The Labrador is a beautiful and large dog breed. They are known for being calm, intelligent, and for being friendly. They are outgoing, energetic, and can quickly adapt to hot and cold weather, making this breed very attractive.
The Labrador is intelligent and can be trained easily, making it a perfect family dog. Since they are good with both humans and other pets, this breed is one of the go-to dogs for a pet.
Its growing popularity as a family dog leaves many asking when to neuter Labradors. In today’s article, we’ll answer this question and more. Keep reading until the end to learn more.
Why neuter your Labrador?
If you’ve heard a friend or your veterinarian suggests neutering, here are a few different reasons why it may be worth looking into.
Firstly, neutering is the way to go if you have another female dog in the house who is also not spayed and you don’t wish to have the dog pregnant.
This also goes with accidental pregnancies that may occur if your dog is unneutered.
Since neutering the dog will prevent it from reproducing, this is an excellent and responsible precaution a pet owner can take.
Neutering can be done in an effort to solve certain aggression issues a dog can have. Lastly, it can be done to prevent certain future diseases.
Neutering and its benefits
Neutering is a term that describes a medical procedure performed by a veterinarian to remove the testicles of a dog in order to make sure that it cannot reproduce.
This surgical procedure can also be performed in female dogs and is termed “spaying.”
There have been many proven advantages to neutering a dog, like significantly affecting a dog’s health in the long term.
The most obvious benefit is that it prevents testicle-related illnesses, such as an enlarged prostate, prostate infection, benign tumors, and testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer, in fact, is the second most common type of cancer in dogs that have not been neutered.
It also removes the sexual urges of the dog, which decreases erratic behavior around female dogs in heat.
Neutering also helps in reducing aggression and behavioral issues that a dog may have as their hormones are significantly reduced.
Some studies have also shown that neutered dogs have lived longer lives than their unneutered counterparts, though this is a controversial stance.
It can also prevent them from urine marking and make them more suitable for training.
Lastly, it helps reduce separation anxiety from owners and other pets that can develop, especially in regular house dogs.
Neutering has been traditionally done through a surgical procedure by making a small incision; however, chemical castration has also gained some popularity and is now an option for neutering.
Risks & Disadvantages of Neutering
Despite the numerous advantages that neutering provides, there are also some risks and disadvantages that are associated with it. These risks should be carefully weighed by the pet owner to see if neutering is something they want to proceed with.
The act of neutering will decrease a dog’s metabolism. Therefore, obesity is a risk in neutered dogs that are overfed and lack exercise.
Neutering a dog before it is fully matured can lead to an increase in some behaviors like noise phobia.
Neutering large dog breeds before their bones have fully grown can also risk them for injuries, such as ligament tears.
When should dogs be generally neutered?
There are many factors that can play into when your pet should be neutered. Ideally, it is best to talk it over with your veterinarian if you’re planning to do so.
Factors like the dog’s age, environment, health, and behavior affect the optimal time to neuter the dog. Most pet owners just consider their pet’s age, but rushing neutering at a young age can do more harm than good.
Some veterinarians suggest and recommend neutering puppies at 5 or 6 months, with others claiming that it can be done after 8 weeks.
However, most veterinarians suggest waiting up to a year to make sure that the dog’s bones have fully grown and matured to avoid bone problems in the future.
Others suggest neutering your pet when it starts to display behavioral issues like being aggressive or being dominant.
Neutering a Labrador
Different breeds and sizes of dogs often mature at different ages. Labradors are a more giant dog breed that takes more time to develop, which means that neutering this breed should be put off until they have fully grown.
Since sex hormones are particularly important in a dog’s development, cutting them off by neutering a dog is harmful and can present multiple health risks in the future.
Bone development is also an essential factor as larger breeds like the Labrador take more time to fully grow and develop their bones. Neutering them before this would also increase their risk of bone and joint disease as they grow old.
Various studies have been done across numerous breeds to determine the incidence of developing diseases in neutered and unneutered Labradors.
These studies concluded that there was an increase in joint diseases specifically for Labradors who have been neutered or “fixed” before they have turned 6 months old.
Thus, most veterinarians would recommend that male Labradors get neutered after 6 months to avoid future joint diseases.
Experts still suggest that if you can delay neutering until your dog is 1 year old, then that would be optimal since it ensures that your dog has fully grown.
More and more studies are coming out about pediatric neutering, which is neutering a dog before it has reached sexual maturity. They show that the risk of developing some diseases like joint issues is increased in dogs that undergo this.
If not for behavioral issues, pet owners should wait until their male Labradors fully mature before neutering them.
Supporting and taking care of your dog after the procedure is an essential part of the healing process.
Most veterinarians would recommend rest and restricted activity for about 5 to 10 days. While you can take your dog on a light walk, they should be mostly resting the whole day.
Playing roughly, running around, and climbing over things should be avoided so as not to overstrain the dog.
Taking baths or swimming is not allowed during the recovery period in order to ensure that the incision site is dry and will not get infected.
Most veterinarians will also place an E-collar, also known as a cone, around your dog’s neck to prevent them from licking the incision site, which can prevent or slow down the healing process.
Watching out for excessive pain or discharge is vital to monitor the dog’s recovery. Should your dog exhibit any unusual symptoms, bring them back to the veterinarian’s office to get checked out.
The scrotum area of your dog will appear swollen afterward, and while it is healing, it should slowly go down after a few days.
Monitor your dog’s condition closely, noting that they will have low energy for the first few days. Please encourage them to get enough food and water. Recovery should be complete after 2 weeks.
Neutering a dog is a big decision that most pet owners will question themselves about in their lives. Although it’s not ideal for putting our beloved pets in pain, it can be a responsible thing to do to avoid accidents and unwanted litter.
At the end of the day, these advantages and risks can always be enhanced or mitigated by proper training and care. Doing your research and talking to your veterinarian about your options is the best you can do for your pet, too.