Posts Tagged ‘spay and neuter’

Way to Go AVMA!

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

The Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently approved the content of the following brand new, hot-off-the-press pet ownership guidelines. Have a look and see what you think.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Sherman

Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership

Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations.

Responsible pet ownership includes:

• Committing to the relationship for the life of the pet(s).

• Avoiding impulsive decisions about obtaining pet(s), and carefully selecting pet(s) suited to your home and lifestyle.

• Recognizing that ownership of pet(s) requires an investment of time and money.

• Keeping only the type and number of pets for which an appropriate and safe environment can be provided, including adequate and appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.

• Ensuring pets are properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and that registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date.

•Adherence to local ordinances, including licensing and leash requirements.

• Controlling pet(s) reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter, thereby helping to address animal control and overpopulation problems.

• Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

• Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of the pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, its veterinarian.

• Socialization and appropriate training for pet(s), which facilitates their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.

• Preventing pet(s) from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment, including proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pet(s) to stray or become feral.

• Providing exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to the pet(s)’ age, breed, and health status.

• Advance preparation to ensure the pet(s)’ well-being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.

• Making alternative arrangements if caring for the pet is no longer possible.

• Recognizing declines in the pet(s) quality of life and making decisions in consultation with a veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care (e.g., palliative care, hospice, euthanasia).

“AMEN!” is my response to these guidelines and kudos to the AVMA for issuing them forth to the public. Now, if only they were rules rather than mere guidelines! With all due respect to the AVMA, I would add one more item to their guidelines as a means of working towards the extinction of puppy mills. That item would be, “Never, ever purchase a puppy from a pet store or online site and sight unseen.”

What do you think of these AVMA guidelines for responsible pet ownership? Do you have any suggested additions for the AVMA to consider?

Best wishes for a happy new year,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at,, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.


How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Cancer?

Monday, September 7th, 2009

When it comes to a cancer diagnosis, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How did my dog get this?” It’s only natural that people want to know what they could have done to prevent this dreadful diagnosis.  

Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly rare that I am able to provide a clear-cut answer. Yes, we know that cigarette smoke, asbestos, sun exposure, and some pesticides and lawn herbicides can be carcinogenic in dogs. We also know that female hormones influence the development of mammary tumors (breast cancer). In most cases of canine cancer, however, there is no discernible cause. 

Genetics clearly play a role in the development of some cancers. Giant dog breeds (heavier than 75 pounds) are predisposed to bone cancer. We certainly see an inherited predisposition to cancer in particular breeds, including Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Boston Terriers, English Bulldogs, Scottish Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels. 

So what can you do to prevent cancer in your four-legged best friend? Here are some suggestions (I truly hope this list becomes longer as our knowledge about cancer increases): 

Avoid exposure to known carcinogens (cancer causing substances) such as cigarette smoke, asbestos, and lawn herbicides. 

If your dog has little or no pigment on his face or underside, avoid letting him sunbathe during daylight hours when the sun is most intense. 

Talk to your veterinarian about when your dog should be spayed or castrated. Neutering prevents testicular, ovarian, and uterine cancer. Neutering female dogs before their first heat eliminates the risk of developing breast cancer, and when performed before two years of age the risk is markedly reduced.  Some data suggests that postponing neutering until a year or more of age in large breed dogs may be protective against bone cancer. More studies looking at this relationship are needed. 

Before adopting a purebred dog from the list of breeds mentioned above, do the research needed to confirm that parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were cancer free. I recently had the heartbreaking experience of working with two Bernese Mountain Dog littermates who lost the battle to a type of cancer called malignant histiocytosis. Three of their other four siblings had already succumbed to the same disease. 

Have your dog thoroughly examined by your veterinarian at least once a year. Just as with us, the earlier the detection of a cancerous process, the better the chances are for successfully treating the disease. 

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

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Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross