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Spay And Neuter: The Pros, The Cons, And Things To Consider

spay-neuter

The pros and cons of spaying and neutering

Spay and neuter – that’s a very common thing that we hear almost every day now. Many pet owners approach me and ask my opinion regarding the matter. Some are very supportive towards the spay/neuter program, some are still considering whether their pets need it or not, while some others are hesitant or worried about the side effects of it. So what are the pros and cons of spaying/neutering?

Let’s start with the pros:

  • No off-spring (obviously!).
    Finding homes for your new family members is not as easy as you may think. Every year about 17 million dogs and cats were turned over to animal shelters. Only one out of every 10 taken in to the shelters found a home. This means that over 13.5 million had to be destroyed. The tragedy is that this is unnecessary. Much of the problem could be eliminated by a simple surgery: sterilization. By sterilizing pets, owners can help lower the numbers of unwanted and homeless animal companions.
  • No risk of pyometra in queens and bitches. Pyometra is an infection of the uterus that may occur in dogs and cats. The uterus is generally filled with pus. Removing the whole uterus will eliminate the risk of getting pyometra.
  • Less risk of mammary cancer.
  • No dominance and aggressive behavior.
    Dominance and aggression are often (but not always) related to sexual hormone. Getting your pets spayed and neutered removes their sexual hormone which also removes their dominant and aggressive behavior. This is especially helpful to reduce fights in a pack of male dogs or in a clowder of toms.
  • More gentle, more calm, and more affectionate pets.

 

Apart from the pros, here are the cons of spaying/neutering:

  • Excessive weight. Neutered pets tend to become fatter because their metabolism is slower once the sexual hormones are removed. This problem can be solved by decreasing your pet’s meal portion and take them for more exercise.
  • Hormonal imbalance and diseases related to it. A few examples of common hormonal imbalance diseases are hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease. Dr. Karen Becker wrote that Dr. Jack Oliver, who ran the University of Tennessee’s adrenal lab, said that indeed adrenal disease was occurring at epidemic proportions in dogs in the U.S. and was certainly tied to sex hormone imbalance (read full article here).

De-sex, sterile, intact. Which one is better?

Before we start reading the answers, let’s familiarize ourselves with these terms to make sure we’re on the same page:

  1. De-sex: the animals have all their reproduction organs removed. Females do not have ovaries and males do not have testicles anymore. Hence they cannot breed and they don’t have their sexual hormones secreted. Examples of this practice are spay and castration.
  2. Sterile: the animals have their reproduction organ partially removed so they cannot breed and produce offspring, but they still have sexual hormones secreted by ovary or testicle. They still have their sexual hormones and minimal behavioral change is observed. Examples of this practice are tubal ligation, hysterectomy/ovary sparing spay/partial spay (applicable in bitches, but not preferred in queens), and vasectomy.
  3. Intact: no change is made to the animal’s reproductive systems. They still have their reproductive organs and hormones, and can produce offspring.

Spay and castration are the most common methods for de-sexing, but there’s another option called sterilization. If you ask me which one is better, I always opt for sterilization without fully de-sexing the pets. Popular methods of this option are ovary-sparing spay and vasectomy.

In sterilization, your pets will have almost no risk of hormonal imbalance and behavior change is minimal because the reproductive system is kept in a more natural condition than de-sexing.

Bitches which are sterilized but still have at least one ovary intact will still show signs of heat in their behavior. Some people refer this to “clean heat” because there will be no blood, but the bitch will still show heat behaviors.

