One of the most experienced veterinary specialists in India, Dr SB Mathur is running a successful practice in Lucknow
Q: Should I let my dog have a heat before I get her spayed? -Nirmal Dutt
Medically, it is better to spay your dog before their first heat. It greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumours. Some of the tiny breeds have to be done later. But larger breeds are usually ready by two months of age. People who wait to spay their dogs until after their second heat greatly increase the risk of mammary tumours in their pets. Once they have had several heats, intact female dogs have a one out of four chance of developing mammary tumours. There are still some people who say paediatric spay/neuter is dangerous, but that is not true. It has become much more widely accepted. Those ideas about needing to wait until after a dog is six months or a year old are antiquated and the evidence is to the contrary. The puppies recover a lot faster than adults. It is an easier surgery for them, and it reduces the rate of disease later on. It’s just a much easier procedure on younger animals. But if your dog is healthy, there is no specific age limit to having the procedure done.
Q: I have a Lhasa female. She has had her first cycle and the vet says I should get her crossed once and let her produce a litter before getting her spayed. Why is it important to get her pregnant once? -Nishi Singh
It is a very common misconception that a female dog should have one litter before being spayed (neutered). Not only is it an outdated concept, with no evidence to support that breeding a litter is either physically or psychologically beneficial to a dog. Any concerns over whether a dog will miss being able to have puppies once spayed, or that she will not be fully mature until she has had a litter, are inappropriate and unfounded.
Q: My seven-month-old vaccinated pet Labrador got bitten by an unvaccinated stray dog. The vet gave him a rabies booster shot after six hours. What are the chances of him getting rabies?- Kunal Khatri
If your dog is already vaccinated with the anti-rabies vaccine, you need not worry. Otherwise, follow post-bite vaccination schedule properly. If the post-bite vaccinations are given at the correct time and with the proper vaccine, then there is no need to worry. Your puppy will be safe, even if the attacked dog has rabies. However, if the bite wound is big you may have to use antibiotics to treat the wound.
Q: My female shih tzu is 1 year old and recently started snapping at family members or friends when they get too close to my wife and I. This started two weeks ago and most recently snapped at my 5-year-old nephew and cut his forehead. She`s always been around other people so we don`t understand why all of a sudden, she started behaving this way. - Vivian
First and foremost, consult your veterinarian. This is to rule out any health issues that might be contributing to the behaviour, especially if it’s a sudden onset. Sometimes discomfort or pain can lead to defensive reactions. Here is a list of other methods you could try: Ensure close supervision, especially during interactions with cats and any situations triggering snapping. Reinforce positive behaviours with treats or praise. Reward your pup for calm behaviour around the cats and when they successfully navigate situations without snapping. Reinforce basic commands like “leave it,” “stay,” or “down.” Use treats and positive reinforcement when your pup follows these commands, redirecting their attention away from potential triggers. Gradually expose your pup to situations that might trigger snapping. Use controlled scenarios, rewarding calm behaviour and gradually increasing the difficulty as they improve. Consider consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviourist. They can assess the specific dynamics and provide tailored advice to address the snapping behaviour. See that your pup gets sufficient physical and mental exercise. A tired dog is less likely to exhibit unwanted behaviours. Engage in play and activities to channel their energy positively.