| 12.7°C Dublin

Who's the leader of the pack?

Owner: Rebecca Harris, from Co Wicklow

Pets: Two spaniels, Holly and Trudy

Background: The two young dogs started to wander off together

When Rebecca decided that her young family was ready for a family dog, she took on two pups together, with the idea that they would be company for each other as they grew older. The plan worked well at first: her children adored the dogs, and the two of them got on well with each other.

As the pups matured into young adults, the fact that they had fun together began to cause some minor issues. They stopped coming back immediately when called, taking longer to respond, as if they were egging each other on to be mischievous.

HORMONES

AND, OCCASIONALLY, THEY REFUSED TO COME BACK AT ALL. THIS WAS A PARTICULAR WORRY FOR REBECCA: SHE LIVES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE AND EVEN IF THE DOGS ARE JUST RUNNING AROUND ON HER OWN LAND, IF THEY FOUND A GAP IN A FENCE OR ANOTHER WAY OUT OF THEIR OWN AREA, THERE COULD BE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.

AT FIRST, REBECCA FOCUSED ON IMPROVING THEIR TRAINING, WORKING WITH THEM ONE-ON-ONE. THIS WORKED WHEN THEY WERE ON THEIR OWN, BUT THE "PACK" EFFECT MEANT THAT THEY CONTINUED TO BE DISOBEDIENT WHEN THEY WERE RUNNING AROUND AS A PAIR.

The situation came to a head when the two young females came into season together: their wanderlust was super-charged by their hormones, and their wandering became more troublesome than ever. Rebecca decided to have them spayed: she didn't want to have any pups from either of them anyway.

The word "spay" makes the procedure sound short and simple, but it's the most serious surgical operation that most female dogs undergo in their lifetime.

The correct technical term for spaying is "ovario-hysterectomy", involving surgical removal of the uterus and both ovaries. When humans have this done, they are in hospital for up to a week, then at home recuperating for a month or more.

In contrast, dogs usually come home from the vet on the same day, and they are often keen to get back to their daily walks within a week. Pet owners need to control their pets carefully to ensure that they don't overdo things.

Trudy had her operation first, and when she had fully recovered, Holly was brought to our clinic for the surgery. She was given a mild sedative injection when she arrived at 8.30am: this helped her settle down into the strangeness of the clinic environment.

Her operation started at 10am: after a "knock-out" injection into her vein, a plastic tube was passed down her windpipe, and a mix of anaesthetic gases kept her safely anaesthetised for the duration of the operation.

By 11am, she was back in her recovery kennel, with a neat, 4cm long incision on her underside marking the site of the surgery. She was given plenty of pain relief, starting before the operation, and continuing when she was sent home that evening with drops to go into her food.

Some dogs need plastic cone collars to stop them from interfering with their own wounds, but Holly showed no interest in licking or chewing the operation site, so there was no need for this. When her wound was checked five days later, everything was healing perfectly.

DISEASES

Spaying brings many benefits to female dogs: as well as the fact that seasons are permanently stopped, some serious diseases are completely prevented, such as womb infections, and the incidence of others, such as mammary cancer, the most common cancer to affect female dogs, is dramatically reduced.

Will spaying stop Trudy and Holly from trying to escape?

It will certainly help, but Rebecca is having to face up to the fact that even now, one of her two dogs may need to be rehomed: when a pair of dogs have learned the wild pleasures of running together, it can be a tough habit to break.

Visit Pete's website at www.brayvet.com


Privacy