The recommended age of desexing for your dog will be discussed on an individual basis.
As strong supporters of dog rescue and adoption, we recommend desexing of all pet dogs to prevent overpopulation. In addition to pregnancy prevention, desexing has been shown to have an abundance of health-related benefits. These include reduced risk of unwanted behaviours, as well as reduced risk of reproductive, urinary and some cancer-related illnesses.
A good example of this is the reduced incidence of breast cancers in female dogs that are desexed early in life. Research has shown that if a female dog is desexed prior to her first season, she has less than a 0.05% chance of developing breast cancers later in life. In the same studies, the risk of malignant breast tumours increased with each reproductive cycle, approaching 50% in female dogs left undesexed.
At Townsend Veterinary Clinic, we will discuss the ideal time of desexing for your dog, which is generally 5-6 months for small to medium breeds. However, if your dog is a large or giant breed, we will need a more in-depth discussion given recent changes to the desexing guidelines. In some cases we will recommend delaying desexing until 12-18 months old, taking into account the overall risk for orthopaedic conditions, urinary conditions, mammary tumours and the complexity of the procedure in a larger dog. This will all be discussed in your pets' routine health check.
Please ask us for a copy of our 'timing of desexing' handout which aims to clarify some of the confusion surrounding the best time to desex your dog.
Owners of large and giant breed dogs, particularly deep chested dogs like Great Danes, Dobermans, Weimeraners, Rottweilers and Irish Setters, should be aware of the risk of a condition called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) in these breeds. This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach bloats and rotates. If you own a large, deep chested breed, ask our vets to discuss the risk factors and preventative measures with you during your routine health checks. It is recommended that these breeds have a prophylactic procedure performed at the same time as their desexing procedure, called a gastropexy.
The medical term for 'bloat' is Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV). The stomach typically enlarges due to food, liquid, and gas becoming entrapped within the stomach (Dilatation), followed by twisting of the stomach (Volvulus). The condition is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate stabilisation and surgery. Symptoms include signs of discomfort and distress, a firm/tense abdomen, unproductive attempts to vomit ("retching"), hypersalivation, weakness and collapse.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating about GDV, so we will try and clear up the confusion. There are many different factors that are associated with an increased risk for GDV, however the following factors have been proven to be the MOST significant:
• Having a first-degree relative that has had GDV
• Large breed
• Increasing age
• Stressful events
• Fearful or nervous temperament
• One-meal daily / large volume of food per meal
• Eating rapidly
• Feeding from an elevated position
The overall incidence of the disease in large and giant breed dogs is about 6%. It's important to note that certain breeds including the Great Dane has a lifetime incidence of approximately 42%. There is a surgical option available which is designed to prevent twisting of the stomach by anchoring it to the side of the abdomen. This procedure is called a gastropexy. We are happy to discuss what is involved with this procedure and whether it is the right choice for your dog, as well as answer any other general questions you might have about GDV.