Many things changed this year, the way we work, how we socialise and our ability to travel. For veterinary clinics, the "Covid Puppy" has created a large influx of new pet owners and new puppies, with all the questions that entails. I hope to cover why we desex, when should we desex and whether its truly necessary. Click here for the Short Answer
What is desexing
Desexing is a medical procedure which we perform on male and female pets that remove the ability of that pet to reproduce. There are a number of different ways this has been performed historically but now the accepted method of female dogs and cats is :
- Female Pets
- Ovariohysterectomy - which involves the removal of both ovaries and the uterus to the level of the cervix. In general the cervix is not removed. In Europe Ovariectomy is actually more common which leaves the uterus intact.
- Male Pets
- Castration - which involves the remove of both testicles, the epididymis and a small length of vas deferens and associated vasculature.
This is performed under general anaesthesia.
Why do we desex?
The obvious answer here is we don't want puppies or kittens, but there are other reasons to consider.
Intact male dogs and to a lessor extent female dogs - when they are "in season" have a basic physiological drive to reproduce. This leads them to do some pretty silly stuff - jump fences, run across busy roads, get into fights. ( I will point out humans are no different - just head into the city on any Saturday night). This behaviours have a significant risk factor for death or severe injury.
There are certain diseases which I don't think there is any doubt that desexing removes or drops that risk to zero.
- Testicular Cancer - you cant get it if you don't have them - same goes for Ovarian Cancer in female dogs.
- Mammary Cancer - ie Breast Cancer - there was a study done comparing dogs in the UK and dogs in Sweden. The study from Sweden looked at causes of mortality in 80,000 dogs and found that their population had an incidence rate 7.7 times higher than the incidence rate of female dogs in the UK.
- Pyometra ( Uterus Infection ) - A study of approximately 200,000 Swedish dogs (a country with a low overall sterilization rate) reported an overall incidence of pyometra at 2%, and also found that approximately 24% of female dogs experienced pyometra by 10 years of age. The incidence in desexed dogs is 0%.
- Prostate Disease -Benign prostatic hypertrophy-hyperplasia is a common disorder in sexually intact male dogs. 95-100% of entire male dogs will have prostatic enlargement once they reach 9 years of age. In addition, BPH predisposes dogs to prostatitis. Neither BPH nor prostatitis is commonly associated with substantial morbidity, and castration is an integral part of the treatment of both conditions.
When should my Pet be desexed
- If you are looking to avoid behaviour problems and keep your life simple - 5-6 mths of age.
- If you want to ensure your pets full development potential 12 mths + of age.
There are benefits to each of these view points such that nether is wrong but if you are looking for a more in depth answer read on.
Historically desexing became common about 50 years ago - when it was recognised that a large number of unwanted and stray dogs where causing problems around large cities. At that time the recommendation was to perform the procedure at or around 6 months of age. A number of factors weighed into this timing but by far the most overwhelming was that female dogs will generally experience a season before 7 months of age. Female dogs are entirely capable of falling pregnant on this first cycle so the view was desex before this could happen as far as male dogs went - they got dragged along for the ride.
In the 90's, pet ownership and the stray dog problem persisted and Animal Protection Societies became involved in the care of many puppies and kittens. The policies at this time lead to a push to introduce early age desexing - where the procedure was performed as young as 8 weeks of age. People felt it was more important the get the pets desexed that rely on owner's returning an older pet and desex them later. Smaller animals were also easier to manage in terms of size and also the inherent costs involved where lower.
Moving into the 21 century, new ideas emerged that became more focused on what was best for the individual dog, we had more data from the previous 50 year which we could uses to gauge the positives and negatives of our various choices. Now some vets are recommending a late age desexing - which allows the pet to mature with its natural hormone balance intact.
In summary there is not a straight forward answer or a 1 size fits all solution. Different people have different goals and targets.
Where are we now?
We now understand the puppies and kittens have a lot of development to do after they are born, various organs mature at different speeds. The skeletal and muscular growth can take as long as 2 years in large breed dogs and as short as 8mths in small breed dogs. Kidneys also mature at a different rate - kidney maturity we think is pretty much complete at about 200 days of age thats about 6.5mths. The majority is completed in the first 4 months - you can see this as your pets toilet training pretty much improves dramatically at this age. They can hold it for the night! The same applies to the liver development - while no specific animal studies could be found. In humans, full maturity can take up to 2 years following birth. Given this knowledge, the advice has to be that we should try and avoid anaesthesia until these vital organs are mature.
