Continuing from where I left off, here is Part 2- where I will discuss the recommendations regards sterilization, debunk myths and address some concerns some of my client have brought up.
For those who missed out on Part 1, click on the link to read on the advantages and disadvantages of sterilization.
When can I neuter my animal?
Most clinics recommend this at the age of 6 months. Animals must be of an appropriate size and weight prior to the anaesthetic.
Ideally we recommend de-sexing female animals prior to their first heat (~6 months of age) due to the benefits regarding the reduction of mammary cancers associated with early de-sexing.
Other advantages of de-sexing at 6 months of age includes reduction of hormonal -fueled behaviours such as territorial marking, aggressiveness, anxiety, etc.. before these behavior becomes habitual.
Whilst we are on the topic of age of de-sexing, I’m gonna address the concern regarding early de-sexing, hip dysplasia (particularly in large breed dogs) and cruciate disease.
PLEASE NOTE THAT EARLY de-sexing here refers to de-sexing earlier than the routine 6 months of age. Early de-sexing may result in a slight delay in closure of growth plates and as such animals MAY be slightly larger in size than their counterparts that are desexed at 6 months. However research have showed that the size difference is noted to be minimal and that there has been little or no difference in animals experiencing cruciate disease if they are neutered at 6 months or as an adult.
My recommendation: Sterilisation at 6-12 months for a large breed dog (IF behavior is not an issue)
Increased risk of urinary incontinence in spayed female dogs
There have been many conflicting research and the verdict on this is not yet out. However my take on this is that large breed spayed dogs often experience a higher risk of incontinence than smaller breed spayed dogs. The truth is that removal of oestrogen (through sterilization) may result in a poorer bladder control. However research appears to support that adolescent sterilization does not CAUSE a female dog to have an increased risk of incontinence. (in other words, if she’s going to be incontinent, she will be- regardless of age that she’s being sterilized).
Again, refer back to Part 1 on advantages of sterilization if you find yourself asking why you should sterilize your female animal.
Obesity in neutered animal
An animal may tend to put on more weight in the transition phase of decreased in hormones and decreased in activity post op. However research has shown that this has no bearing on her/his long term weight gain. Ultimately an appropriate diet (quality and quantity given ) and sufficient exercise still plays the most important roles in determining your animal’s weight.
Now addressing the concerns/ debunking the myths some clients have expressed
Depriving your animal’s sex life
Animals do not experience sexuality as humans do. For animals, sex is the physical process of reproduction. Female are only receptive to males when they are in season as is a hormonal necessity. Females that are not on heat are often aggressive towards male dogs that approach to mount them.
Going against nature?
No. Humans are able to reproduce but yet can exercise the right not to by the use of contraceptives/ preventatives. It is now possible to avoid pregnancy and women do not have as many children as the number of fertile years they possess. It is our duty, as humans, to help the animals.
Neutering only removes sex hormones. As such, the innate character of the animal does not change. Hormone fueled behavior MAY cease/ be reduced (Such as territorial marking, humping, etc) However, I have noted that client’s attitude MAY change (as they feel sorry for the animal) and they may treat their animal differently post- neutering.
Should a female have an offspring at least once in her lifetime?
No. Why would you even think that?? Reproduction is a hormonal and chemical process and has no additional benefits to a female’s health or personality. In fact, young pregnancies (dogs/cats <2 years old) may place a toll on the female’s health due competition and exhaustion of nutrients that should have gone to her own growth.
What if people would like their dog to have puppies?
A juvenile is a fragile creature that is unprotected and hence may inspire compassion. If you want to experience this at home and teach your children the respect for other living creatures, it is not necessary for your own dog to have puppies (or your cat to have kittens). You can phone any animal protection association or shelter. There are nearly always females that are close to giving birth or already have newborn babies. You could care for them until they are ready for adoption. This would be a double rewarding experience: that of taking care of a new life and showing generosity towards abandoned animals.
(I copied this paragraph from a website called SOS Algarve Animals, as there’s no better way to put it!!)
On writing this article, I couldn’t help but visit Quora and I felt heartened by the number of intelligent responses on that forum. I had quite a laugh reading some of the answers,so do visit them here .
Please approach your local veterinarian should you have further questions regarding sterilization and the process it entails.
Have a good weekend everyone! 😻