Vets can consider a wider range of options when it comes to neutering cats and dogs. This was the message from veterinary reproduction specialist Angelika von Heimendahl at a recent seminar on reproductive health.

Vets can consider a wider range of options when it comes to neutering cats and dogs. This was the message from veterinary reproduction specialist Angelika von Heimendahl at a recent seminar on reproductive health.

Mrs von Heimendahl, who runs the Cambridge based referral centre Veterinary Reproduction Service said: “Globally the approach to neutering varies hugely. Although neutering is considered as part of responsible pet ownership in the UK and performed routinely in every practice in the country, at the other end of the scale, in Germany and Scandinavia for example, this is considered mutilation and is prohibited by law.

Angelika von Heimendahl“Despite the very low neutering rates in these countries (7% in Norway, compared around 80% in the UK) they do not have a problem with stray dogs, indicating that there are other factors such as education and attitudes to dog ownership that play a major role.

“In other continental countries, bitch spaying is usually by ovariectomy rather than ovariohysterectomy,” she added.

“Some practices are now successfully offering clients a range of options, including medical castration, especially with new reproduction drugs recently introduced onto the market. The non-surgical contraceptive slow-release implant, deslorelin – a GnRH superagonist – lasts for six months, making medical castration a more practical solution for many owners.”

And although off-licence, Mrs Von Heimendahl also suggested that deslorelin can be used in bitches as an alternative to spaying. She said: “While neutering can have advantages in terms of reduced incidence of certain cancers, there are also advantages of retaining both male and female dogs intact.

“Some cancers are less likely to occur in intact animals, for example there is a reduced risk of transitional cell carcinomas, haemangiosarcomas and osteosarcomas. Obesity and its associated problems are also less of an issue, which is a particular benefit for owners where the necessary reduced calorie intake post neutering is difficult to achieve.” 

Chris Taylor, technical director of seminar organiser Virbac, added that medical castration can offer dog owners the opportunity to “test run” neutering of their animal, and pointed out that this is particularly useful for behavioural issues in young male dogs.

He said: “Twice yearly implants offer a practical alternative for clients, whether as a short or longer-term solution. As a solution focussed business, we are constantly striving to put forward a choice of options which can only have benefits for client and practice alike.”

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