Your vet will probably suggest a blood test prior to anaesthesia to confirm healthy and optimal function of these organs at bare minimum its important to realize the test doesn't tell you they are fully mature only that they are not diseased.
The previously mentioned disease risks means we should still desex but perhaps we need to show more consideration for age.
For Male Dogs - these guys can probably wait until 12 months of age - this will allow a stronger skeletal structure and more robust physical appearance - for the larger breeds - it may also reduce the incidence of bone cancer.
Fore female dogs - I would probably desex them at 5-6 mths of age - dealing with a dog on heat is often a lot to handle in a busy family with an inside dog - but you are welcome to delay until around 10 months of age - after the first season. This may reduce the risk of incontinence later in life. However the risk of mammary cancer is still higher after even 1 season.
I will categorically say I don't believe in early age desexing - I see no benefit to the individual dog or the dog's life long owner.
Spay or Spey
The correct term is spay and it means to remove the ovaries and uterus in a female dog. That being said as with all language the alternative spelling spey does get used here in Australia. You wont find either term common to the lay person in the USA.
Egenvall A, Bonnett BN, Öhagen P, Olson P, Hedhammar Å, Von Euler H. Incidence of and survival after mammary tumors in a population of over 80,000 insured female dogs in Sweden from 1995 to 2002. Prev Vet Med. 2005;69(1–2):109–127.
Beath SV. Hepatic function and physiology in the newborn. Semin Neonatol. 2003 Oct;8(5):337-46. doi: 10.1016/S1084-2756(03)00066-6. PMID: 15001122.
Dorfman M, Barsanti J. Diseases of the canine prostate gland. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet 1995;17:791–810. [Google Scholar]
Johnston SD, Root Kustritz MV, Olson PN. Disorders of the canine prostate. In: Johnston SD, Root Kustritz MV, Olson PN, eds. Canine and feline theriogenology. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Co, 2001;340. [Google Scholar]
Are there any good home-made diets for cancer patients?
I have used a variety of home-prepared and commercial diets for my cancer patients. Based on Ogilvie’s work using low carbohydrate, moderate fat and moderate protein diets for lymphoma patients, we have used homemade diets that reduce carbohydrates while providing quality protein, presumably appropriate fat and fatty acid profiles, and high levels of nutrient rich vegetables.
Rule number one is to KEEP THEM EATING, so we don’t stand on principle if our patients dislike our cooking. On the other hand, the majority of canine and feline patients appear to improve in general condition after becoming acclimated to the diet below, and we assume that their general improvement bodes well for the course of their disease, at least to optimize survival times.
Guidelines for cooking for canine cancer patients:
50% fish or poultry (organic preferred but not necessary)
50% mixed frozen or fresh vegetables
Flax or olive oil as a source of fat calories – about 1 teaspoon per 10kg of body weight
A HUMAN daily vitamin-mineral supplement (one dose for animals over 10kg, ½ dose for animals under10 kg) Alternatively consider Vetlicious
A calcium carbonate source – about 250 mg per 7.5kg of body weight ( many simple acid reflux treatments are plain Calcium Carbonate)
Many people use a crock-pot to stew all ingredients together. Some prefer to steam the vegetables, add the cooked meat, and throw everything into a food mill so that it looks like commercial canned food. Raw meat is never recommended for animals undergoing chemotherapy or who are immune suppressed in any way. This recipe is NOT balanced – the patient and the recipe should be re-evaluated frequently in order to adjust the recipe according to the animal’s weight, disease progression, and other changes in condition.
Fish Oil (salmon or menhaden body oil) appears to have antiproliferative activity in some tumor cell lines, antimetastatic activity in laboratory animals, and anti-cachectic activity in human patients.11,12 The benefits for patients with cancer are linked with the ability to attenuate systemic inflammation.13 It is frequently recommended for canine and feline cancer patients at a rate of 1 extra strength capsule (500-600 mg of DHA and EPA) per 5-10kg of body weight. Preliminary findings suggest fish oil supplementation increases chemotherapy efficacy, improves survival, and helps to maintain weight and muscle mass in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).7,8 An EPA-enriched oral supplement improved tolerability of chemotherapy in patients with advanced colorectal cancer and when combined with chemotherapy, fish oil supplementation may delay tumor progression in patients with colorectal cancer.9 Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to have anticoagulant effects, however, results from clinical studies are mixed.
