Vets Like No Balls

By Dr Marthie Kleynhans

Why sterilise your pet?

Pet sterilisations are not only important to your pet’s health but will also have a huge impact on communities where animal overpopulation is a big issue. Thousands of animals are handed over to shelters, SPCA’s and welfare institutions across South Africa and sadly many of them do not make it out alive. Every pet owner must take responsibility for their pet’s health and wellbeing and thus must understand the important role they are playing by sterilising their animals and the impact it will have on the community.

For example: If one unspayed female cat has 3 litters of 4-6 kittens per year, then she can produce 12-18 kittens per year who will need food and homes. By the end of 8 months the first litter of kittens will already be sexually active and can produce kittens of their own! You do the maths. This is a vicious cycle and can only be stopped by sterilising animals.

What does it mean when you sterilise your animal?

Sterilisation is a surgical procedure performed by a veterinarian to remove the reproductive tract from an animal. The term “spay” is used when a vet removes a female’s ovaries and uterus. The term “neuter” or “castration” is used when a male dogs testicles are removed. By removing their reproductive tract, the animal’s ability to reproduce babies and the hormones that cause sexual behaviour are taken away.

When should your pet be sterilised?

Your pet can be sterilised between the ages of 4-6 months. At welfare clinics the puppies and kittens are sometimes sterilised from the age of 9 weeks to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

It is a myth that a female should only be sterilised after her first heat cycle (oestrus cycle) or after her first litter. By sterilizing your pet at a young age you will prevent unwanted pregnancies and your pet will lead a healthier life, because if you spay your pet before her first heat cycle you will greatly reduce her chances of getting mammary cancer.

What are the benefits of sterilisation?

Your female pet will benefit greatly as spaying will prevent uterine infections and breast cancer. It will also prevent your female from getting uterine and ovarian cancer. By removing her reproductive tract you will also get rid of her hormones that cause unwanted sexual behaviour. It will then also prevent her from coming on heat and getting blood all over your furniture and attracting wandering male dogs to your yard.

Neutering your male animals will decrease their chances of getting prostatic disease and will eliminate the chances of getting testicular cancer. He will then also be less likely to spray and mark his territory.

In general, it will help to keep your animal calmer and reduce their anxiety levels if they are sterilised at a young age. It will also help to prevent unwanted sexual behaviour. For you it will also be cost-effective as your pets will not get the above mentioned diseases which can increase your vet bill dramatically.

What is the impact of sterilisation on the community?

By sterilising animals you can directly prevent unwanted litters of kittens and puppies, and in the end prevent an over-population of unsterilised animals wandering around. It will also decrease the number of male dogs roaming around, which will then automatically decrease the number of dog fights, car accidents and dogs or cats getting into garbage cans. In some cases, sterilisation helps to reduce the animal’s aggression towards other animals and humans.

Sexually transmissible diseases like TVT (Transmissible venereal tumour) in dogs, will also be less of a problem when you sterilise animals, as it is transmitted by sexual contact and by sniffing each other’s genitals.

Conclusion

By sterilising your pet you will not only have a happy and healthy animal, but you will also make a positive impact on your community and help prevent unwanted puppies and kittens being put down.

In the end please remember the following: The only balls a dog needs are the ones he fetches – spay and neuter your pets!

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