It probably won’t happen here in the United States, but it is a reality for citizens of South Australia. Proposed compulsory desexing laws could require cats and dogs to be spayed or neutered at point of sale. The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) says that this could put the health of newborn puppies at risk.
The discussion for the proposed legislation came about after a citizen’s jury found that stronger action needed to be taken to reduce the number of animals that are euthanized in South Australia each year. Puppies are allowed to be legally sold at 7 weeks of age, and the AVA says that is too young for them to undergo a desexing operation.
Dr. Anne Fowler, president of the AVA’s South Australian division, says that the organization is concerned about animals this young going through such an extensive operation and they believe the risk of infection will be higher in these young puppies. She says the largest risk is associated with how neonatal animals will cope with anesthesia. Extreme caution will need to be used to be sure the small animals receive the accurate dosing of drugs.
She also says that the AVA does not believe that dogs and cats should be grouped together under the legislation. Dr. Fowler says that young cats can, and probably, should be desexed before they have the chance to reproduce. Kittens can get pregnant as young as four months old, and that can be traumatizing to the felines developing body.
The current recommendation for dogs to be desexed in South Australia is six months of age. Dr. Fowler says that the operation could be performed sooner, but it would be much safer to do so at four or five months of age rather than just six or eight weeks. She says that deciding on the best time to desex a canine is something that a pet owner should work out with their veterinarian, and it varies depending on the dogs breed and the risks that could occur during the procedure.
The AVA believes that some veterinarians would refuse to spay or neuter puppies if they believe they are too young. Dr. Fowler says that this new legislation has given the organization the opportunity to essentially write a statuary declaration that states that the animal should not be desexed. She says that the AVA supported the government’s intentions to reduce the number of pets that are euthanized, but they feel that this legislation does not maximize animal welfare outcomes.
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I agree with the AVA, I mean they are professionals and experts in the field of veterinary medicine, so I would assume most people would. If veterinary professionals are saying that it is too young and could cause physical problems for the puppies, why would the government continue to push the legislation on? Hopefully they will listen to the AVA and re-write the laws to include separate ages for dogs and cats.
Spaying and neutering pets is such an important topic to educate pet parents about, and there are some great organizations out there that provide free or low cost services for pet owners who can’t afford the surgery. There really is no excuse not to desex your pet, unless of course you are using him or her for breeding purposes. Just be sure to consult with your veterinarian about the best time to have your dog desexed and what the potential risks of the surgery are.