Calls for veterinarians to ensure that clients have all the information they require to make an informed decision about neutering their animals and to move away from the traditional approach of ‘routine’ spaying and neutering of owned animals are central to the world’s first Global Guidelines on Reproduction Control.

The Guidelines have been prepared by the Reproduction Control Committee (RCC) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice, the WSAVA’s official scientific journal. They aim to help WSAVA members make science-based choices for the management of reproduction in their patients, while safeguarding animal welfare and supporting the human-companion animal bond. Included are discussions of current practice, together with explanations of newer approaches, both surgical and non-surgical. They also explore the health benefits and drawbacks of each method and explore ethical questions.

Commenting on the launch of the new Global Guidelines, RCC Chair Professor Stefano Romagnoli said: “Managing reproduction is a critical and rapidly evolving area of companion animal practice. For many years, our default advice has been that dogs should be neutered and bitches spayed – but, in the light of new scientific evidence, it’s time for a paradigm shift in our thinking.

“Emerging scientific data shows that gonadectomy can adversely impact the health of some animals. It also shows that recommending castration in older dogs to reduce their risk of developing Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPC) may not be appropriate because, in fact, in some cases, late castration can actually increase the risk of prostatic carcinoma.

“We also have concerns about increasing moves to early neutering or for neutering to be used as a method of behavioural control.”

The Guidelines call on veterinarians to update their own knowledge and to spend more time with clients, advising them on the benefits, risks and side-effects of surgical and non-surgical castration and the options for their particular animal. This should take into account their breed, age, any behavioural issues and other relevant factors. While veterinarians may need to spend more time in neutering consultations in order to convey all the necessary information, the RCC believes this to be in the best interests of the animal and essential to ensure that owners are fully informed and guided towards the most appropriate solution.

Available for free download from the WSAVA website, the Guidelines acknowledge that shelter animals are in a different situation and provide recommendations tailored to their needs, including the need to secure a new home. Setting global standards for companion animal veterinary care is one of the WSAVA’s key goals with the RCC working to ensure that veterinarians globally have access to the latest resources and knowledge in this area. The work of the Committee is kindly supported by Virbac.

Professor Romagnoli added: “We hope that WSAVA members find the Guidelines a valuable resource and that they will be a catalyst for change in reproduction control practice globally.”

The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 113 member associations and works to enhance standards of clinical care for companion animals. Its core activities include the development of WSAVA Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice, including pain management, nutrition and vaccination, together with campaigning for change on issues affecting its members.

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