Pet Talk

| October 1, 2013

Dr Ann Chauvet

Dr. Chauvet earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon,Canada,and is known internationally for her specialized work in the relatively rare field of veterinary neurology speaking to, training, and consulting with veterinary practices and organizations globally.

Q: I just got a female puppy and everyone is telling me I should spay her before she’s six months old. Why? What are the benefits of spaying?

A: The population of dogs and cats in our nation and the world is increasing despite the worldwide spay and neuter programs. The math is simple: most dogs have around 2-12 puppies per litter and can have one or two litters a year. Spaying/neutering helps to avoid unwanted pregnancies and contributes to a decrease in the animal shelter population. On the other hand, the hormones are beneficial for growth and healthy development of bones and joints. So when do we spay? Bitches (female dogs) have their first heat cycle at about six-months-old. It is proven over and over again, that the risk of breast/mammary cancer increases substantially after the first heat. Thus, we advise spaying and neutering before the female reaches six months of age. By doing so, we significantly lower the cancer risk rate and also eliminate an unwanted pregnancy.  Recently, spaying and neutering has been advised in animals about eight-weeks-old or so. I personally do not feel it is healthy for the body to do this procedure so soon. I also think anesthetic risk factors are higher in such young animals. But, if the animal is a feral cat or dog, this may be the only chance you get to control the population and this is why this program is in place.  Some people worry that sterilization leads to a weight gain. Although neutering/spaying tends to contribute to a more sedentary lifestyle, sterilization by itself is not the culprit; diet is. Healthy diet and exercise will keep your pet at a healthy weight.

Q: How do I identify seizures in a dog? What is the difference between a seizure and tremors? 

A: A seizure is a full motor contraction of one body part, or the whole body. Sometimes, loss of bowel and urine control accompanies a seizure. The patient may lose partial or full consciousness.  It comes from the brain activity, the cortex more particularly.

Tremors are "vibrations" of the body. They can occur because of weakness (arthritis, back problems, etc.,) fear (vet visits) and other more benign stimulants. Tremor is not as serious as a seizure, but should still be addressed if increases in severity or frequency.

Q: What are the signs seen with Parvovirus infection? Can you treat it?

A: Vomiting and diarrhea, often bloody, are the first signs of parvovirus. Being a virus, you cannot treat it directly. However, this virus just sloughs the lining of the bowel (thus the blood in vomit and feces) and makes the patient very prone to bacterial infection. Along with the shock and blood loss, the patient's life is at risk with parvovirus infection. We treat the blood loss, the fluid loss and the infection with IV fluids and antibiotics. Most patients recover in 24-72 hours, depending on the severity, but it can be fatal. Parvovirus is a very sturdy virus and can survive in the environment for over a year, so make sure you sterilize and clean thoroughly everywhere that pup has been.

Category: Columns

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