Puppy Growth and Vizsla Health Issues Advice
The following is excellent advice originally directed towards new German Shepherd puppy owners, but it also applies to Vizsla owners as well as any other large breed dog owner.
“Your puppy comes from a long line of many generations of dogs with no sign of hip dysplasia. That means that every dog in your puppies pedigree has been x-rayed by a veterinarian and was certified as having no signs of hip dysplasia. This has been a breeding requirement in Europe for a very long time. You now have your new puppy home. It is now time for you to do your part. Please follow these instruction very carefully. The first ingredient to good hips is genetics and has been provided by your breeder, but most important, is what YOU make of it now!
Please do not overfeed your puppy. We even suggest you feed your puppy an adult food to promote slower growth. No free feeding!
Absolutely no high jumps, no stair climbing and only very little run and stop games (playing ball). NO slick floors. It is OK to walk on the slick floors but no running or playing. No forced walks until your puppy is 12 months old and the bones are stabilized. If you have stairs you will have to carry your puppy. No jumping in and out of the vehicle.
A puppy should be limited on exercise. No long walks on the leash. It is better to walk eight 10 minute walks than two 2 hour walks. Too much exercise is not good for a developing puppy as the bones are not stabilized.
No rough playing where the puppy could be injured. Please tell your children to be very careful not to fall on the puppy.
We know it may be hard to limit your puppy but you will be thankful. The US has the highest rate of German Shepherds with hip dysplasia and it is all because people are not educated. I remember my first German Shepherd in Germany. We had to carry him up and down stairs until he was about 1 year old. He was not allowed to go on very long walks and was not allowed to jump. Free yard exercise (back yard) is OK. That means that the puppy is out in the backyard alone walking around.”
For access to the full reference visit: http://www.policedogs.us/Hip-Dysplasia.html
Health Effects of Early Spaying/Neutering
The sexual hormones are needed to tell the dog’s body when to close the growth plates. The dog’s body has growth plates throughout. Without the sexual hormones, those growth plates will keep growing longer than they are supposed to. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered at an early age will be taller than normal. They will have lighter bones. They can have narrow skulls and their chests can be narrow. They don’t have normal bone density. They are more prone to cranial cruciate ligament ruptures and are more likely to develop hip dysplasia. They are more prone to hemangiosarcoma and to bone cancer. And they are more prone to hypothyroidism. www.caninesports.com/SpayNeuter.html Spaying or neutering your dog too young exposes your dog to serious health risks later in life.
How Long To Wait?
This does not mean that you shouldn’t spay or neuter your dog. It does mean that you should wait until your puppy’s sexual hormones have done their work and helped your puppy physically mature into an adult dog. The best time to spay your puppy is when she is around 2 years old depending on size of the dog and when he/she starts to physically look mature. This means that his/her growth plates have closed and he/she should have the proper bone density. By waiting this long you will be avoiding most of the health problems that are associated with early spaying.
If you are worrying about your dog coming in season or getting pregnant during the first year, most medium and larger dogs may come in season between 9 and 12 months of age. Some larger breeds may not come in season for the first time until they are 18-24 months of age. (PLEASE NOTE: THAT COUNTRY OF ORIGIN VIZSLAS FEMALES IN THE PAST HAVE COME INTO FIRST SEASON AT APPROXIMATELY 14-16 MONTHS OF AGE ) Most owners can go through one heat season with their dog, without getting pregnant, before they spay. Your dog will be much healthier in the long run if you wait to spay until she is 2 years old. The same is true for male dogs and neutering.
Spaying and neutering too young can cause your dog many health problems later in life. Wait until your puppy is 2 years old to spay/neuter and your dog will be much healthier in the long run. It is the best thing to do for your puppy.”
Important Note: CLIPPNG PUPPY TOE NAILS.
VIZSLA TOE NAILS MUST BE KEPT SHORT. THE VIZSLA IS SUPPOSE TO HAVE TIGHTLY KNITTED TOES, OVAL SHAPED PAW, ALMOST ROUND LIKE A CAT’S PAW. IF A PUPPY’S NAILS ARE NOT TRIMMED REGULARLY ON A WEEKLY BASIS AND KEPT VERY SHORT, THE LONG TOE NAILS WILL CAUSE THE TOES TO BECOME EXTENDED AND PERMANENTLY ELONGATED, CHANGING THE PAW STRUCTURE OF THE PUP. ONCE THIS HAPPENS IT CAN NOT BE REVERSED. IT IS UP TO THE NEW OWNER TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND NOT ALLOW THIS TO OCCUR. PLEASE ENSURE NAILS ARE TRIMMED ON A REGULAR TIGHT SCHEDULE AND ARE KEPT SHORT ALWAYS. THEY SHOULD NEVER TOUCH THE GROUND, IF YOU HEAR CLICKING ON THE FLOOR THEY ARE TOO LONG!
