Continued from last week

We have arrived at the point where we may discuss the final and most reliable method of birth control – the spay.

Spaying

20110807petcornerThe technical term for spaying is ovariohysterectomy.  If that long word were to be broken up and translated, it would literally mean ‘removing the ovaries and the womb.’  Obviously, it is the most effective method of ensuring that the female dog does not get pregnant, simply because the uterus (or womb) is removed.  In fact, the bitch will not even come in heat, since the ovaries would also have been taken out during the surgery.  The fallopian tubes (oviducts) are also excised during the spay.

Some people have heard that when a female is spayed she becomes fat or lethargic.  A bitch who becomes fat is getting too much to eat.  Many people forget that a grown dog (by proportion to weight) needs less food than a puppy.  Since a bitch often is spayed at the end of her puppyhood, if she gets too much to eat and puts on weight, the tendency is to blame incorrectly the operation.

Another misconception is that a bitch needs to have a litter to be “fulfilled.” Dogs are people oriented.  They seek human companionship and look to their owners for personal fulfilment.  On the whole, we pet owners should desist from giving our pets human attributes – like the need to be fulfilled,  the way humans need to have and aspire towards some sort of defined emotional duty.  Of course, this is not to say that dogs/cats do not harbour feelings of jealousy, fear, anger, remorse, guilt, etc – all human traits.

There are also certain health benefits to ovariohysterectomy.  One does not have to worry about the pus-in-the-womb ailment (pyometra, see Feb, 3 & 10). Also, a spayed bitch is less likely to get breast cancer.

Finally there is no messy heat (with all the concomitant headaches, not lastly those associated with male suitors) to go through twice a year.

The best time to spay most females is after they are six/seven months of age, and just before they go into their first heat.  These figures are at best guidelines.  We have seen females in heat at 5½-6 months of age; or they might come into their first heat when they are 10-11 months old.  At this time the operation is easy to perform and there is less chance of complications.  The surgery should never be carried out if the bitch is in heat.

After you have made arrangements to have your female spayed, be sure to withhold food and water from her on the evening prior to surgery.  This operation is done under general anaesthesia.  A full stomach could result in vomiting and aspiration of food particles into the lungs during the induction of anaesthesia.  Check with your veterinarian concerning other special instructions or precautions to be taken before and after the operation.

Male castration
Well, since we are discussing prevention of pregnancy, one cannot help but introduce the other obvious option and that is removing the testicles of the males, especially those with whom the female can easily come in contact (eg kennel mates).
Castration is an operation in which both testicles are surgically removed.  When the male is castrated after sexual maturity, his sex drive may be normal, even though he is unable to get a bitch pregnant.  When a dog is castrated before puberty, his sexual urges do not develop.  However, castration before puberty is not recommended.  It is likely to have an adverse effect on the development of bone and body structure, and secondary sex traits of the male dog.

Castration sometimes is advised to tone down an overly boisterous or aggressive male, or one who continuously urinates in the house or is otherwise obtrusive and unmanageable.  Unfortunately, overindulgent owners (not male hormones) are often at fault.  The dog must be shown his place in the household hierarchy.

It is a good idea to discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of obedience training or other steps which could be taken to modify unruly behaviour before deciding upon castration.

Castration may also be indicated for medical reasons.  It is recommended in some cases of testicular disease, chronic prostatitis, and perianal adenomas.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.