Thursday, Jul. 15th 2010

Spay or neuter your pet!

Veterinary Alternatives Newsletter, July and August 2010

Since holistic care is all about the health of the whole animal, in this issue I’m going to present some myths and facts about surgical sterilization of pets. Please feel free to share this information with anyone you know who needs it (i.e. the neighbor constantly advertising free kittens or the person who wants their pet to have one litter so the kids can see). Not only is pet overpopulation a huge problem in this country, there are many health reasons to have a pet altered. In just ONE shelter in the Kansas City area, nearly 2000 animals (yes, that’s three zeroes) are euthanized EVERY MONTH for lack of enough pet homes. Perhaps a relative scarcity of puppies and kittens would help people value their pets more highly and take better care of them.


Myth: Having a litter helps a female pet “settle down”.

Facts: Most female animals mentally mature at around the same age that they first have the ability to produce a litter. This is simply a timing issue. Just like a teenager having a baby, reproduction does not increase the brain’s ability to behave a certain way. Training is the way to settle a pet down.


Myth: It is beneficial for children to “experience the reproductive process”.

Facts: There are many better and more predictable ways to do this including books, videos, and school sex ed classes. What if something goes wrong? Will it be beneficial for your child to see Fluffy eat a stillborn kitten or Muffin to rupture her uterus and die? Better to learn about reproduction in pets by reading them this newsletter, then go rent a video.


Myth: I can make some money breeding my purebred pet.

Facts: If done properly (vaccination and vet care of mother, vet care for babies, etc) you may manage to break even IF nothing goes wrong. If x-rays, antibiotics, or Caesarean section are needed you will probably not make money. Are you also prepared to bottle feed if mom rejects the babies? Has your dog been certified free of eye and hip diseases that may be passed to the pups? Is your pet a proven champion in either the conformation ring or performance events? The only purebred pets that SHOULD be bred are those that have proven they will maintain or improve the breed’s health and fitness and meet or exceed breed standards for conformation. Just because a pet has “papers” does not mean they are fit for breeding. I personally have examined many papered purebred pets with poor bite, hernias, bad knees, hip dysplasia, or poor temperament. All of those should be altered and never bred.


Myth: The risk of surgery is too high.

Facts: While no surgery can be said to be 100% without risk, elective surgical sterilization of a young, healthy animal is about as low risk as it can get. Most vets have done so many spays and neuters that they are highly skilled and the surgery is fairly rapid, minimizing time under anesthesia. You do get what you pay for with all surgeries, so shopping for lowest price is not a good idea—would you want your hysterectomy performed by the lowest bidder? Higher price usually indicates more anesthetic monitoring, good pre-surgical exam and bloodwork to be sure your pet is healthy, and often IV fluids during surgery and better post-surgical pain control. Make sure you know what is included in the cost.


Myth: There’s no good reason to spay or neuter other than to avoid unwanted litters.

Facts: While that reason alone IS a good reason, there are many health benefits. Male cats and dogs are more likely to get into fights or wander, which can lead to bite wounds, abscesses, being hit by cars, exposure to bite-transmitted diseases, and being picked up by animal control. Male intact dogs are also known to be higher risk for biting people and attacking children. Prostate infections and cancer of the prostate or testicles are also higher risk in unaltered dogs. Female dogs and cats allowed to have ONLY ONE heat cycle are at much higher risk of mammary (breast) cancer (80% reduction in risk if spayed before the first heat, 50% reduction if before the second) which is almost always fatal in cats and 50% chance of malignancy in dogs. Uterine infection (pyometra) is a very serious disease in intact female dogs and requires an emergency spay of a very sick dog to save her life—better to spay while they are young and healthy! Uterine and ovarian cancer also occurs in dogs and cats and is eliminated by ovariohysterectomy (spay). Finally, unaltered pets are more likely to urine mark in the house, and their urine tends to have a much stronger odor.


Myth: Altered pets get fat and lazy.

Facts: Eating too much and too little exercise makes pets fat and lazy. While it is true that altering does slightly decrease the metabolism, it is easy to avoid obesity with a proper diet in appropriate amounts for the level of exercise the pet will receive. Veterinary Alternatives can help you come up with an appropriate diet for your pet’s activity level and health status.


Myth: Raising a litter of puppies or kittens is fun!

Facts: Playing with puppies and kittens is fun. Making sure they get vaccinations and dewormings on time, cleaning up after them over and over and over, bottle-feeding if necessary, cleaning up after they eat, and making sure they get properly socialized and begin the training process, filling out registration paperwork, treating them if they get sick, THEN trying to find good homes for them is NOT so much fun. Being a successful pet breeder is WORK. If you just want to play with baby animals, animal shelters are always looking for volunteers.


Myth: Lots of people love my pet and want one of her babies.

Facts: Are you exactly like your parents? Are your children exactly like you? Do you have firm commitments from all those people that they WILL take a baby? Are you comfortable with the fact that every puppy or kitten you produce will cause the death of a shelter animal because now that home is no longer available for placement of a shelter pet?


One final note regarding “designer pets”. A Goldendoodle or Puggle is nothing more than a mixed breed dog. They are not registerable, they may not be shown as a purebred, and since they are hybrids, they will not breed true. Paying hundreds of dollars for a mixed breed dog when you could adopt one from a shelter for a fraction of the cost is simply bad economics. ‘nuff said on that subject.


I do apologize for perhaps preaching a bit in this newsletter, especially since my clients are not really in need of this information. However, being the type of pet owners you are, people are likely to listen to you because of your obvious commitment to your pet and its health. The more people armed with the facts, the better educated the world can become. Pass this information on in whatever form you choose—the more people who hear this message, the happier and healthier our pet world will become, and THAT’S what holistic medicine is all about.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Spay or neuter your pet!

Comments are closed.

Whole Health Pet Center
18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083

Facebook Google+ YouTube

In order to better serve our clients, we ask that you contact us to make an appointment.

Payment expected upon provision of service.

© Whole Health Pet Center. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy
Site Created by KC Web Specialists, LLC.