Thursday, November 14, 2013

Our Neutering Story: Why we waited & Dealing with a Cryptochird Surgery

Quick Facts
Age at time of Neuter: 1 year & 1 month old
Cost for Abdominal Cryptorchid Surgery: $450.00 (Arkansas) 
*[Let it be noted that our vet in CA gave us an estimate of $850 minimum for the same surgery]

Reasons to wait until 1 year old to spay/neuter
[Read this great article from Dr. Mercola here for more details]

Of course there are exceptions to this (such as for shelter animals), but if you are getting a dog from a good breeder then you have the opportunity to wait and I advocate for doing that if you can. Many people neuter at 6 months old and your vet may even tell you to do this. However, our breeder contract specified we had to wait until 9 months and we were encouraged to hold off as long as we could.  Further, after researching and talking with other high level dog trainers who have raised many dogs, they recommended the waiting as well. My partner and I are glad we followed this advice.  We have watched out dog change and mature over this last year by leaps and bounds and his structure is so perfect and strong, it's amazing.  Here's why we waited and you should consider doing so too:

1) Proper growth and development of bones
Altering your dog changes their hormones.  Hormones play such an important role in growth and development as well as the personality traits of your dog such as maturity and disposition.  Dogs that are altered early, 4-6 months, tend to grow up and add weight to their structures more rapidly.  This can lead to a whole host of issues later.

2) Allowing your dog to mature naturally
Letting your dog age and develop mental maturity naturally before changing or ceasing their hormones will lead to a more well balanced dog.  Our trainer in Santa Barbara who has raised many dogs is now a strong advocate for this distinction and if you think about it, it makes sense.  Can you imagine altering a small child or teenager? Yikes! They'd be trapped in that mental state forever. 

3) Decreased Cancer & Injury Risk
According to several studies (cited in the article I linked above), early alteration is linked to many of the common cancers and structural issues, like hip dysplasia, we see in dogs.


Abdonimally Cryptorchid
Indie was not a normal male neuter because he was abdominally cryptorchid.  Cryptorchid is the condition where only one testicle descends and drops. Often, the non-dropped testicle will descend most of the way down and be a visible lump just under the skin, but it will not "drop" outside the body. Adbonimally cryptorchid is where the other testicle does not descend at all and remains higher up in the abdomen, thus requiring a more complex surgery because they have to find the darn thing nestled in all the fatty tissues that surround the organs up there!

This is a genetic defect, not a random birth defect. Scientists believe it to be genetic because it is more common in pure bred dogs and, further, is more common in certain lines of dogs which why it is more commonly seen in pure bred dogs.  It was my responsibility to alert my breeder of this issue.  Luckily, it's not a sign that we have a bad breeder or bad dog.  This is not possible to test for and also it's very benign, so it is just something that can happen.

Typically, male neuters are less invasive than the female spay; they require smaller incisions and less internal trauma since you're removing a small, more external body part.  In this case, Indie's surgery was more on the level of what female dogs go where the incisions are larger and the surgery more complex.

* A note about male dogs: If you can, consider getting your male dog a vasectomy instead of a neuter. New research shows this is better for decreasing cancer risk, etc.  If it had not been for the cryptorchid testicle, we would have pursued this optin 

Neuter Diary
Day 1 
No dinner after 8:30pm and no breakfast the morning of the surgery. We dropped him off at the vet at 8:30 am.  He was out of surgery by 9:30 am, but they kept him all day for monitoring.  Most vets will have them stay overnight, but we asked to take him home so he came home around 6:30 pm. My partner and I are so attached to our little dog, we can't bear the thought of him being awake in a foreign place without us there to assure him! He was shaky and scared when we went to get him. He peed all over the floor in nervous excitement (I guess they didn't let him out?).  He was acting very submissive and I believe Indie thought we did this to punish to him.  It's heartbreaking watching them be confused and having an intelligent, sensitive dog like an Aussie makes it harder.  I felt I could see him analyzing in his brain trying to rationalize "Why? Why did this happen?"  He was quite sore and walking very hunched over with his head hung low in a submissive posture.  We felt AWFUL! When we got home he went straight for the water bowl. He was also famished, but they told us not to feed him too much.  I gave him 1/3 can of wet food and he gobbled it down. H e did not throw up.  He occasionally whimpered during the evening, but we petted him to reassure him and just cuddled with him. He was licking down there quite a bit and having a hard time getting comfortable.  

Sorry for the graphic pic,  but this is what Indie looks like after surgery.  He has three incisions.  One on his testicle, which is the dark blob looking thing below his penis; one small incision where they originally thought the other cryptorchid testicle was; and a third, long incision following the shaft of his penis where they had to go high up to get the other testicle.  As bad as this looks, he was only in pain for about a day or so.

