While the birds begin to sing and the bees begin to sting, spring is the time our pets naturally begin to come out of ‘hibernation’ and seek a mate.
Although we can’t teach our pets to practice safe sex, we can think about surgical and non-surgical approaches to population control.
Desexing is one of the core elements of preventative health. Reasons to opt for surgical neutering include population control, medical considerations such as reducing the risk of testicular cancer, prostate problems or mammary tumours, and behavioural issues such as aggression, roaming and urine marking.
However, not all pet parents feel comfortable with the procedure, citing changes in their dog’s physical appearance and potential health risks as cause for concern. Alas, not to worry, there are alternatives available that don’t have to mean an irreversible procedure.
Suprelorin is a reversible non-surgical castration method launched in Australia in 2007. It is an implant containing deslorelin, a slow releasing hormone which suppresses testosterone (and therefore the ability to successfully mate) for between 6 – 12 months. It is inserted under the dog’s shoulder blades without the need for anaesthetic or surgery, and eventually degrades over time requiring no removal. While this option is not for everyone, its use may be advised on a case by case basis.
Deciding on the ideal time to desex your pet opens up a can of worms and throws fuel to the metaphorical fire of growing controversy in the veterinary world. Your personal veterinarian will decide on an appropriate age based on current scientific evidence, and consideration of the animal’s weight, vaccination status, anticipated first heat, health status and ability to withstand major surgery. Generally, prior to puberty is recommended (6 months in small to medium breeds and up to 12 -18 months in large breeds), unless there is a valid reason to bring forward or delay the procedure.