Getting a new puppy is very exciting, and there are so many things to think about! Where will she sleep? Where to take her for walks? What food to give her? Not to mention considerations about toilet training, vaccinations, worming and flea treatment! With all of this going on it can be easy to forget one other thing – whether or not she should be spayed.
What is spaying?
A spay is a veterinary word for an ovariohysterectomy, put simply – the womb and ovaries are both removed during an operation to prevent the bitch from being able to sexually reproduce.
When should a spay be carried out?
Different vets will likely have different answers but here at The Vet, we encourage people to have their dogs spayed before the first season, around the age of 5 months. This prevents certain changes from taking place in the body (eg. False pregnancy ) and also lowers the chance of her accidentally becoming pregnant- this is particularly important in households which contain un-castrated male dogs (especially siblings). Spaying earlier can also give greater protection from certain cancers linked to the reproductive tract.
What is a season?
A season is a time in which a bitch can become pregnant. The first signs of her coming into season are a swollen vulva, spots of blood dripping from the vulva and an increased interest in males who come into contact with her. Some dogs only have one season a year and others have three – it will vary amongst individuals. Seasons can last between 7 and 21 days.
Why should we spay?
There are many reasons for considering spaying your bitch, however the most important ones are:
Pyometra 1 in 4 bitches will develop a potentially fatal womb infection later in life, if they are not spayed. The bitch can become very poorly very quickly and will require an expensive emergency surgery to remove the infected organ.
No Pseudo pregnancy (where the body- following a season- believes it is pregnant) This is common in bitches and can occur after each season. It can result in distress to the dog and owner, due to behavioural issues such as aggression, nesting, sudden anxiety and fits of whimpering. A bitch undergoing a false pregnancy may produce milk, lose her appetite and occasionally have morning sickness
Decreases prevalence of mammary cancer – Due to the ovaries being removed, there are no reproductive hormones present in the body putting the dog through heat cycles, this in turn helps to vastly decrease the chance of her getting mammary (breast) cancer in her later years, thus allowing your pet to live a longer and happier life. Additionally, the cervix and ovaries cannot become cancerous…because they are no longer there.
Over population and cost – although your pup may be cute and lovable, please think before breeding your dog- there are thousands of unwanted puppies and dogs in the UK. In addition, there are many potential complications with pregnancy and birth. Whelping (giving birth) can be particularly dangerous for certain breeds with disproportionate features, most notably – Pugs, French Bulldogs, Bulldogs and Chihuahuas. If your dog does need an emergency C-section not only can this be risky for both mother and pups, it can also be costly. C-sections can be quite a traumatic experience for them, and sometimes they can reject their puppies (this can also happen after a natural birth) so it may be that you are required to then hand rear a litter of puppies who need feeding every 2 hours, day and night. Worming treatments, worm treatments, specialist puppy food and first vaccinations can again cost hundreds of pounds depending on the size of the litter.
No mess or stress! Seasons can be a messy business. When a bitch is in heat she will bleed and so you may find droplets of blood around the house or on the furniture. Special knickers can be bought to prevent this, and also to prevent males from being able to tie with her during her season. When walking a bitch on season you may find she gets a lot of unwanted attention from male dogs. This can be quite stressful for both her and the owner. Additionally, we do not want an inappropriate male to mate with her, as if the dogs are very large breed in comparison with the female, she may have significant difficulties in carrying the pups, or even managing to give birth.
What happens on the day of a spay?
A spay is carried out at the Vets. You are asked to drop your dog off in the morning and fill out a special questionnaire so we know how your pet has been doing over the past week or so. If everything is ok, a consent form is filled out and we take your dog down to our lovely kennel room, where she is sedated and placed into a comfortable cubicle to await her surgery. When it is time for your dog to be operated on, she is carried to a table for the anaesthetic to be injected into her cephalic vein (a vein that runs over the top of her front legs) – she will fall asleep within a few seconds. Her stomach will be completely shaved and cleaned of any dirt sitting under the coat.
A small cut is made down the middle of her abdomen (just under her stomach button) and the ovaries and uterus are removed through this cut. The whole operation will take between thirty minutes and an hour depending on how big she is. Once this is finished she is taken back to her kennel, where she is supplied with pain relief and a nurse sits with her whilst she comes round from the anaesthetic. After a few hours she will be able to go home with her medications and a buster collar to protect the wound.
Although spaying can seem like a daunting option (A spay is major surgery at the end of the day), it is quite clear there are many benefits to carrying out the procedure. We do our very best to ensure that no animal ever feels extreme discomfort after having surgery – you will be provided with the necessary medications and instructions to keep your pet happy and settled after the experience. After two days or so most animals are worrying their owners because they feel so well and are bouncing about everywhere! If you do have any more concerns or questions regarding the subject, please have a chat to our lovely staff who will be more than welcome to help ease any concerns you may have and keep you as informed as possible.