Neutering Know-How

Neutering (the surgical removal of both testicles to sterilize a male animal) is one of the most common procedures veterinarians perform. However, there are many myths surrounding whether neutering is necessary and potential complications.

For one, many pet owners believe it will cause changes in their animal’s behavior or energy level; however, this is not true.

“There isn’t much evidence that neutering will change behavior or drive and energy level, other than changing sexually driven behaviors, like going after female dogs,” Maria Verbrugge, a clinical instructor of primary care at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, said on a recent episode of Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Larry Meiller Show.

Overall, few scientific studies show negative effects of neutering. Some correlation studies have looked at specific factors in populations of neutered dogs after the fact. However, “these aren’t always demonstrating causation, even if they demonstrate correlation,” Verbrugge says. “We often don’t have a good level of evidence to say because this dog was neutered, this happened.”

What is known are the benefits of neutering for long-term health. “Neutering dramatically decreases the chances of benign growth of the prostate, cysts, and infections,” Verbrugge says.

Ultimately, if you are worried about any adverse effects of neutering, talk to your veterinarian.

Britta Wellenstein

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