I just finished Chief’s neuter. Chief belongs to a new client and is an older, cute boxer. I saw him on Tuesday for annual vaccinations and after his physical exam, I recommended that they neuter him.

“We were wondering about that.”

I replied, “It’s time.” Chief had one testicle that was larger than the other. Even more worrisome, the smaller testicle was smaller than a dog of Chief’s size and age should have. The larger testicle is almost always a tumor. The testicular tumor secretes estrogen. The estrogen causes the opposite testicle to shrink in size.

Chief was lucky. Surgery will take care of his problem. Bailey, Rex, Rover, Simon were not as lucky. That same excess of estrogen also affects the prostate. The prostate grows under the effect and can become large enough to cause problems (benign hyperplasia). Other animals may have a prostatic abscess or prostatic cancer.

Bailey had a prostatic abscess. He was found and adopted by a good Samaritan. When we did blood work on Bailey, his white blood cell count was extremely high. Prostatitis is one of the few things that can cause a white blood cell count that high. Only Bailey was not stable enough for surgery. We started him on IV fluids and antibiotics, but then also had to inject antibiotics straight into the prostate. This was done by ultrasound guided biopsy. The fluids, antibiotics and injection helped to get him strong enough to go to surgery to be neutered. Stopping the estrogen from the tumor stops the feedback on the prostate. Within a few hours of surgery, he was feeling much better.

Banjo was not as lucky with his prostatic abscess. His abscess formed pockets and was harder to treat. It also traveled up the urinary tract to cause a urinary bladder infection. The infection caused extra mucous. This led to mucous plugs that helped the small stones to form a urethral blockage. He took a few weeks to get everything under control and then surgery when he was stable enough. (A few weeks in a veterinary hospital on intensive care is something most people would prefer to avoid.) Banjo was lucky to live though his problems.

Most prostate cancers react to the estrogen from the testicular tumor. That means that if you remove the diseased testicles, the prostate cancer is not as bad. Usually you can ignore it even. Simon was not that lucky. His white cell count was very high, but he was not a good candidate for surgery until he was stabilized on fluids and antibiotics for a few days. Surgery and anesthesia went very well, but Simon never really got better. A week after surgery he died.

Neutering avoids these problems and helps with behavior problems. Neutered males tend to roam less, behave better and focus their attention on their owners. Neutered males don’t typically mark there territory by hiking on the furniture. Neutering does not make your pet fat. Overfeeding and under exercising makes your pet fat.

Intact males will do just about anything to get to a female in heat. I saw a rottie that stuck a piece of chain link fence into their eye while trying to get out to have sex. (Yes, I did save the eye, but it will never be normal.) Dogs also can get STD’s or sexually transmitted diseases. In Africa almost every dog that was a year or more old had a TVT or transmissible venereal tumor. Some of these TVT’s would cost dogs their lives without our help.

Back to Chief, the owners asked what was involved in the surgery. I first explained the anesthesia, because that is the real risk. Anesthesia at our hospital includes presurgical bloodwork and sometimes other tests. ECG monitoring, blood pressure, temperature, heated recovery cages are things we take for granted, but are not always standard at other places.

With his IV catheter placed, IV fluids running and monitoring, Chief was sleeping peacefully. After a surgical prep, he was draped with sterile drapes for surgery. This is considered a minimally invasive surgery, so only gloves, cap and mask are worn by me. Caps and masks are required for my staff in surgery, also.

A prescrotal incision is made and the first testicle is forced up under it. There are two tunics of connective tissue over the testicle and one is cut through to force the testicle out. The pedicel is clamped with hemostats and then ligated twice. Larger dogs at our hospital get a encircling ligature and a transfixing ligature. The testicle is then removed, bleeding checked (and fixed if needed) and the skin is closed. Pain meds are on board and recovery is usually uneventful.

Chief was relatively healthy and we took the anesthetic opportunity to clean his teeth while he was out. There is an increased risk of infection, but it is usually less than the risk of a second anesthetic procedure. (This is not the same for a major abdominal surgery such as a spay.) In Chief’s case, he had a loose tooth that must have been painful. He will feel better when he wakes up.

Chief’s parents have made a good decision. They have prevented problems before it got too bad and Chief should live longer.