their metabolism, and so they will be more prone to putting on weight. This can easily be avoided by adjusting the amount you are feeding your dog. Finally, the only major downside of spaying a female dog is increasing the risk of urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence (USMI). The urethral sphincter is a band of muscle which closes the bladder. It increases in tone, the more oestrogen there is in the body, and therefore spayed female dogs are at a higher risk of leaking urine later in life.
All in all, I personally think the pros strongly outweigh the cons, so I encourage owners to neuter their pets if they have no intention of breeding with them. For males, this can be done from any age that they have two descended testicles, although, I prefer them to be over 6 months, as they handle the anaesthetic a little better compared to when they are younger than this. As for females, the prime time to neuter is either at 6 months, before the first season, or three months after the first season. This can fall anytime between 6 and 18 months. So, in answer to your question, 7 months is actually an excellent age to neuter your dog.
I hope this has helped in you deciding whether to go ahead or not!