Kalinga Park has a Omega supplement available.
Turmeric has been shown to be anti- angiogenic, induces apoptosis and is anti-inflammatory. The dose
for dogs is one teaspoon per 25kg daily. The dose for cats when they will accept it is 1⁄4 teaspoon twice
daily. It is has been shown to be of more benefit when combined with black pepper and oil (golden
paste). (Credit Steve Denley – Balanced Veterinary Care)
1 cup water, ½ cup organic turmeric powder, ¼ cup coconut oil or bone broth, ½ tablespoon organic ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon Ceylon cinnamon. Simmer turmeric and water over low heat, stirring for 7 to 8 minutes until it forms a paste. Remove from heat and add oil or bone broth, pepper, and cinnamon. Feed 1 teaspoon/20 lb twice daily.
The green tea polyphenol, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has been shown to have anti-angiogenic and antiproliferative properties in addition to preventing cancers. One recent in vitro study even suggested that EGCG reversed p-glycoprotein mediated multiple drug resistance.16 In human clinical trials, 200mg daily of EGCG led to benefits, while up to 800mg daily was tolerated. I would suggest scaling the dose down by weight, and using the extract instead of dried green tea leaves, as the dose of the dried herb may affect patient appetite if provided in food. So aim for the low end using a powder.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a plant originally native to Southern Europe to Asia, but now found throughout the world. Silymarin, which is derived from the seed, pod, or fruit of the milk thistle plant, is primarily used to manage liver disease, but additional studies suggest antioxidant and anticancer effects. Found in veterinary products such as Denamarin and Denosyl (Nutramax Laboratorites), this synthetic formulation has been shown to delay to onset of chemotherapy-induced hepatotoxicity in patients receiving lomustine chemotherapy.3
Silibinin, one of the flavonoids, demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting release of hydrogen peroxide and production of tumor necrosis factor alpha.4 Other studies indicate the flavonoids in milk thistle exert anticancer effects by arresting G1 and S phases of the cell cycle.5 Generally well tolerated and considered safe in combination with most medications, there are limited concerns for combination with chemo-radiation therapy. We have a product called Denosyl that would help here.
The flowers, leaves and stems of the Cannabis sativa plant have been used in herbal remedies for centuries as well as in more modern culture recreationally and therapeutically. Scientists have identified many biologically active components in cannabis, with the two best-studied components being delta-9-
At this time, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists cannabis and its cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substances. This means that they cannot legally be prescribed, possessed, or sold under federal law. The use of cannabis to treat some medical conditions is legal under state laws in many states for licensed physicians, however, veterinarians are not included in these regulations. Dronabinol, a pharmaceutical form of THC, and a man-made cannabinoid drugs are approved by the FDA to treat cancer treatment-related conditions.
Studies conducted in the 1970s found that dogs have the highest number of THC receptors in their brains, more than any other animal studied, including humans. For this reason, dogs are very sensitive to cannabis products that contain THC, and pet guardians need to be very careful about giving THC to their dogs, so as to not create this adverse neurologic reaction. Very low THC cannabis, also known as “hemp” does not contain enough THC to create these adverse reactions. They are a better bet for pets, due to their increased safety. Some experts believe that THC is important to give along with CBD to address certain difficult to treat conditions such as cancer. With further research we will learn more about whether this is true. Hemp-based CBD extracts have been anecdotally reported to help dogs with epilepsy. For treating cancer, it is still unknown whether CBDs can work effectively as a single therapy without THC or other anti-cancer drugs. At this time, there are no published reports utilizing cannabis for pets with cancer.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol D3) has been examined for its benefits as a preventive agent and as a treatment for many types of cancer. In animal models, dietary vitamin D3 demonstrates chemopreventive effects against breast cancer equivalent to those elicited by calcitriol without causing hypercalcemia.19 The anticancer effect of vitamin D is thought to be due to induction of cell differentiation and antiproliferation. A positive feedback signaling loop between the serine-protein kinase ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and the VDR was identified as critical for cancer chemoprevention by vitamin D.
