Ovariohysterectomy, commonly called a spay, is typically performed between 4 and 6 months of age, before the first heat cycle. Many female dogs come into heat every six months. Smaller breed dogs may come into heat earlier than larger breed dogs. Older dogs (no matter what breed) can still come into heat.
Some of the signs associated with heat in your female dog are: swelling of the vulva, moving the tail to one side, raising the pelvic area and standing for a male dog. Vaginal bleeding and some vulvular swelling can be seen during this time. Some dogs that have hormonal problems may not come into heat, but this is uncommon. Sometimes you may not be aware of your dog’s heat cycle because she doesn’t exhibit much vaginal bleeding or she is keeping herself clean. It is best not to spay female dogs when they’re in heat due to the increased size and blood supply of the uterus and ovaries, which results in increased surgical risk. Here is a brief list of the likely benefits of spaying your dog:
- Eliminates unwanted pregnancies which result in puppies that are often hard to place in good homes.
- Decreases the possibility of mammary cancer and eliminates the possibility of ovarian cancer.
- Avoids the bloody discharge associated with being in heat.
- Excludes your house from becoming a meeting place for every male dog within miles when your dog is in heat.
- Prevents false pregnancies. During this time, your dogs shows typical physical and psychological changes associated with pregnancy. Enlargement of the mammary glands, accompanied by secretion of a brownish liquid or milk, an increase in appetite, abdominal enlargement, or even nest making and protection of toys can be seen during this time. Some females even become more aggressive. As a general rule, once a dog has a false pregnancy she will usually do it again, every time she comes into heat. The only recommended treatment is having her spayed.
- Spayed pets live longer.
Spaying your dog will not change your dog’s personality, except to make her a calmer, more devoted pet. The surgery will not cause her to become fat and lazy. Any older, less active pet may experience weight gain, which can be controlled by proper diet and exercise.
Unless you are convinced that you will want to show or breed your dog, we recommend that you have your dog spayed. It is a great idea to see one of our veterinarians for a free presurgical examination prior to your dog’s surgery date. This gives us a chance to examine your dog and talk to you about the surgery and optional recommended procedures, such as preanesthetic bloodwork and ECG screening. Feel free to call us if you have any questions regarding this important procedure.