Puppy Visit 3 – Neutering
What is neutering?
Neutering is a surgical procedure that removes the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy) or the ovaries (ovariectomy) in the female (commonly known as spaying), and the testicles (castration) in the male. This permanent surgery sterilizes your pet so it cannot reproduce.
Why neuter my pet?
Sterilization of the female eliminates unwanted pregnancy, as well as eliminating heat cycles that occur on average every 6 months. It reduces the risk of mammary cancer that is linked to heat cycles, and it reduces the risk of pyometra (infected uterus).
In the male, it reduces unwanted male behavior, such as urine marking and aggression, as well as roaming. It eliminates the risk of testicular tumors, and also reduces the risk of prostatic infections. It does NOT reduce the risk of prostatic cancer.
When to neuter my pet?
There is no definitive “best” time to neuter your dog. Shelter animals are usually neutered before they are adopted, sometimes as early as 8 weeks of age. However, there is new evidence to support waiting much longer than that. Recent studies in Golden Retrievers, Vizslas, Rottweilers and other large breed dogs have shown that early neutering of both males and females MAY increase the incidence of certain cancers and orthopedic problems in these breeds. It is unknown how this applies to smaller breeds. However, multiple heat cycles may increase the incidence of mammary cancer and pyometra in female dogs. Unneutered males also have a higher rate of prostatic infections and testicular cancer. Taking all these factors into account, it is now suggested that neutering at 18 months to 2 years of age may be the best compromise for large breed dogs. For small breed dogs, there is no data to suggest that waiting longer is beneficial. Of course, if you do not have a safe place to keep your female when she is in heat, the risk of accidental pregnancy and pet overpopulation far outweighs the risk of later cancers. If you have concerns about your pet, please discuss it with us!
In cats, there is no clear evidence at this time that early neutering is detrimental in any way. We still recommend surgical sterilization at 6 -7 months for both male and female cats.
Will my pet get fat?
Surgical sterilization does not cause your pet to get fat. Diet, exercise, and heredity have much more influence on the weight of your pet. However, because your neutered pet does not have the caloric needs of an unneutered pet, they should be fed less in order to maintain the same weight.
Oral hygiene is just as important for our pets as it is for the other members of your family. It is easier to start dental care when your pet is young, but any dog can be trained to have the teeth brushed daily. A puppy has 28 deciduous (temporary) teeth; adult teeth start to erupt at 4 months of age, and all 42 teeth should appear at 6 to 7 months of age. Some puppies may still retain their baby teeth at 6 months of age, which leaves no space for the permanent teeth to erupt. If this occurs, these retained deciduous teeth will need to be extracted.
Plaque and tartar accumulate on your pet’s teeth at an early age. This plaque and tartar can lead to gingivitis (infections of the gum). If left untreated, the supporting structures of the tooth will be compromised, leading to tooth decay, pain, and possible bone infection (periodontal disease). Approximately 85% of dogs over three years of age have some degree of periodontal disease. Poor dental health can lead to loss of teeth or accumulation of harmful bacteria, which may cause heart, kidney, and liver disease. The key to preventing dental disease is to start dental care early!
For more information on pet dental care visit: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Pet-Dental-Care.aspx
Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
Your dog’s teeth should be brushed once daily. With a puppy, pick a time of day when they are tired. Begin by letting your pet take the toothpaste – give a special reward when they try it! Slowly progress to touching their teeth (use your finger or finger brush), continue to reward and make it fun. Once you can touch all the teeth easily, advance to using a soft toothbrush; again, continue the reward. Wipe all teeth at the gum line from front and back, with strokes from the gum line to the tip of the tooth. Any fluoride-free toothpaste will work.
Brushing your pet’s teeth and regular veterinary dental exams are the best ways of preventing tartar accumulation and periodontal disease. Dental chew toys can be of benefit, as can water additives (Healthy Mouth). For more information on veterinary accepted chew toys and oral health, refer to the website www.VOHC.org.