Just like raising human kids, there are countless ways to raise furkids. Opinions differ on almost every topic, and there are more than a few highly contentious issues that come up time and again.

Here are some of the most controversial questions we receive at our veterinary practice.

  1. Adopt vs. shop: Should I rescue a pet or buy one?

    If you’re not a serious breeder, adopting is the way to go. There are so many pets out there needing loving homes, and animal shelters are overflowing with unwanted animals. You can adopt anything from a tiny baby to a mature adult animal, depending on your needs and preferences.

    Keep in mind that if you do want a purebred animal, supporting basic yard breeding will only exacerbate a serious situation we already face in South Africa. Rather, get in contact with a reputable, registered breeder. Remember: just because you buy a pet from a breeder doesn’t mean that the animal won’t have have any health issues or other problems.

  2. Is it safe to vaccinate my pet?

    From a vet’s perspective, vaccines are 100% necessary and help to prevent potentially fatal diseases. Some vaccines, like those for rabies, are in fact legally required for all dogs and cats in South Africa.

    Some people believe that there may be unpleasant side effects from vaccines, but much of this is so-called ‘anti-vaxxer’ misinformation that isn’t based on scientific evidence.

  3. Do I need to let my dog have a litter of puppies before I spay her?

    Unfortunately, this is a common old wive’s tale: many people believe that a dog should have a litter before she is spayed. The truth is that there is absolutely no benefit to your dog in allowing this. In fact, it’s been proven that if you spay your dog before she comes into her first heat, you can significantly help reduce her chances of developing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

  4. Will I dampen my dog’s masculinity if I neuter him?

    No – this is simply not the case. Male behavior is part innate, and part learned from a very young age. This means that a male dog will continue acting like a male dog even after castration.

    Castration can help prevent roaming of male dogs (to find females on heat), and helps to reduce the incidence of fighting between dogs. It also may lead to a slight reduction in aggression, but it’s important to remember that a vicious dog will remain so even after castration if it hasn’t been trained properly. Uncastrated dogs are at an increased risk of developing prostate issues as they get older.

  5. Is it okay to dock my dog’s tail or crop his ears? I like the way it looks / It’s tradition / It’s fashionable for this breed

    Both of these types of animal body modification are banned in South Africa, and it’s illegal for vets in SA to perform these procedures. They are considered not only unnecessary but unethical, causing needless suffering to pets.

    There’s is absolutely no reason you would need to modify your dog’s body for trend or fashion purposes, or because it’s ‘tradition’ for your breed to look a certain way. The only time any sort of body modification will be performed by a vet is if there is a health reason for it – for example, dogs experiencing severe cases of ‘happy tail syndrome’, where their tails actually begin to cause them suffering.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in!

We’d love to hear your opinion on these controversial topics. Leave a comment to share your thoughts with our community, and keep an eye on our blog for part two of this article.

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