In a 2016 veterinary study, low serum vitamin D3 levels were shown to be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer in canine patients.20 The optimal serum vitamin D3 level was determined to be 100–120 ng/mL based on iPTH and c-CRP variations plateauing at this level. In the author’s practice, serum vitamin D3 levels are routinely monitored and supplementation with oral vitamin D3 initiated with a target range of 100–120 ng/mL, although higher serum concentrations have been maintained in individual patients with no accompanying hypercalcemia to date. A current clinical trial is underway investigating oral Vitamin D supplementation as part of a muti-herb treatment regimen for dogs with hemangiosarcoma.
Melatonin can kill directly many different types of human tumour cells. It is a naturally produced cytotoxin, which can induce tumour cell death. Reports of therapeutic doses have been variable. Pets recently diagnosed with slow-growing or early-stage cancer may wish to consider supplementing with 2mg melatonin nightly. Late stage patients may benefit with higher doses. Dose for large dogs is 10mg twice daily but could go up to 1mg/kg twice daily. High dose melatonin is contraindicated in diabetes patients. Studies have been
quite promising for mammary cancer. Credit Steve Denley – Balanced Vet Care
I recommend NOW brand melatonin from au.iherb.com (
Canine Energy Requirements
|WT (kg)||RER (kcal)||MER(kcal)|
Protein kcalorie Contents (Source FDA)
|Protein Source||kcal / 100gm|
Spring is here and with it comes an unwanted pest for dogs and cats – the [wiki title=”Ixodes_holocyclus”]Paralysis Tick.[/wiki]
New ticks hatch at this time of the year and are particularly toxic to dogs and cats. Many native animals have developed a resistance to the ticks poison, including their natural host the bandicoot, but unfortunately, most dogs and cats are badly affected if a tick attaches to them. The paralysis tick injects a poison into the system which progressively paralyses the host animal. Early signs of tick paralysis include vomiting, a change of bark and faster breathing. This quickly progresses to hind and forelimb paralysis and finally death.
Traditionally we have very few ticks in the Kalinga / Wooloowin and Wavell Heights areas but this year seems to be a bit different. There seem to be a lot more ticks around. It is early spring we are finding ticks on dogs on a regular basis and have had several cases of paralysis. Perhaps all the rain we had last summer has created more favourable conditions. Similarly, you don’t have to travel too far from this area for ticks to be seen – notably the Sunshine Coast, a popular weekend and holiday destination. Every spring and summer we have animals in the hospital with tick paralysis – the result of dogs picking up ticks further afield and bringing them home.
If you are taking your dog into tick areas we recommend the following precautions:
Best Practice for tick prevention
Daily Searching – Ticks are usually found from the shoulders forward in areas including the head, neck, face and forelimbs.
- Remove the tick using a firm pull. Grip the tick at the base of the head using tweezers or tick remover.
- You can treat the tick with an insecticide (use a flea or tick rinse labelled for your pet) prior to removal if you’re unsure.
- Do not delay in removal – proceed to the vet to have the tick removed if you cannot do it yourself.
- Clean the site well using fresh water and possibly some correctly labelled disinfectant.
Bravecto – is the newest preventative control available. It comes in the form of an oral chew. Bravecto will last 3mths against Paralysis tick.
Coming Soon!!! Bravecto Spot On – this form of control will last up to 6mths – please contact us to find out more…
Advantix Spot On for dogs – Advantix needs to be applied fortnightly to prevent ticks
Frontline Top Spot and Spray – will also kill ticks for up to 2 weeks. Should be applied at least 2 days before entering an infested area. This is a popular and easy treatment.
Tick Collars – (similar to flea collars, but with a different active ingredient) are increasing in popularity and will kill ticks for up to a 3 month. Certain tick collars have different requirements and must be used correctly to work. Please contact us on 3357 1588 to discuss which collars would be most effective and how they need to be used.
Bathing – using an insecticidal rinse that kills ticks is a popular additional treatment.
Pets, on average, age five to eight times faster than humans. By age two, most pets have already reached adulthood. At age four, many are entering middle age, and beginning around age seven, your pet enters his or her senior years.
Because pets age so rapidly, major health changes can occur in a short amount of time. The risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other serious conditions all increase with age.
Annual health checks can help us diagnose, treat or even prevent problems before they become life-threatening. They’re also a great opportunity to ask us about nutrition, behaviour or any other issues.
Identify your pets real age using the charts below then call us today to book a health check for your pet.
