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Last month we had Chocolate, our little 8 month old daschund, spayed. A friend of mine commented, "That's inhuman!"
I asked her why it's inhuman. She said that we prevented her from feeling the enjoyment of sex and the fulfillment of her life – to procreate. So I asked her what she would do if her Shih Tzu produces many litters – say 4 puppies per birth, 3 births in her whole life. She said she would only let her get pregnant and give birth once, or twice max. I asked her what she would do to her dog when she's in heat again after the pregnancy and birth, reminding her that a female dog's estrous cycle comes every 6 to 8 months, 3 weeks long every time, in most of her life. She said she'd keep her away from any male dog so as to not get pregnant. Well, isn't that denying her sex, I asked. Errrr....... she couldn't answer.
Then I asked her what she would do to the 8 litters, she can't possibly keep all of them. Well, she said she'd give them to other people, and offer them for sale. How is she going to be sure the puppies will enjoy as much love from the new owners as the mum has had from her? Errr..... another silence.
These are exactly why we decided to spay Chocolate. We just can't possibly keep more than one or two dogs if we want to give them as great a care and love as we've been giving Chocolate. On the other hand we would feel too guilty to give Chocolate's babies away. So it's better for her not to have any litter. When we're ready to get another puppy then we'll do what we did when we acquired Chocolate – go to a breeder for a healthy puppy.
In fact, this is what a lot of vets, kennel organisations and animal shelters recommend, to spay or neuter our dogs if we're not ready to take the responsibility to become proper breeder. The reason? Too many dogs already in the world. Owners who can't keep more than one or two give the puppies away, or sold them. The unlucky ones get to shelters, dumped on the street or worse, get put down. I suppose the other reason kennel organisations and purebred dog breeders would prefer laymen to have their dogs neutered is to ensure the pureness and quality of the purebreds.
For us, the other reason is of course because we don't want male dogs to bark around, sneak into or invade our home whenever Chocolate's in heat, or she trying to escape to mate. We also would feel sorry for her if she's in heat and yet denied mating. Hence, after all the vaccinations are complete and she looked as healthy as ever, we made the appointment with the vet.
Even though the vet ensures that it is a routine procedure, the fact that Chocolate would be put in general anesthetic worried us a bit. So we dug out information from books and the internet on spaying. Here's the summary:
Spaying & Neutering Info
Spaying or ovario-hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes which are the reproductive organs of the female animal. Neutering or orchectomy or castration is the surgical removal of the reproductive glands (testes) of the male animal. The sterilisation of dogs is a day procedure performed by veterinarians under general anesthetics, but most dogs are back to normal within 24 hours of the surgery.
In preparation for surgery, the animal's abdominal fur is clipped, and the skin is scrubbed with antiseptic. The dog is then given an intravenous injection and a tube is inserted through the nose or mouth into the airway to maintain breathing. The anesthetic drugs that are used are safe well-known drugs that are also used in people. While the pet is unconscious the surgery is performed through a ventral (belly) midline incision below the belly button. The incision size varies depending upon the surgeon and the size of the animal. The vet would identify the uterine horns and then follow the horns to find the fallopian tubes and ovaries. The arteries of these organs are then tied, cut and the organs removed. After that the abdomen is checked for bleeding and then closed. The muscle and fat layer will be sutured with absorbable suture material. The skin is then stapled, sutured, or glued closed. The procedure takes from 15 minutes to an hour to perform, depending on the size of the animal and the experience of the surgeon.
After the surgery usually the dog is able to go home right away, but in some cases it must stay in the hospital overnight. The incision should be kept clean and dry and should be checked often for sign of infection, swelling, redness, and discharge. If the dog has external sutures or staples, they are removed by the veterinarian 10 to 14 days after surgery. Dogs can resume usual meals the day after surgery but the pet's activities should be limited for the first week or so following surgery and they should be protected from stressful environments. Medicines are usually prescribed and these should be given according to the directions.
Most sites on pet sterilisation say that there are health benefits in doing sterilisation, which include lowering risks of mammary, uterian, ovarian or testicular cancer and uterine infections. In male dogs sterilisation help reduce hormonal influenced behaviours like mounting, territorial urine marking, escaping and roaming in search of females and fighting with other male dogs.
Some site however, mentioned studies that show that there are increased health risks in spayed or neutered dogs, one of which is an increase risk in developing bone cancer. Other disadvantages come with the surgery procedure, in the form of risks in anesthetic and surgical complications such as bleeding and infections.
There are many different opinions on when a dog should be sterilised. Apparently some vets believe it is better to spay a female dog after a period of heat, while some other prefer to spay them early, as early as a few weeks old. All of course agrees that the dog should be in excellent health when having the procedure.
Many myths surround the sterilisation subject. Some people worried their dogs would become fat after the spaying but vets consider this a myth. According to them dogs become fat because their owners feed them too much and give them too few exercise. Some owners worry that their dogs would change personality after the surgery but many sites say that this is false. The dog may get calmer but it will retain its character.
There are alternatives to surgery for sterilisation, such as injections for male dogs and birth control pills for female dogs. However these are considered unreliable procedures and could have serious unwanted side effects.
The day little Chocolate underwent her surgery she was brought there early in the morning and picked up again in the evening. She came home wearing a plastic cone-shaped protector in her neck, to prevent her from licking her wound. We couldn't see the stitches in her belly as it was covered with a bandage. Chocolate was quiet and listless after the surgery and she wasn't her normal feisty-fearless-tireless self. But she wasn't whimpering and kept walking around the kitchen, albeit slowly. We moved her basket from upstairs to the kitchen so she won't be running up and down as usual. The vet prescribed antibiotics which were given to her daily.
It broke my heart to not be able to be at her side after her surgery and I cried a little to see her so quiet. But our feisty little puppy was back to her usual active self two days after that and she tried hard to take off the cone protector. We took it off and just keep an eye on her so she didn't tear off the bandage. But in two days the bandage was off and we could see the three small stitches. We were worried but there's no sign of redness, swelling or discharge, so obviously everything was fine. The vet pronounced her healthy and she showed every sign of health. One thing though – she doesn't show any sign of calming down!
general info on dog sterilisation
http://www.dlgrd.wa.gov.au/LocalGovt/DogOwnership/Sterilising.asp http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaying_and_neutering http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1625&articleid=926
myth and facts about spaying & neutering
advantages and disadvantages of spaying & neutering