The right time to get your dog de­sexed


Ask any dog owner and they will tell you one of the big­gest de­ci­sions they faced was when to have their pet de­sexed.

New dog own­ers are in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion to new par­ents; they will re­ceive an abun­dance of ad­vice from fam­ily, friends and com­plete strangers at the park, and will have to nav­i­gate through the myths and half-truths to find the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion.

Some will say that neu­ter­ing a male dog re­moves his male­ness, an­other will ad­vo­cate for at least one lit­ter from a fe­male dog be­fore spay­ing, as it’s more nat­u­ral for them. An­other post could sug­gest that dogs be­come lazy and put on weight fol­low­ing de­sex­ing, and that it’s best to wait un­til they reach adult­hood.

In fact it is rec­om­mended that de­sex­ing of dogs is per­formed at an early age, gen­er­ally around six months. This can avoid de­vel­op­ment of re­pro­duc­tion­re­lated prob­lems such as tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, prostate can­cer/dis­or­ders in males and ovar­ian tu­mours, py­ome­tra (acute uter­ine in­fec­tion), and mam­mary tu­mours in fe­males.

Ob­vi­ously de­sex­ing also pre­vents un­wanted lit­ters. It’s es­ti­mated that, if never spayed or neutered, a fe­male dog, her mate, and their pup­pies could pro­duce over 66,000 dogs in six years – so the re­pro­duc­tive ef­fect is mas­sive. What’s more, there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that an­i­mals feel de­prived or even no­tice that they have had their re­pro­duc­tive or­gans re­moved.

Be­cause de­sex­ing re­moves the re­pro­duc­tive or­gans, hor­mone lev­els will change and this can re­duce a dog’s ac­tiv­ity lev­els. With this in mind, own­ers should ad­just the amount and type of food – such as switch­ing from puppy to adult feed – to en­sure the dog doesn’t gain weight. Obe­sity and lazi­ness in dogs is gen­er­ally down to poor diet and ex­er­cise and not a side-ef­fect of de­sex­ing. Re­mem­ber you are in con­trol of the food in­take.

A body of sci­en­tific re­search shows that neu­ter­ing can re­duce a range of be­havioural prob­lems in­clud­ing mount­ing, ag­gres­sion and roam­ing. Wan­der­ing dogs can get into a lot of trou­ble and run a high risk of be­ing hit by cars. Last year 76 per cent of the im­pounded dogs at Auck­land Coun­cil’s Manukau an­i­mal shel­ter hadn’t been de­sexed.

Just like food and shel­ter, re­spon­si­ble pet own­er­ship in­cludes ar­rang­ing for your dog to be de­sexed and in recog­ni­tion of this most coun­cils have lower reg­is­tra­tion fees for de­sexed dogs.

When it comes to mak­ing the de­sex­ing decision own­ers are best to fol­low the ad­vice of pro­fes­sion­als who can dis­cuss the ad­van­tages and any po­ten­tial dis­ad­van­tages with re­gards to your dog. ❚ Vicki Whitaker is the team leader of Auck­land Coun­cil’s Western An­i­mal Shel­ter.

Your dog should be de­sexed at an early age, gen­er­ally when they are about six months old.

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