I started writing about this on the Island Vet Clinic Facebook page but it turned out to be so long that I thought it would be better posted here.
So it's one of the "MYTH-BUSTER" series and today's topic is: On Sterilisatons
2.1 - Only females should be sterilised
How many times have I seen surprised faces when I proposed sterilising a male. In our culture, some firmly believe that the males should be left intact to roam and "enjoy"...a bit by projection of our sexist society? Well...surprise people!!In fact if the authorities and NGOs involved in dog population control wanted to have an impact, they should be emphasizing the sterilisation of....males! Yes! Males...Think about it...if you sterilise 1 female, its only that one female that would not breed, whereas if you sterilise a male...its about 15 - 20 females that would not get pregnant. This, coupled with the fact that it is much easier, quicker and cheaper to sterilise a male should have made people think but old, culture-driven ways of thinking are hard to get rid of...but I keep telling...just in case
2.2 - My dog will become dumb after sterilisation,
While sterilisation (male or female) seriously disbalances the hormonal system of your dog...it soon balances everything in a process called Homeostasis whereby the body adapts and compensates. While this may affect the aggressivity and hyperactivity linked with sex hormones, it has little to no effect on the dogs brain...In fact, when "freed" from its sexual drives the dog spends more time socialising with the owners and stays at home...which in itself makes the animal more sociable, responsive (what we affectionately call "intelligent") and a better member of the family
2.3 - I have to let my female have at least one litter before sterilising
This is based on the fact that people humanise animal's feelings too much, a well known phenomenon called "Anthropomorphism". The idea is that it is cruel to deprive the female from the joy of birthing and nursing pups. While this may seem compassionate and caring, it seriously puts the female at risk; as a surgeon having spayed thousands of animals, I can tell you that the longer you wait, the more complicated is the surgery and the greater are all the risks associated with it. Females (dogs/cats) should be spayed as early as 6 months of age. At this age, they can tolerate anaesthesia better and the uterus and ovaries are distinct enough to be successfully located and removed
2.4 - If I do not sterilise my dog it will get cancer
I have been hearing that a lot of times, in the days, from people who used that as a line to convince villagers to bring dogs for sterilisation...and I heard that from an "educated" person last week!
No scientific basis for this at all! While some unspayed animals (males/females)may catch a serious venereal tumour through copulation this does not mean that all of them will get cancer. Its like saying that everybody who buys a car will be involved in a car accident!
Same thing goes for some cancer of ovaries and testicles...whilst sterilisation removes that risk, it is wrong to say that if you do not sterilise, your animal will get cancer
Enough? Ok! One last for the road on sterilisations
2.5 - It's less dangerous to have my female on hormonal heat suppression each time than have her spayed
Can you see my angry face? Well, while this may be financially better for your vet, it is extremely dangerous for your dog!! 9 out of 10 dogs that come to me with serious infection of the uterus have been on heat suppression pills before. The risk comes from the fact that the hormonal pills suppress ovulation but create abnormal growths in the uterine wall and... keeps the cervix open for prolonged periods of time.When its not for natural reasons (ovulation, birth and menses), an open cervix is rarely good news for a female...this is an open gateway for all sorts of bacteria and fungi to travel up from the vagina into the uterus and when it eventually closes, its closing on all of this. The bugs then fester on the outgrowths and in no time the uterus is just a bag of pus!!...and if this is potentially fatal!
So get that dog/kitty sterilised once and for all, rather than putting her at so much risk by trying to be "kind".
Sterilisation is the way to go... but for the right reasons!