For Information on epilepsy which effects many dog breeds…
More of the effects of spay/neuter. Here is the text for the latest study (2015) regarding spay/neuter of vizslas:
By Dr. Becker
A recent study raises even more questions about traditional spay/neuter practices for U.S. dogs.
The study, titled “Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas,”1 was conducted by a team of researchers with support from the Vizsla Club of America Welfare Foundation. It was published in the February 1, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Like previous research on Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers, the results of the Vizsla study are a call to action to take a closer look at current neutering recommendations.
Vizsla Study Results
The Vizsla study involved 2,505 dogs, and reported these results:
- Dogs neutered or spayed at any age were at significantly increased risk for developing mast cell cancer, lymphoma, all other cancers, all cancers combined, and fear of storms, compared with intact dogs.
- Females spayed at 12 months or younger, and both genders neutered or spayed at over 12 months had significantly increased odds of developing hemangiosarcoma, compared with intact dogs.
- Dogs of both genders neutered or spayed at 6 months or younger had significantly increased odds of developing a behavioral disorder, including separation anxiety, noise phobia, timidity, excitability, submissive urination, aggression, hyperactivity, and/or fear biting. When it came to thunderstorm phobia, all neutered or spayed Vizslas were at greater risk than intact Vizslas, regardless of age at neutering.
- The younger the age at neutering, the earlier the age at diagnosis with mast cell cancer, cancers other than mast cell, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, all cancers combined, a behavioral disorder, or fear of storms.
- Compared to intact dogs, neutered and spayed dogs had a 3.5 times higher risk of developing mast cell cancer, regardless of what age they were neutered.
- Spayed females had nine times higher incidence of hemangiosarcoma compared to intact females, regardless of when spaying was performed, however, no difference in incidence of this type of cancer was found for neutered vs. intact males.
- Neutered and spayed dogs had 4.3 times higher incidence of lymphoma (lymphosarcoma), regardless of age at time of neutering.
- Neutered and spayed dogs had five times higher incidence of other types of cancer, regardless of age of neutering.
- Spayed females had 6.5 times higher incidence of all cancers combined compared to intact females, and neutered males had 3.6 times higher incidence than intact males.
Vizsla Researchers Conclude More Studies Are Needed on the Biological Effects of Spaying and Neutering, and Also on Methods of Sterilization That Do Not Involve Removal of the Gonads.
The Vizsla researchers concluded that:
“Additional studies are needed on the biological effects of removing gonadal hormones and on methods to render dogs infertile that do not involve gonadectomy. Veterinarians should discuss the benefits and possible adverse effects of gonadectomy with clients, giving consideration to the breed of dog, the owner’s circumstances, and the anticipated use of the dog.”
(The full Vizsla study can be downloaded here.)
I absolutely agree with the researchers’ conclusion that studies are needed on alternative methods of sterilizing dogs that do not involve removing the gonads. As I explained in an earlier video, over the years I’ve changed my view on spaying and neutering dogs, based not just on research like Vizsla study, but also on the health challenges faced by so many of my canine patients after I spayed or neutered them. These were primarily irreversible metabolic diseases that appeared within a few years of a dog’s surgery.
My current approach is far removed from the view I held in my early days as a vet, when I felt it was my duty and obligation to spay and neuter every dog at a young age. Nowadays, I work with each individual pet owner to make decisions that will provide the most health benefits for the dog.
Whenever possible, I prefer to leave dogs intact. However, this approach requires a highly responsible pet guardian who is fully committed to and capable of preventing the dog from mating (unless the owner is a responsible breeder and that’s the goal).
My second choice is to sterilize without desexing. This means performing a procedure that will prevent pregnancy while sparing the testes or ovaries so that they continue to produce hormones essential for the dog’s health and well-being. This typically involves a vasectomy for male dogs, and either a tubal ligation or modified spay for females. The modified spay removes the uterus while preserving the hormone-producing ovaries.
The cases in which I opt for a full spay or neuter usually involve an older dog who has developed a condition that is best resolved by the surgery, for example, pyometra (a uterine disease in female dogs), or moderate to severe benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate in male dogs) that is impeding urination and/or causing the animal discomfort. Generally speaking, mature intact dogs have had the benefit of a lifetime of sex hormone production, so the endocrine imbalances we see with spayed or neutered puppies don’t occur when dogs are desexed in their later years.
Hungarian Vizsla Health
More links to great sources of puppy growth, health and development articles forthcoming.