Day 2
He is still quite sore.  His now empty testicle sack is droopy and bruised (doc said it will shrivel up and go away over time). He has still been appearing in submissive postures and has been walking around hunched over all day, very carefully.  He will not jump up on us as per his usual. He mostly wants to just lay down and also be near us because he's a little scared and confused still. You can see the confused, scared look I'm talking about in the top left pic below. Here you see he is laying on his bed which we moved out into the kitchen so could be near us while we make breakfast.  I wound up laying next to him so he wouldn't have to get up to be near me while my partner made the tea and whatnot (yes, we spoil and love our dog). This day is about resting, so I only took him for a few short walks throughout the day so he could eliminate and stretch his legs, then it was back inside to the dog bed!  I kept him on a leash to make sure he didn't run especially because my neighbor dog, Sammie (who you can see in the distance in the lower left pic), comes over EVERY DAY and she is desperate to play. She follows me on walks.  We did not play with toys much today, I just ignored him so would rest and took him outside a few times.

Going for a walk he started to perk up and get some confidence back. You can kind of see where they shaved his midsection in the bottom right picture.  He looks funny and tiny!

Day 3
Today he is still walking around slightly hunched but he is basically back to his old bouncy self. Licking our faces in the morning, ready to play.  I will take him for some longer walks today and will play toys with him a little bit.  I plan to take this time to work on some new tricks indoors to tire his mind out since his body needs to rest! He really wants to play outside and run full blast --except I won't let him! He is bringing me toys, milling around the house, staring out the sliding glass door, and bugging me constantly as I write this:

I played with him a little bit, but if I ignore him long enough he will fall back asleep, which is what he should be doing to get healed! Sometimes you have to force these tough cattle doggies to take breaks they often are too stubborn to know they need. Working on this blog post is a great way to ignore him! He he, check it out (you can't see that he's asleep on his orange ball, ha ha!):

Day Four: By day 4 Indie is back to his usual self! Other than stopping to lick down there on occasion, he is ready for action and you would never know he's been through surgery.  He's jumping all over us and bringing me balls to throw. I am still keeping him from running too hard or fast and chasing any balls.  I am taking him for leashed walks with a little off leash time to run on a train. 

By day 6 his empty testicle sack is starting to shrink, though still quite bruised.  The good news is that my vet said he could start tearing ass around the yard again so that's what we're doing.   Back to fetch and I'm even letting him play with our neighbor dog Sammie.  Here they are resting after chasing each other:


  1. Wow! You paid $450 for a neuter?! That is very expensive (also the price they quoted you in California is just crazy!) I know it's too late now but since you mentioned that you were interested in getting another Aussie, I highly suggest getting the Banfield pet care plan for the first year. It's $40/month for a year (so $480 total) and covers spay/neuter, all the puppy shots and you can bring them in any time for free if you have a problem. No, they are not the best vets in the world (all Banfields are located inside a PetSmart), BUT I did trust them enough to administer shots and do spay/neuter. If my pup would have any seriously problems I would take her to a highly recommended vet immediately. But considering vets charge you around $50 a visit, the plan is a great! I highly suggest it for the first year! Also they give you 10% off all medication including heart worm and flea medicine. Just something you may want to look into if there is one near by. :)

    1. Ooo, thanks for the tip! Well, we got a special discount due to our affiliation with the college so we only paid $250, I put the full price here to reflect the reality. Dang, there is no Petsmart here, only a Petsense (cheap knock off? I don't know!? lol). We had looked into insurance originally, but never did it. Probably should have! I will have to investigate this, especially if we get a second dog.

      Vets are notoriously expensive for neuter and spay surgeries, however that wound up being our only option. Back in CA we were going to have him neutered at the Humane Society because they do it for cheap there ($50-70). However, they refused to do Indie because of the complexity of his surgery. I wonder if we would have been turned down by the Banfield as well? If it wasn't for his dang cryptorchid testicle!!

      We're such nervous nancy's about our pets that we only take them to the best vets. In SB our vet was also a holistic medicine specialist and her demeanor, energy, and natural care tips were worth the money we felt. Gah, we're such hippies! Or yuppies? I don't know, ha ha ha! When we get a second dog, I'll probably look into insurance. The shots are so expensive so it's probably worth it for that alone. We totally spend more than $480 on Indie in the first year due to a few unplanned vet visits!

  2. Thank you for this post. My Mini Aussie is a female and she looks a lot like Indie. Beautiful boy you have there. I think based on everything I have read here and elsewhere we will let our little girl grow to be a year old at least. She is 9 months and has not had her first "heat" yet. Contract wants us to "fix" her before a year but I will contact the breeder and explain our delay...thanks again, good info!