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Neuticles literature claims the product allows a pet "to retain his natural look, self-esteem and aids in the trauma associated with neutering."
"Anytime you do any surgery it's a traumatic experience to some extent," says Kenneth Williams, a vet at Heights Veterinary Services in Houston. "As far as psychological problems, we've not experienced that. I do have a Boston terrier, male, who was neutered at the appropriate age. It didn't bother him one way or another."
Williams said for every 200 dogs neutered there is one inquiry or request for implants. Neutering costs between $150 and $250. Slipping in a set of Neuticles may add $20 to the bill, not including the price of the implants -- provided there are no complications, as can arise when an owner wants to swap up a size, Williams says.
Neuticles owner Miller says many times owners are tempted to give their dog the illusion of a more robust character than nature intended. But he warned that overpadding the sacks will cause inflammation and might lead to more serious complications -- one beagle's scrotum was dragging on the floor after its owner replaced the dog's small testicles with large Neuticles.
So far no problems have been associated with downsizing.
"Neuticles are more for the client than the patient," Williams says. "A lot of times it's the clients themselves who trade places with the animal, and they don't want to be neutered."
At Houston's busy Riverside Animal Hospital, a low-cost clinic, veterinarian Karen Kemper says she has been on the company's master list of clinics that offer the procedure since ordering a set as a gag gift for a friend, but she turns away clients asking for Neuticles. "Let me put it to you this way: It depends on what kind of practice you're in," she says. "It's not complicated, but it's a delicate surgery; you do a lot more than you regularly do in neutering with the preservation of sheaths and structures. We don't have a lot of owners who have discretionary income to spend to have the procedure done."
Traditional neutering at the clinic costs $75, compared with $300 to $400 to implant Neuticles.
Kemper says the whole business over implants boils down to vanity. "Owners don't want the dog to look neutered -- that's about the person. Neuticles do nothing as far as hormone balance or anything like that. Dogs operate on scent. Think about it. A dog can't tell if a longhaired dog has testicles, but it can still identify it as male or female. It's strictly a visual thing for two-legged people."
Miller, however, says that responses such as Kemper's infuriate him. "Fifty percent of vets nationally won't do it and most will charge a criminal amount of money, but it's a two-minute procedure. It's as simple as changing a light bulb.
"We're after ultraloving pet owners who want their dog to have the very best, who don't want them to suffer, who want a dog that looks like a male dog."