Saturday Dec 1, 2012
A young couple had made an appointment with me to examine their 6-month-old female dog before spaying next week. "Dr Vanessa has resigned from Toa Payoh Vets and her last day was yesterday," I said. "If you would like Dr Vanessa to spay your dog, you can contact her." Clients can have their personal preferences of the 4 vets at Toa Payoh Vets. Since it was Ok with them, I proceeded to examine the dog whose body was that of a cross between a Westie and a poodle. At 4-kg, whe could be considered suitable for spaying.
I opened the dog's mouth. Her temporary canine teeth were all white and narrow while her incisors were white and broad. "Your dog is less than 6 months of age," I said. "The permanent fangs or canine teeth will erupt at 5-6 months of age, pushing away the 4 puppy canine teeth. However, they have not yet erupted."
The couple was surprised as they were told by the sellers at Pasir Ris that the puppy - a MalteseXpoodle was 3 months old and that was 3 months ago.
"The likely explanation is that the AVA (regulatory authority) permits sale of puppies at 3 months of age. But younger puppies are more in demand and fetch a higher price. So, the puppy was sold at around 2 months of age." The vaccination certificate was not available. In any case, this puppy was less than 6 months of age.
"Can the dog be spayed at 5 months of age?" the lady asked.
"Yes," I said. "The animal welfare people sterilise them as young as 4 ,months of age. My advice is to spay her 2 months after her first heat to permit her private parts to develop fully to a msture state. But if you want to spay her before her first bleeding, 6 months of age would do." I showed the couple that this dog still had not develop the nipples. It would take time for her to mature.
"The vulval area is brownish," I said. "Is she licking her privte part? If she does, she may have a urinary tract infection."
I gave the couple a urinary bottle to collect urine for urine analysis as I could palpate a half-full bladder. "Clean the pee pan well and flush with water. When the dog pees there, collect 3 ml of the urine with this sterile syringe." The couple went home and came back soon with a bottle of yellow urine for analysis of bacteria.
"The last time she was checked by Dr Vanessa, the urine dipstick showed protein present," the young man said to me.
"A urine sample for analysis would be necessary to check for crystals, blood cells and bacteria."
Young vets must know when the permanent canine tooth erupts so as to estimate the age of young dogs. They erupt between 5-6 months, not 6-8 months, generally. In this way, they can estimate the age of the young dog.