Thursday, April 3, 2008

What age should I spay my pet?

I get this question all the time. I recommend 4 months of age for most dogs and cats. Yes, there is some evidence that spaying early may lead to an increase in urinary tract issues in dogs. However, we know for sure that the chance of getting mammary cancer goes up dramatically if the dog has a heat cycle first. Also, dogs and cats can get pregnant as early as 6 months in some areas of the country. If you want to avoid a litter you need to get your pet spayed before the first heat. So here are my recommendations:

Female Dogs: 4 months.

The risk of urinary tract infection is far out-weighted by the risk of mammary cancer. It's also easier on the dog. A 4 month old dog can be spayed in as little as 6 minutes. Once they get to 60lbs., it can take 30-45 minutes.

Dog Neuters: 4-6 months

You can wait a little longer in the males because most of the effects of testosterone will be reversed once the source is gone. Waiting longer does have some risk. Some behaviors, once learned, may stay with the dog after the neuter, such as marking territory and aggression.

Female Cats 4 months.

Many people find cat's behavior during estrus undesirable. And that's being nice. Cat's in heat howl and carry on, and worse, they are induced ovulators. This means they won't go out of heat until they breed. You will like your cat much better if you get her spayed before the first heat.

Male Cats 4-6 months.

Once a cat sprays in your house you will wish you had him neutered before the spraying started. And neutering him may not stop it.

You should talk with your veterinarian about the optimum age to have your pet altered. You may want to wait for a variety of reasons: breeding the dog, showing the dog or waiting for male characteristics to develop. I just like people to keep in m ind two facts: 1) Most pets that are relinquished to a shelter are there for behavioral reasons, and 2) A Cesarean section (surgery to remove puppies or kittens from mom) costs more than $1000 in most places. Get the dog or cat spayed or neutered.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Not on Topic

I was sent a this website by a friend. It's a great little book for children who are going to the doctor or the hospital. Who doens't need a little friend when we're scared at the doctor's office?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Caues of Urinary Tract Infections

This weekend at my practice we saw a dog that ate rat poison LAST WEEK. The dog was bleeding from everywhere and had bruises all over her body. Fortunately, we were able to save her. However, treatment was delayed for at least 3 hours because of malpractice. They called their regular veterinarian who told the clients that the dog had a urinary tract infection and would be fine until Monday. That dog would have been dead on Monday. So here is a partial list of things that can cause your dog to drink more water and urinate more:

Diabetes Insipidus (A hormonal disease)
Diabetes Mellitus (too much sugar in the blood)
Kidney Failure
Drugs, Toxins
Hyperadrenocortisism (Cushing's Disease, too much steroid hormone)
Hypoadrenocortisism (Addison's Disease, to little steroid hormone)
Kidney or Bladder Infection
Pyometra (Infected Uterus)
Feline Lower Urinary Tract disease

This list is not intended to scare you, but once again remind you why we can't diagnose over the phone!


Two items of interest that I came across this weekend: First Progressive Auto Insurance now covers your pet if they are in the car with you. According to the press release they will pay for up to $500 for injuries received during an accident. Wonder if this covers your hamster when he steals the keys to the Barbi Ferrari?
Second, this spring the American College of Veterinary Surgeons will start to accredit veterinary technicians in a surgical specialty. This may seem a bit odd to you, especially if your veterinarian hires high school grads to care for your pet, but it's a big step. Surgery in pets have gotten as complicated as it is in humans. My practice has a veterinarian who applies plates to broken legs, fixes bad backs and has removed damaged lung lobes. We only use veterinary technicians (and technician students from the local college) in our practice. Our clients want the best, and this is one way of improving the quality of care.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

NSAIDS and Pain, Why They Don't Mix

This is another in the “MYTH” series. It’s an expansion of a handout provided by a magazine called Clinician’s Brief Vet Team advisor. (

Here are the top myths surrounding Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (i.e., Rimadyl, Duragesic, Previcox, and on….)

1) If a dog is not showing signs of pain, it’s not painful.
This one should be obvious. For starters, the dog or cat may be lying around because it hurts too much to move. How many times have you pulled a muscle and then went for a run?

2) If a pet doesn’t respond to one type of medication, then they won’t respond to any.
This is not true at all. I have allergies. Some antihistamines don’t work at all. Some make me a functional person. If I had given up on the first one I tried I might have doomed myself to a lifetime of suffering.

3) Once your pet starts feeling better you can stop the medication.
Again, your veterinarian is not trying to rip you off; the medication may need to be given, at least occasionally, for the rest of your pet’s life. The medication makes the dog fell better and gets rid of the pain, but right now we don’t have any medication that reverses the changes that occur to your pet’s joints and bones. Those of us in our 40’s wish that medication would hurry up and find its way to market!

4) NSAIDS cause ulcers
Yes, when given in the wrong dosage or to pets with other medical conditions, ulcers can be a problem. And yes, they do occur without warning in some pets. However, the potential risk of a side effect is very small and in many cases the risk-reward is worth it for pets in pain. Just for fun, pick any medicine in your cabinet and ready the warning section. That should make you think twice about just popping pills.

5) Labradors are more sensitive to NSAIDS.
This is just false. Labs are more likely to have bad hips, and therefore more likely to be on medication. For example, you’re more likely to die in a car wreck if you have a driver’s license.

6) A dog on medication for pain will become more active and further hurt themselves.
Think about this for a second. You are choosing to leave your pet in pain so that he will live a longer life. Kind of the way you want to go? This also is based on 1960’s thinking. Pets that move around will actually help themselves by building muscle and losing weight.

7) NSAIDS will cause liver failure.
Again, we have dogs on this medication for years and this has not turned out to be true. Now, we also have the ability to support the liver with new medications and testing.