Should I get my pets fixed?

i-need-fixed

Like I always say, you know your pet better than anyone else and eventually the decision is yours. However here are a few things to take into consideration before deciding to have your pets de-sexed or sterilized:

  • Indoor or outdoor pets. If you keep your pets indoor all the time and they have no chance to meet (or breed) with neighboring animals, maybe they need neither de-sexing nor sterilization. However if you don’t supervise your pets outside, please sterilize them so you are not contributing to the stray overpopulation problem. Don’t be an irresponsible pet owner who allows your intact pet outside without a leash and direct supervision.
  • Hyperactive and aggressive pets. Aggression and hyperactivity are related to sexual hormone. Most pets become less aggressive and less active after they’re de-sexed because the hormone producing organs are removed. If your pet is highly aggressive and dangerous, de-sexing is an option, but of course a better solution is to contact an animal behaviorist to alter their aggressive behavior.
  • Number of pets. If you have more than one pets in your place, they make hierarchy and normally there’s only one dominant male leading the group. The presence of other dominant males in the group will lead to fighting and possibly injuries. If you experience this problem with your pets it’s better to have them de-sexed.
  • Species of your pets:
    1. Old bitches are prone to pus-filled uterus infection called pyometra. It can’t be treated with antibiotics and the only way to treat is to remove the uterus through surgery. If you have a bitch then you should consider spaying her in her young/adult age. When a bitch is too old, there are higher risks of getting a surgery done on them (for example they may not survive anaesthesia, they make slow recovery, the surgical wound may lead to a complicated health problems, etc) and in this case often the final solution to pyometra is to put them to sleep.
    2. Spaying in queens have less complication and less negative impacts compared to spay in bitches. The only negative impact they will experience is being overweight. No significant case of hormonal imbalance disease has been observed in spayed queens.

The decision to sterilize, spay, or neuter your pet, at what age, and with what technique is a very personal decision that is based on your pet’s breed, temperament, personality, and your commitment to training, lifestyle management, and responsible pet ownership. – Dr. Karen Becker

Ready to make the decision? Or still unsure? Contact me if you still have questions regarding spay and neuter.

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4 Simple Steps to Make Natural Calcium Supplement

Calcium is one of the most important minerals to maintain your pet’s health, especially in young pets, pregnant and nursing mothers. A lack of calcium results in weak bones and teeth, bone deformities, weak joints and in a severe case called hypocalcemia, it causes disorientation, muscle twitch, tremors and sometimes seizures. Notable pet behavior of this condition is licking cement, concrete and brick.

Depending on what kind of diet you feed your pets with, the total calcium in their diet may not be enough. Thus calcium supplement is needed, but buying a commercial calcium supplement can be expensive sometimes and they may be loaded with chemicals and preservatives. The good news is, you can make simple calcium supplement for your pet (and for yourself too) from only egg shells in a few simple steps.

What you need
  • 30-60 egg shells (depends on how much supplement you want to make)
  • saucepan
  • oven (optional)
  • rolling pin/food processor/coffee grinder
  • air tight container
What to do

Collect egg shells and keep them in the fridge until you have enough of them. An easier and faster alternative is to get egg shells from your neighboring restaurants. Talk to the manager nicely and you may collect the shells for free! Once you have enough egg shells, here are the simple steps you have to do: 1. Soak egg shells in water and wash from any dirt, dust and egg white. Removing the inner layer of the egg is not necessary because it has nutrition and minerals too.

Tips: crush the egg shells into smaller pieces to save the amount of water needed.

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2. Boil egg shells for at least 10 minutes to kill pathogen microorganisms.

Tips: Clean the egg white completely in step 1 to avoid foam formed during this step. If that happens, don’t worry, simply remove the foam.

calcium egg shell (03)

3. Drain and dry the shells. If you have oven, you can bake them to remove the moisture completely. The next step is easier to do with less moisture.

Tips: Lay them on moisture absorbent material, such as sponge or newspaper for faster drying process.

eggshell calcium4

4. Grind the dried shells finely into tiny pieces, grains, or powder. Coffee grinder works best for this purpose, but not necessary. I currently don’t have any fancy kitchen appliance so in this process only mortar and pestle were used. If you don’t have fancy equipment, simply use glass or rolling pin to grind. calcium egg shell (06) Done! Store in an air tight container. Add some silica gel packets if necessary to keep it dry. One teaspoon of the powder contains 800 mg calcium in average. To find out how much calcium your pets need, please check with your vet for advice.

calcium egg shell (07)

Directions: Mix the calcium powder with your pet’s food. Note that calcium is not water soluble and mixing them with water will make them sink to the bottom.

