I have two four-year-old West Highland Terriers and have never considered having them castrated before, but lately I have been reading more cases of cancer in non-castrated males.
I would like to have them both castrated, but my partner doesn't like the idea.
I don't breed from my dogs.
Can you help?
Jackie Twigge, by email
Richard Allport, vet, advises...
In fact there is strong evidence that some forms of cancer are significantly more common in neutered dogs than in entire males. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and splenic cancer, for instance, are more frequently seen in neutered dogs. The only cancers an unneutered dog are more likely to get are (self evidently) testicular cancer and also prostate cancer.
However, prostate cancer is very rare in dogs (much less common than bone cancer) and testicular cancer is usually benign. In addition, neutered dogs are more likely to become overweight and suffer from conditions such as diabetes: and neutered dogs are more likely to be affected by hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroids).
Then there is the small but real risk of the anaesthetic and the surgery itself. So my advice is that if your Westies are fit and well, there is probably a greater risk in having them neutered than in leaving them entire and intact as the good lord designed them!