A large proportion of dog owners will neuter their pet without giving it a second thought. At the same time, you have another selection of dog owners who absolutely refuse to do it. They argue that it’s inhumane and unnatural, citing no reason to tamper with their beloved pet at all.
In reality, there are some compelling arguments from both camps – some of which might shock you. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make your decision any easier. Should you neuter your dog or leave them alone? The only way to come to a conclusion is by weighing up the pros and cons:
Pro: Lower the risk of overpopulation
When you think about overpopulation, you usually think about humans. However, there is a growing problem with the rising number of dogs in this country. It is reported that over 3 million dogs every single year are moved to animal shelters in the US. This is terrible as it means these poor dogs are having a poor quality of life. Yes, they’re being fed and looked after, but they are often in confined spaces and they don’t get the love and affection that a dog deserves.
Sadly, the reason behind this is that there are simply too many puppies being born. Un-neutered dogs will often go roaming looking for mates. This could mean your dog gets your neighbor’s dog pregnant – or even goes roaming for miles and finds multiple mates. These dogs then have puppies that the owners can’t look after, leading to many being either abandoned or sent to shelters.
Neutering can control this as you prevent your dog from mating. There are plenty of organizations trying to help promote the idea of controlling the dog overpopulation problem. It can be useful to support them, with many offering specialty license plates as an incentive for a donation. It could be worth your time if you think this is a good cause to support.
Pro: Control unwanted behaviors
Another big advantage of neutering dogs is that it controls their behavior. Because you’re removing the male sex organ, it changes the hormone levels in the dog. Without getting too technical, this basically changes the way your dog is likely to behave.
When a dog isn’t neutered, it tends to be very protective of its territory. It will spray its scent on things to mark them, stopping other male dogs from approaching. Unfortunately, this often means that areas of your home get covered in dog pee! When your dog is neutered, the desire to do this goes away.
Moreover, aggressive behavior can be curbed by neutering a dog. There is scientific evidence that shows dogs are more mellowed out and calm when they have been neutered. Again, this is because the hormone levels are changing, so they don’t have loads of testosterone to make them feel all rowdy and boisterous.
Con: Weight gain
It is very common for a neutered dog to gain a lot of weight. Some people think this is down to your dog no longer roaming or mating. Also, if they are calmer, they’re less likely to run around like a maniac and burn lots of fat.
Well, anyone that’s ever seen a neutered dog at a dog park can tell you that the above isn’t really true. Your dog will still be very active, but it can be prone to weight gain. Why? Because the metabolism slows down after they are neutered. This pretty much means their body doesn’t burn as much fat as it used to. So, if you feed your dog as you would feed any other dog of its size, it is likely to put on a lot of weight.
Yes, you can control this by putting them on a reduced diet, but it is still something to be wary of. Overweight dogs are at risk of developing all sorts of extra health problems. Speaking of which…
Con: Increased risk of health problems
There is some chatter out there that neutering a dog can increase the risk of certain health conditions. Most notably, some dog breeds are more likely to develop a rare form of cancer if they are neutered. However, other dog breeds are not as badly affected – and some people argue that neutering actually reduces cancer risks by removing sex organs.
Furthermore, there is some correlation between some dog breeds – like golden retrievers – and joint disorders or injuries.
You can also say that you put your dog in a bad position by forcing them to undergo this procedure. Neutering is obviously very painful, so your dog will need anesthesia to knock them out. While it helps to reduce the pain, it can be bad for a lot of dogs. Some dog breeds are really at risk of developing health problems after being under anesthesia. This includes low blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and more. Not neutering your dog means you don’t have to run this risk at all.
So, should you neuter your dog?
Honestly, it’s a big decision that is very difficult to make. It’s also a strange decision as you are making it on behalf of your pet. On the one hand, you don’t want to increase their chances of developing health problems or gaining weight. On the other hand, you can manage the weight gain, and some dog breeds aren’t adversely affected by neutering.
You also have to take the pros into consideration. It is extremely beneficial for you, your dog, and the neighborhood if neutering calms them down. This can prevent fights with other dogs or cases where your dog might scare a child or get too overly aggressive. Likewise, it is better for the whole of dogkind if the overpopulation problem is dealt with. Too many puppies are left abandoned by the side of the road or left at animal shelters. Neutering can ensure that your dog isn’t guilty of impregnating many mates and causing lots of puppies to be born and live horrible lives.
But, at the end of the day, this is your decision to make. You can mull over the pros and cons all you like, but you have to come to a conclusion eventually.