How old is your pet in people years?
Heartworm disease is a [wiki base=”EN”]mosquito[/wiki]-transmitted disease that affects thousands of dogs each year. Heartworm disease in dogs is quite common in most Australian states but the further north you travel the more prevalent the disease becomes. It is usual for dogs not on preventative treatments to become infected by heartworm during their lifespan.
After injection by a mosquito, adult worms eventually start to grow inside a dogs heart and lungs, causing very serious damage. Due to their large size, they become a major barrier to the free passage of blood through the heart and eventually this causes the heart to enlarge and weaken.
Most dog owners do not realise their pet has a problem until the disease is well advanced. It is only in the later stages, when the disease is difficult to treat, that the animals manifest the typical signs of advanced heartworm disease, such as a deep cough, weight loss, listlessness and weakness. Other symptoms may include a lack of appetite, shortness of breath and blood in the urine.
While heartworm is an extremely difficult disease to treat, it is very simple to prevent.
There are several choices:
- Monthly heartworm medications are very popular and come in the form of either a tablet (chewable or regular) or a spot on preparation that is absorbed through the skin. Some monthly heartworm medications will include other active ingredients that also control worms and fleas. All monthly preparations are 100% effective providing the correct dose is given for the dogs’ weight and that it is given monthly without missing any treatments for the dog’s entire life. Remember there can be mosquitos all year round.
- An attractive alternative to monthly heartworm medications has been the advent of the yearly heartworm injection. This eases the burden of remembering monthly medications and is now extremely popular, safe and also 100% effective. It is best staged with your dogs annual vaccinations and can be started as early as 3 months of age although due to the rapid growth of puppies an extra injection is given at 6 months of age.
For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. If we don’t we risk not only having bad breath but also plaque build-up and gum disease. Just like you, your pet needs dental care too.
Teeth and gum problems are some of the most common conditions we see in dogs and cats with over 80% of animals over 4 years of age affected to some degree. The severity of gum disease is dependent not only on age but also on diet and breed with small dogs and cats being more commonly affected.
Just as importantly it has been shown that poor dental health can increase the incidence of heart, liver, and kidney disease, and that good dental health can add up to 4 years of life to your pet.
At Kalinga Park Vet Surgery we provide the highest standard of dental care available for your pet. Under general anaesthetic, your pet’s teeth and gums will be examined and the tartar removed using an ultrasonic scaler similar to what your dentist uses. All teeth are individually assessed for health and longevity and finally polished to have them looking their sparkling best.
After your pet’s procedure will discuss a preventative home dental care program for your pet. We stock a number of convenient prescription diets aimed at preventing tartar re-occurrence as well as other dental care products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, specialised chew treats and mouth sprays.
So if you would like to say goodbye to bad breath for your pet and have their teeth bright and white again call the clinic for a dental check-up for your pet.
Thousands of pets are destroyed each year simply because they lack identification. This is why we recommend microchipping as part of our preventative healthcare campaign for all pets… and word is spreading fast.
Under Queensland laws microchipping is compulsory. Puppies are required to be microchipped prior to sale, however, pets can be microchipped at any age.
A Microchip is a tiny identity chip about the size of a grain of rice. A 15 digit unique number is encoded on the microchips. It is injected under the skin of your pet and stays there for life as a permanent form of identification. Good quality microchips are constructed with medical grade glass usually with an anti-migration coating. The microchip can be read by passing a scanner over the skin and once it is placed cannot be lost, removed or altered for the life of your pet.
It is also possible to implant chips that have other functions such as measuring your pet’s body temperature. As we get smaller technology the range of functions available will increase! If you have your pet implanted you should ensure the chip comes from a quality manufacturer, not a cheap import.
The staff will microchip your pet and register it on a national database called the Global Micro Database. Staff at the RSPCA and pounds will scan all lost pets. When we find an existing chip we cross-check it on the database ensuring a quick call and a happy reunion.
Caring for the family pet involves a lot more than just fresh food and water each day. Remember the adage“Prevention is better than cure?” ….. well, that especially applies to animals in the form of vaccinations.
Vaccinations protect our pets against a number of incurable and often fatal diseases such as Parvovirus and Distemper in dogs and Feline Enteritis and Cat Flu in cats. These viral diseases don’t respond well to medications and treatment is difficult, expensive and often unsuccessful.