“New SA Puppy Desexing Laws Will Hurt Dog Welfare,” Says Vet
“Mandatory new puppy desexing laws set for release in South Australia will hurt dog welfare and the hip pockets of owners,” warns veterinary expert Dr. Meg Howe.
“The behavioral and health consequences of early puppy desexing will mean higher veterinary expenses and diminished owner satisfaction with their dogs - known triggers for having dogs put down or surrendered to shelters – and the opposite of what the legislation was trying to achieve.”
In an attempt to stem the production of unwanted dogs that are put down each year, the sterilisation of puppies prior to sale will soon be compulsory in South Australia.
“I am sure the government, RSPCA and other welfare groups involved had the best of intentions,” said Dr. Meg Howe, “However, desexing of young puppies puts them at risk of a range of serious health and behavioral issues.”
“Concerns raised by the Australian Veterinary Association point to the dangers of infection and anesthesia posed by surgery at such a tender age, but this barely scratches the surface of the negative consequences dogs and their owners are likely to face,” Dr. Howe stated.
“For a start, desexing delays adoption so puppies miss out on social enrichment during a critical developmental period, weakening the bond with their owners,” said Dr. Howe. “The trauma of this surgery also coincides with a fear imprinting period that could set puppies up for lifelong phobias triggered by associated events such as going to the veterinarian, being handled, meeting new people, and car rides.”
Dr Howe also warned of health issues associated with the practice. “Dogs that don’t have normal sex hormone levels through puberty have been shown to also be at higher risk of many cancers,” she said. “So, for example, we are three to four times more likely to see malignant bone cancer in big dogs who were desexed as young puppies than those that weren’t.”
“Further, early desexing of puppies ups the likelihood of orthopaedic disease as it causes overgrowth of the long bones of the legs,” she said, “Such dogs have a 70% greater risk of hip dysplasia and double the risk of cruciate ligament rupture.”
Dr. Howe concluded: “These behavioral and health consequences of early puppy desexing will mean higher veterinary expenses and diminished owner satisfaction with their dogs - known triggers for having dogs put down or surrendered to shelters – and precisely the opposite of what the legislation was trying to achieve.”
Dr. Howe is a veterinarian, dog breeder, and expert on the relationship between dogs and people. Her full article on the dangers of early puppy desexing is available here.
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- Veterinary expert on the relationship between dogs and people.
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