Just as we can prevent serious disease in our female dogs by spaying. we can prevent serious disease in our male dogs by neutering. Male dogs are very prone to develop tumors around the anus, certain hernias. and prostate enlargement. Intact males are also at risk for prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
Perianal adenomas are small growths in the muscle around the anus. If not removed when small, they grow until they break through the skin, get infected, smell bad and cause a great deal of discomfort to the dog. While perianal adenomas initially are benign, some progress into highly malignant cancers.
Perianal adenomas can be treated by surgical excision or cryosurgery (frozen with liquid nitrogen). If the dog is neutered at the time of surgery, the tumors almost never return. If not neutered, the tumors almost always return. It is extremely rare for a female or a neutered male to have a Perianal adenoma.
A perineal hernia is caused by the muscle on either side of the anus weakening. Then fat protrudes through the muscle under the skin producing a bulge to the side of the anus. If the urinary bladder or a loop of intestine protrudes through the hernia, a serious emergency develops. Perineal hernias are difficult to surgically repair. Even when repaired properly there is a low to moderate chance of recurrence in the dog that is neutered at the time of hernia repair. There is a high probability the hernia will recur in the intact dog. Neutered dogs almost never have perineal hernias.
Prostate enlargement is as common in older male dogs as it is in older men. The enlarged prostate can cause difficult urination or constipation. The enlarged prostate often causes vague signs - you know there is something wrong with your dog but you and your veterinarian cannot figure out what it is. Enlarged prostates often become infected or cancerous. Prostate infection is difficult to treat. Prostate cancer has often extended to other organs by the time it is diagnosed. It has a very bad prognosis. Castration is the best treatment for an enlarged prostate. If the prostate has not already become cancerous, it will shrink in size after neutering.
Tumors in the testes are not as common as the above problems and not as dangerous as a tumor in the prostate. Signs of testicular cancer are not always easily associated with the tumor. Certain testicular cancers can cause skin disease. The skin is often unsuccessfully treated for years before the testicular tumor is diagnosed. When the dog is finally castrated. the skin problem resolves and the dog is comfortable for the first time in years. Some testicular tumors have a feminizing effect on the dog, causing enlarged mammary glands and nipples and a pendulous abdomen. Castration is both the prevention and cure for testicular cancer.
There is another big advantage to neutering. Neutered males live calmer less frustrated lives. Intact males are frustrated every time they smell a female dog in season. Even males in single dog households can detect the odor a female in season any where in the neighborhood. Dogs exhibit this frustration in any number of ways - a poor appetite for a few days, spells of breaking house training, riding other dogs in the family or riding people’s legs. This frustration can be prevented by neutering.
Of course some dogs find a way to get out of their yard when they smell a female in season. They go looking for a mate. They come home with dog bites, broken legs and gun shot wounds. Or they do not come home at all. For these dogs, neutering can prevent broken legs, gun shot wounds and worse.
Males should be neutered at about seven months of age in order to give their genitalia time to mature before neutering.
Inform anyone who has a male dog of the risks of not neutering. Tell them about the advantages of having a pet that is not sexually frustrated. Encourage the owner of a male pup to neuter him just as soon as he is old enough.