When Should I Spay My Dog?

Last week we discussed various non-surgical methods for the control of the breeding cycle in dogs. All these methods have the disadvantage that one must be on hand and remember to give the dog drops or tablets or take her to the veterinarian every six months for an injection. When the costs are added up over the dog’s life the total is quite considerable regardless of which of these methods are chosen.

The surgical spaying of females is still the most practical and economic method for all excepting pedigreed animals required for breeding or showing. The great advantage with this method is that the animal never again comes into the season to attract the unwelcome attentions of all the neighborhood males.

Most veterinarians recommend that the operation is best done when the female is 4 to 6 months old. At this time the operation is simple, as the tissues to be removed do not have a great blood supply and the dog quickly recovers from the operation.

Some owners want their bitch to have puppies before being spayed. As it is not wise to breed animals in their first season this means that the bitch is about 18 months old by the time the puppies are old enough to be weaned.

If it is decided to wait until this time, remember that you will have to take precautions to protect the bitch in her first season.

The operation consists of the removal of the ovaries and uterus. This is not usually undertaken when the bitch is already in season as the blood supply to these organs is greatly increased at this time, making the risk of hemorrhage greater. It is therefore too late to ring your veterinarian for an appointment when you notice the male dogs in the area taking a keen interest in your dog.

Female dogs usually come into season for the first time when they are about eight to nine months old. Small cross-bred dogs sometimes come into season earlier than this, hence the recommendation that the ideal time for the operation is from four to six months.

We are often asked why we do not merely tie the fallopian tubes, as is done in humans. This of course would render the dog sterile but it would still come into season twice a year for three weeks at a time and be attractive to males.

The cost of the operation for a puppy before its first season is about $100 to $300. Naturally, this seems high to some owners, but remember that the operation is done under general anesthetic with the necessary post-operative supervision. It is usually hospitalized until the next day and the wound is again checked a week or so later when the sutures are removed. The fee thus includes the initial general examination before anesthesia, the anesthetic, theatre fees, hospitalization, costs of drugs and materials and suture removal.

Surgical spaying of females does not alter the dog’s personality in any way. Very often owners blame any behavioral trait that the dog exhibits on the operation. If the dog is inclined to chase cars, chew flowers or bit postmen before the operation it will certainly do so afterward.

There is a tendency for the bitch to put on weight after being spayed. Removing the hormonal effect of the ovaries leads to an increased efficiency in food use. Once the dog is allowed to become very obese it is very hard to reduce its weight. However, if the dog is well exercised and not overfed this tendency can be kept under control.

See: How to Care for Your Dog and Cat

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