Castration Questions for your vet…

Castration Questions for your Vet…

Having a boar castrated (neutered) must be a big commitment and understanding of what exactly is involved. Castrating a boar will not change his behaviour, just his ability to reproduce. All operations are life threatening and the positive and negative must be weighed up before the decision is made:

  • Are you prepared to give a home to 2 boars? There is a possibility that they could fall out and living arrangements (including new friends) will need to be considered. Although adult boars do fall out it is often preferable to adopt a well matched pair of adults that have been together for at least 6 months than it is to take on a baby boar and an adult. Whilst everything depends on the character of both the outcome of the ‘baby boar’s’ adolescence is unknown and unpredictable.
  • Having decided that castration is the only option it is important to source a knowledgable veterinary surgeon. Find a rescue that sees lots of guinea pigs or ask a local guinea pig breeder which one they use and what they have used the vet for. It is the name of the surgeon that is important, as opposed to the name of the practice. Still ask the vet your own questions.
  • Oxbow Critical Care should be available both at the surgery and for post op nursing at home- stock up before it’s needed. Ensure veterinary nurses are aware of how to syringe feed.
  • Post op guinea pigs need a veterinary bedding to lay on. Buy a purpose made product for optimum performance.
  • Prepare  before op and after op boxes/tubs of food, the after op tub should contain tempting, favourite foods. Give instructions detailing when and why these foods are to be given, mark the tubs for ease of use for the nurses!

Questions to ask:

  1. How many guinea pig castrates have you done successfully? What success rate do you expect?

The more recent and successful castrates the better of course, but gaining an insight into the expectations of doing a castration is useful too. Castrates are one of the easiest and less intrusive operations to perform, it is not unreasonable to expect a vet to expect a near 100% success rate whilst allowing for the minority of guineapigs with an undetectable (on pre op examination) and underlying problem; usually respiratory.

2. What anaesthetic do you use?

All anaesthetics should be gas ones, the safest ones are: Isoflurane and Servoflurane. Gas is preferable because the body can be flooded with Oxygen when the gas is turned off and the guinea pig will recover quicker. Recovery should be within the half hour after the operation and nurses should know that syringe feeding is very necessary to keep the intestines moving if the guinea pig doesn’t start to eat. Guinea pigs should be fed within the hour after the operation.

3. Do you give a Pre Op painkiller?

Rimadyl should be given pre op so that the boar is not in pain when he ‘comes round’ form the anaesthetic. Rimadyl will also reduce any swelling. Rimadyl may be given post op.

4. What do you use to stitch up the wound?

Vicryl is the best choice for stitching up guinea pigs, and preferably internal stiching with Skin Glue holding together the outside wound so that the stitches can’t be pulled out. Catgut should NEVER be used, some guinea pigs are allergic to it and this causes reactions and problems at a time when the guinea pig is probably vulnerable as well.

5. What method of castration do you ‘use’?

There are many variations on castrating boars (i.e. where incisions are made etc) but the preferred method is the closed method.

6. How long before my boar can live with a sow?

There are many variations on this answer. One month after the operation it is medically impossible for a boar to impregnate a sow. The recommended time is two weeks, any sooner and wounds (including internal) may not have sufficiently healed as well as the risk of pregnancy of course. Reading Guinea Pig Rescue have, at the time of writing,had over 60 boars castrated, all were put in with sows 2 weeks after castration and there have been no injuries to the boars or pregnancies.

No operation can be guaranteed as straight forward but providing your boar is suitably matched to his sowfriend by a reputable source happiness can be guaranteed. Given that companionship is a basic need for a guinea pig surely it should be taken as seriously as diet and other ‘basic needs’?

Further reading: Cakey’s Catgut Catastrophe.