Benefits of spaying and neutering your dog

This month we explore ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies in female dogs and raise awareness of their mating ‘heat cycle.’ In the next issue we will discuss cats. Sterilizing dogs and cats, is the process of neutering the male and spaying the female through surgery.

Female dogs become sexually mature when they have their first mating ‘heat cycle,’ and smaller dogs can sexually mature faster than larger dogs. It is important to understand a female dog’s mating period, which consists of four stages: proestrus, estrus, dietrus and amestus.

One of the first signs of her coming into ‘heat’ is vaginal bleeding, which generally lasts between four to nine days; in addition, her vulva will swell. This is the first stage of the heat cycle, called proestrus. Male dogs will become attracted to female dogs early in the second estrus stage, lasting from four to 13 days, a period during which a female dog can become pregnant. The whole heat cycle can last up to 30 days. Her first estrus stage is generally between the ages of six months to one year.

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Neutering a male (removal of the testes) and spaying a female (removal of the ovaries and uterus) is required to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Traditional surgical techniques include scalpels; however, laser surgery is now becoming a popular option among veterinarians in Vietnam. Surgery is completed in a couple of hours and if you arrange to bring your dog in the morning to the clinic, barring complications during surgery, your dog should be home the same day. A return visit to the vet will be needed to remove the stitches for both male and female. Become vigilant of your dog during the recovery period to make sure there is proper healing.

When is the Right Time and Age?

It is recommended to spay female dogs before their first heat cycle. Male dogs can be neutered at any time after eight weeks of age, generally before reaching puberty. Most dogs are sexually mature by the age of five or six months.

Changes in Personality

Both female and male dogs experience changes in personality during a female’s heat cycle. Hormones are raging in both sexes and the female, especially, will become overly sensitive. Males that are usually gentle may become aggressive towards anyone or anything that is in their way of getting to that female dog in heat in the vicinity. Generally, for both sexes, sterilization reduces aggressive behavior.

The males will become calmer with lower levels of testosterone and ‘mark’ less, and eliminate roaming, humping and other male dominance related behaviors. Many owners in Vietnam should have their dogs neutered so they can become more social in public with people and other dogs.

Health Issues

Spaying helps prevent mammary tumors called pyometra resulting from hormonal and structural changes to the lining of the uterus, and it also prevents uterine and ovarian cancers.

Neutering can reduce testicular and prostate cancer, and prevent against Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor, which is widespread in Vietnam.

According to Catherine Besch, co-founder of Vietnam Animal Welfare Organization, sterilization is recommended to prevent needless suffering of domestic pets in Vietnam. “When done correctly, spaying and neutering causes minimal pain and suffering to the animal and will help prolong its life. This is the first step in limiting the population of unwanted animals and making the comfort and health of pets in Vietnam a top priority.”

The average dog owner in Vietnam simply misunderstands the critical need for sterilization, usually voicing concerns over the financial cost or that it’s not ‘natural’ or not allowing a dog to experience the ‘miracle of life.’

WHERE TO GO

RECOMMENDED ENGLISH-SPEAKING VET CLINICS

Saigon Pet Clinic & Pet Care Hospital (District 2) Modern Pet Hospital or Sasaki Animal Clinic (District 7)

LOCAL ANIMAL RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS WITH LOW-COST STERILIZATION PROGRAMS

Animal Rescue & Care (ARC) and Saigon Pet Clinic — English and Vietnamese speaking staff Yeu Dong Vat — Vietnamese-language only website

BIO: With a family that includes six cats, two dogs and a couple of dozen fish, Wayne Capriotti is a zoo curator and, along with his wife, publishes Vietnam’s first pet magazine Me Thu Cung.