Friday, 25 March 2011

TVIL: Should I spay my bitch?

I received this question via email from someone who follows me on twitter but for some technical reason I haven't been able to email them a reply. Sometimes my computer doesn't like AOL addresses, sorry.
So I'm popping it up on here in the hope that the person who emailed me reads it. Let me know if you do! Hopefully my answer to you might help other people to decide whether to spay their bitches, or not, as well.

Dear Jacq

I wonder if you would be so kind to advise me about my little rescue whippet cross (aged 3-5yrs approx).
When I saw her at Battersea Dogs Home (Christmas just gone), I was advised that they would spay her before I took her home. Then, on the morning of the op, they called to say that they had found a mid-line scar and were certain she'd already been spayed (They did say that if for some reason they were wrong, they would spay for free), so off I went to collect her. When I got her home and she rolled over on my bed, I had a good look and saw no sign of a scar. Low and behold, within a week of being home, she came into season. So, now I have the spaying dilema. I had my previous greyhound bitch spayed, as I also had an entire boy greyhound at the time. She was very sorry for herself after the spaying, for quite some time, and I felt awful for putting her through it.
My dilema is that I feel like I'm having her spayed for my own convenience, for boy dog hassle free walks etc, as I no longer have a male dog at home. I know all about pyometra and mammary tumours, so I know that it would be good for her in that respect. The last dog I had spayed was about 13 years ago, so I imagine the procedure may have advanced since then.
 Please could you tell me your thoughts on spaying and how long they take to recover etc.
 Kind Regards and thank you in advance, S

Dear S,

I do think you should have her spayed.

It might be invasive surgery but is very routine these days. You can specifically request that an experienced vet does the surgery, and check she will be given pain relief during the surgery so she wakes up pain free. Hounds aren't the bravest dogs in the world ( I have one myself!) so ask if you can have some pain relief for the next few days post op. The anaesthetics used these days ( as opposed to 13 years ago) are much easier on the dogs,so they have less of a hangover.
You can expect your bitch to be a little subdued for a couple of days but by day 3-4 you will probably have trouble keeping her on lead.
Most vets like to wait until 3 months after the last season to spay a bitch. This is to minimise blood loss and prevent a large drop in hormone levels once the reproductive system is removed.
Any risks of spaying are firmly outweighed by the advantages. Your pet will have no chance of contracting uterine or ovarian cancer and her chances of developing breast cancer are also lessoned. Pyometra is an infection of the womb that most commonly occurs in middle aged bitches. After each season without pregnancy, the lining of the uterus thickens a little and it is these changes that cause pyometra to develop 1-2 months after her heat. A bitch with pyometra will need spaying but the surgery will cost at least twice as much as the routine equivalent, as your pet will need antibiotics and iv fluids, and the surgery is more complicated. She will have a bigger scar and will take longer to recover. Some affected dogs need hospitilisation and more intensive nursing and in some cases a bitch with pyometra will die.
A spayed bitch can not get accidently pregnant, leaving you with puppies to rear and find homes with and she is less likely to get stolen for breeding purposes. This is a very common problem with sight hounds unfortunately.
As you can see, spaying a bitch is not just a matter of convenience for you, but is important for her health as well. She will have a couple of quiet days but hopefully will bounce back from her operation very quickly compared to your last greyhound.
Best of luck  with whatever you decide.

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