Recommended dosage is 1/2 teaspoon per 10 kg body weight, twice a week. This dosage may vary due to different body weight, calcium necessity and calcium intake from other food source (growing, pregnant and nursing animals or animals with calcium deficiency need more calcium than animals in normal condition). If you are not sure, you can always contact me for free consultation.

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6 Pet Food Ingredients That Can Increase Your Vet Bills

Have you ever imagined how much chemical your pets eat every day? Did you know bad diet can cause serious health diseases in your pets? But how bad is ‘bad’? And how do you know whether your pet food is good or bad?

Here are 6 highly unhealthy ingredients that shouldn’t be in your pet food:
  1. Artificial coloring. I’m 101% sure your pets don’t care what color their food is. This is an unnecessary chemical substance in your pet food used to attract pet owners.
  2. Ethoxyquin, BHT, BHA, TBHQ, nitrite, nitrate, and other chemical preservatives. These chemical substances are potential carcinogenic, i.e can cause cancer. Beware, we can find these chemicals in human food too, such as sausages, salami, crackers, cheese, and other processed food.
  3. Propylene glycol (PG). In convenient pet food, propylene glycol (PG) is used as sweetener, but it is also used in human cosmetics and skin care. The good news is, studies on dogs and rats, which were fed doses of PG ranging from two to five grams per kg of body weight per day, showed no links to cancer. Though cancer might not be a concern, it was also found that PG provoked allergic reactions in patients with eczema and other skin allergies, even in formulations of much less than 50%.
  4. Sugar. It is used as sweetener and flavor enhancer in convenient pet food. Needless to say, sugar is high in carbohydrate, can cause obesity and other health problems. Sugar intake causes ‘sugar rush’ which gives fake full feeling for a moment, but makes the consumer even more hungry when the effect is gone. This causes increased appetite and higher food intake which eventually leads to obesity. This rule applies for both human and animal. Reducing the amount of food is not the solution, but changing the convenient pet food into a healthier diet is highly recommended.
  5. Corn/corn syrup/corn meal. These play the same role as sugar and contain similar high carbohydrate amount. Worse, most corn are now genetically modified organism (GMO) which, based on scientific research, is carcinogenic.
  6. Meat bone meal (MBM) and animal fat. Meat bone meal is not bad as long as it comes from healthy live animals, but most of MBM comes from slaughterhouse material, restaurant and supermarket refuse, dead stock, road kill, and euthanized companion animals which are dumped into huge containers. A machine slowly grinds the entire mess, chips or shreds it, cooks at temperatures between 220 and 270 degrees F (104.4 to 132.2 degrees C.) for 20-60 minutes. The grease, which is removed from the mixture, is the source of animal fat in most pet foods. The remaining material is then put into a press where the moisture is squeezed out. We now have meat bone meal and animal fat.

What about “by product“? Why is it not in the list?

By product is “any product that is derived from, but less in value than another product from the same source.”

When we are talking about animal by product, it’s whatever is left from slaughtered animal that is not edible for human consumption. It includes head, brain, liver, lungs, heart, spleen, kidney, digestive tract (esophagus, stomach, intestine), gizzard, feet, skin, blood, undeveloped egg, and so on.

It depends on pet owners opinion whether it is OK to feed their pets with by products. In the wild, wild dogs and wild cats eat all the meat and the organs of their preys. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with feeding by product to your pets. By product is not always bad and can be nutritious. To the contrary, meat is not always good because it can cause allergic reaction in some individuals. It is undeniable though, that most by products contain parasite, let’s say intestinal worms, liver flukes, and lung flukes. Recently rumor says that rotten meat and other inedible meat are also considered as by product. It’s not wrong to feed your pet with by product ONLY if you know where it comes from. Otherwise, please avoid buying pet food which uses by product as its ingredients.

So do you still think convenient pet food sold at supermarket are good for your pet? It may be convenient and easy for the owners, but it can shorten your pets’ lives and increase your vet bills. If you want to give a better and healthier food for your pets, stay tune and I will post some DIY recipes of how to make healthy and natural dog food and cat food for your furry kids. Coming soon.