We vets are always talking about the importance of diet, tooth brushing and preventative parasite treatment. All of these are important but I sometimes feel like a cracked record talking about them.

Yesterday I had an example of why one piece of preventative medicine (or rather surgery) is so important – namely – if you are not breeding from your female dog get her neutered (spayed). Yesterday I had three big operations in the morning, two of them were operating on older female dogs that had severe womb infections (known as pyometra – where the womb literally fills with pus and the only cure is to operate). The surgery, a full ovariohysterectomy, is much more high risk in an elderly, sick patient. The other operation I had was removing a mammary mass (or breast cancer) from a dog – again a big operation, with no guarantee that a cancer will not recur.

Both of these conditions are prevented by getting your dog spayed when she is young. Once spayed there is no chance of getting a womb infection and if you spay your dog early enough (either before or after their first season) you dramatically reduce the risk of breast cancer in later life. So please, if you are not going to breed from your dog then get them spayed; I enjoy operating as much as the next vet but I would rather your beloved dog did not have to go through preventable, major surgery in later life.

*Alice Moore is a vet at Castle Veterinary Clinic, Dorchester and Weymouth. Tel 01305 267083