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Dogs: Optional Operations


In pregnancy prevention both the male and female dog must be considered, especially if they live with one another.

In pregnancy prevention both the male and female dog must be considered, especially if they live with one another.

The male dog can be altered by either a vasectomy (tying off the spermatic cord) or by castration (removing the testicles).

The female dog can be altered by complete ovari (removing both the ovaries and uterus), hysterectomy (removing the uterus but leaving the ovaries), which allows the dog to continue to cycle and still attract male dogs, or tubal ligation (tying off the junction between the ovaries and uterus), which prevents passage of the egg into the uterus, but still allows the bitch to cycle normally and attract male dogs. This may also predispose her to pyometras, however. The complete ovariohysterectomy is still preferred.

Alternate methods include the use of the “pill,”-- progesterone-like medication which is started at the first sign of heat. These products effectively bring the dog out of heat, but may increase the possibility of uterine infections.

An intravaginal device, like a diaphragm, recently on the market, which may be inserted by your veterinarian during the heat period, has shown some promise as an effective means of birth control.


With the exception of certain show breeds, in which they are a factor in judging, dewclaws are strictly a liability and a source of injuries to the dog. Dewclaws get caught on furniture and fabrics, and the dewclaws are ripped. In certain states they are, in fact, required to be removed. In a puppy, the operation is harmless and painless and should definitely be considered desirable.


While they have no practical value for the owner not interested in showing a dog, tail docking and ear cropping can give the pet a better appearance, a smartness it might otherwise lack. No suffering is caused if these operations are performed while the puppy is still young. Since the purpose is cosmetic rather than medical, a groomer might be better than a veterinarian to per form these operations.


De-barking can be accomplished either temporarily or permanently. The former process is used primarily by people who are boarding animals, and recovery is swift and complete. Permanent de-barking, while not inhumane, should be considered in the light of the circumstances. There is simply no reason the average owner would find it desirable. But, for the apartment dweller with a nervous pet, it could become a necessity brought on by the threat of eviction with the only option being to have the dog destroyed.

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