Castration is the most common surgery performed on horses and although it';s common, it is not without potential complications. Because it is so commonly performed, many people have the mistaken impression that it is no big deal. The surgery itself it not a big deal as long as both testicles are descended but if one or both testicles have not descended into the abdomen, the castration is much more difficult and in most cases should not be performed in the field but in a hospital under sterile conditions. Also, many horses are still castrated by non-veterinarians without the use of anesthesia and this is ridiculous in today's world. Veterinarian's fees for equine castrations are very low and if you can afford to raise and own a horse, you can certainly afford for them to be castrated humanely under anesthesia by a veterinarian.
Castration complications include swelling, infection, excessive bleeding, and herniation of the intestine through the incision. The most common complication is swelling that prevents adequate drainage of the surgical incision, which is followed by infection. Treatment usually involves increased exercise and sometimes the veterinarian must reopen the incision to allow drainage. The most serious complication is intestinal herniation through the incision because unless the veterinarian is there to immediately replace the intestine, most of these horses will not survive. These hernias can occur several hours after the procedure, so all castrated horses should be monitored closely immediately after the surgery. Castration is a serious surgery and should be performed only by a veterinarian under heavy sedation or anesthesia. Proper exercise and post operative care is critical to avoid complications.
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