Neutering - Spaying a Female Dog
Considerations for Spaying Your Female Dog
Neutering a female dog is routine surgery, but it is not a small operation. It is important to make an informed decision when deciding whether to spay your dog or not.
Spaying prevents or reduces the likelihood of may life threatening diseases, as well as ensuring against unwanted pregnancies:
- Preventing infection of the uterus (pyometra)
- Preventing ovarian cancer
- Reducing the likelihood of mammary (breast) cancer
The possible disadvantages are those associated with undergoing major surgery and a general anaesthetic, and the possibility of urinary incontinence in later life.
Fortunately, the benefits of this surgery far outweigh the risks involved in anaesthesia and surgery, which are very small indeed. Urinary incontinence in later life is a nuisance but not very common, and can usually be controlled with medication. There is no medical benefit in allowing a bitch to have one litter before spay, as is sometimes believed. Some of the greatest benefits of the operation, such as protection against mammary tumours, are lost if spaying is delayed.
Breeding can be a hugely rewarding experience, but requires knowledge and commitment before going ahead. There can be significant expense and work involved, and the bitch needs to be of a suitable temperament and free from hereditary problems. Some people are concerned that their pet may become fat after being spayed, but in fact this is entirely preventable through healthy diet and exercise.
At Marshalswick Veterinary Surgery we fully recommend spaying when there has been a decision not to breed, for the important health benefits to the bitch. Of course, every dog is individual, and different circumstances, such as concurrent illness, will be taken into consideration when planning the right course of action for your pet.
Deciding When to Spay
The best time to spay a bitch is at five and a half to six months old, before the first season has occurred, or if she is already mature, then at three to four months after a season. It is important not to spay when a bitch is in season or about to come into season, as the blood vessels supplying the uterus and ovaries are enlarged, making the surgery more difficult. It is also not ideal to spay too soon after a season has finished, as this can leave a bitch suffering from a hormonal imbalance known as 'false pregnancy'. If your dog is very overweight, you may well be advised that she needs to lose weight before surgery, as excess weight can increase the difficulty of the operation. The decision of when to proceed should be based on the pet and owner's individual circumstances, so if you are considering spaying your dog but have concerns, please do call and we can discuss these with you.