Effects of neutering on behavior

posted: by: Hilltop Animal Hospital Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Neutering is the surgical procedure that renders a male cat or dog unable to reproduce. In males that surgery is called castration which entails removal of the testicles, leaving an empty scrotal sac that soon shrink. The testicle produces sperm and the primary production site of the hormone, testosterone. This surgery is done under general anesthesia. Pets are neutered so as to prevent undesired births and a variety of medical disorders in males. Speak with your veterinarian for recommendations regarding your pet. 

Effects on sexual behavior 

Sexual behavior usually disappears after neutering. In animals that have experienced sexual activity before neutering may still exist. This is not necessarily an indication of incomplete surgical removal of sexual organs. 

Behaviors that appear to be sexually motivated may be linked to other causes. Mounting by castrated dogs for example is usually a sign of dominance behavior. Masturbation, particularly in male cats and dogs, may occur following castration. This is the most common in males that have experienced sexual arousal before castration. For most pets, however, neutering effectively eliminates development and progression of objectionable sexual behavior. 

Effect on Aggression:

Intact males are more likely to display aggression related to sexual behavior than are neutered animals. Fighting, particularly in males and directed towards other males, is less common after neutering. The intensity of other types of aggression, such as dominance aggression, is also likely to be reduced. If you are worried your dog will not protect your house, territorial aggression is not altered by neutering. 

If your pet is not intended for breeding, neutering is advised to prevent aggression related to sex hormones. Though neutering is advised to prevent aggression, it can help prevent the severity and escalation of aggressiveness and is often the first step toward resolving an aggressive behavior problem. Specific diagnosis of the type of aggression displayed by your pet, identification of the situations that trigger it and retaining your pet to behave differently are still essential. 

Effect on general temperment: 

Many pet owners are concerned that a neutered pet will lose its vitality. Basic temperment and intelligence are not altered by neutering. In fact, many undesireable qualities under hormonal influence may resolve after surgery. Your pet will not become less affectionate or playful, nor will it resent you. You will not deprive your pet any essential experiences. You will, however, be acting as a responsible, informed and loving pet owner. There is no benefit from sexual activity for male dogs or cats. Do not project your own physical or emotional needs onto your pet. It is not "unnatural" to control a pet's reproductive activity by having it neutered. 

Effect on escape and roaming: 

A neutered oet is less likely to roam. Castrated males tend to patrol smaller outdoor areas and are less likely to engage in territorial conflicts with rivals. A pet that has already had successful escapes will not stop running away after its neutered. 

Effect on inappropriate elimination: 

Dogs and cats may urinate or defecate in undesirable areas of your home to stake territorial claims, relieve anxiety and advertise reproductive status. This may continue long after the initial cause has passed. Because this behavior is only partly under hormonal control, male pets may begin to eliminate inappropriately even after neutering. Neutering an animal that has begun to inappropriately eliminate reduces the urine odor of intact adults and eliminate the contribution of hormonal factors. Unless underlying emotional or physical factors are controlled and environmental reminders are removed, the undesirable behavior may persist beyond neutering. 

Effect on Body weight: 

Because of metabolic changes that follow neutering, some pets may gain weight. Many pets gain weight after neutering, because they are fed more by owners who feel guilty for subjecting their pet to any discomfort. PEts, like people, become less active when they mature and may gain weight. Activity declines as a young pet matures, regardless of whether or not it is neutered. Before the surgery, and particularly for sexually mature individuals, energy is channeled towards reproduction. Males may be more reactive to stimuli in general and more acutely aware of rivals or intruders on their territory. Neutering reduces the intensity of many behavior problems and eliminates or prevents certain types of undesirable behavior. 

After you pet is neutered, adjust its food intake to prevent excessive weight gain. Weight gain following neutering is easily controlled. If intake is controlled, weight can stay constant. Adjust your pets food intake according to its physical requirements and appearance. Weight loss requires careful monitoring by your veterinarian, particularly in obese pets. Special weight reducing diets are available, but rapid weight loss is almost never advisable. Weight gain is sometime associated with a certain metabolic disorder. If you believe  your pets weight gain is out of proportion to its food intake and exercise level, consult your veterinarian.