P. 644

An Urban Experience
K. Polak1
1Soi Dog Foundation, International Animal Welfare, Phuket, Thailand
Katherine Polak DVM, MS, MPH, DACVPM
167/9 Moo 4, Soi Tambon, Amphur Talang
Mai Khao 10, Thalang District, Phuket, Thailand 83110
Pediatric or early-age spay/neuter generally refers to
the surgical sterilization of male and female dogs and cats under the traditional age of 6 months. Historically, veterinarians have been trained to wait until a dog or
cat is 6 months of age before performing either an ovariohysterectomy or castration. Unfortunately, this practice does little to combat the pet and stray animal overpopulation that is found worldwide. Current research now supports the practice of pediatric spay/neuter, laying many traditionally-held fears to rest. The bene ts are numerous: surgery time is much quicker, patients
are awake and ambulatory typically within an hour of surgery, there are fewer perioperative complications, and it is less expensive due to the need for fewer materials. There are several considerations however one should consider when performing pediatric spay/ neuter procedures. Kittens and puppies should only
be fasted for 2-4 hours prior to surgery to prevent the development of hyperglycemia. Supplemental heating should be administered to prevent hypothermia. Anesthetic management in the pediatric patient can be safe, provided that appropriate attention is paid to basic principles. If the procedure is performed around 3 to 4 months of age around the same time as the  nal puppy or kitten vaccine is administered, private practitioners do not have to worry about the client forgetting or going elsewhere for the surgery.
In most countries in Asia, there is a stray dog and cat population crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide. These animals are frequently subjected to inhumane culling practices, malnutrition, infectious disease and trauma. Over 99% of human rabies fatalities are also attributed to stray dogs.
Western countries such as the US and Canada face
a different overpopulation crisis. While the number of stray dogs is minimal in many communities, millions
of homeless and unwanted animals are euthanized in animal shelters. Unfortunately, the number of kittens and puppies born far outpace the number of available homes. While precise numbers are unavailable, the numbers of animals euthanized ranges from 3 to 4 million.
In an effort to actually improve animal welfare, it
is recommended that resources be devoted to developing low cost spay-neuter programs. While in many communities, tackling the problem of animal overpopulation requires a multifaceted response, spaying and neutering will continue to remain a cornerstone
of pet overpopulation prevention. Such reductions in population will inevitably lead to less puppies and kittens being born onto the street and less animals being relinquished to and euthanized at shelters.
There are two terms routinely used to describe sterilization procedures completed before an animal is 6 months of age: Early-age or pediatric. Early age spay/ neuter typically refers to either an ovariohysterectomy or neutering procedure performed at or before 5 months of age. Pediatric spay/neuter refers to such surgery performed between 8 and 16 weeks of age.
Endorsement of Pediatric Neutering
Pediatric, or early age spay/neuter procedures have been endorsed by several national North American veterinary organizations including the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. It is becoming increasingly more popular, particularly in high- volume spay/neuter and shelter settings. In a shelter environment, veterinarians are now encouraged to spay/ neuter patients as young as 6 weeks of age.
Per the American Veterinary Medical Association:
“The AVMA supports the concept of early (prepubertal, 8 to 16 weeks of age) spay/neuter in dogs and cats in an effort to reduce the number of unwanted animals of these species. Just as for other veterinary medical and surgical procedures, veterinarians should use their best medical judgment in deciding at what age spay/neuter should be performed on individual animals.”
Commonly Cited Concerns
Commonly cited potential complications of pediatric surgery are the possibility of anesthetic or surgical complications on younger animals. Pediatric animals do indeed have higher oxygen consumption rates than adults. Therefore, younger patients must be monitored for hypoventiliation. Anesthetic management in the

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