• She will no longer be able to have puppies. We frequently have dogs brought in to us that have been mismated - for example, they ran off on a walk and were found with a male dog, or a dog has somehow managed to get into the owner's garden, or were mated by another dog in the same household. It's more common a problem than you might think!!
• She will no longer have seasons or false pregnancies (when the mammary glands fill with milk and she develops behavioural changes such as nesting, because she thinks she is having puppies).
• The risk of mammary (breast) cancer is reduced is speying occurs before 3 years old.
• It prevents your dog developing pyometra.
The signs of a pyometra include being generally quiet and lethargic, poor appetite, drinking and urinating more, sometimes vomiting. Often there is also an offensive vulval discharge.
An ultrasound scan can usually confirm a pyometra is present.
Without treatment, the dog is unlikely to survive. The treatment is to spey as soon as possible - the surgery is more difficult than a regular spey, the dog is generally older and very ill, so the risks are higher and the cost greater. Speying at an earlier time would have prevented this unpleasant condition from developing.
Seasons generally start from 6-7 months of age, with smaller dogs starting seasons earlier than bigger breeds, which can be well over a year before they have a season. It doesn't matter when they first come in season, and there is no reason to worry if your dog hasn't had a season by 1 year of age.
It is becoming more common for us to spey bitches before they have their first season, generally we do this around 6 months of age. Indeed some rescue centres are doing them as early as 3 months of age. We are happy to discuss the various options about when to spey your dog. There are some breeds where it is advisable to let them have a season prior to speying.
Under a general anaesthetic, an incision is made in the middle of the belly. We then locate and remove both ovaries and most of the uterus (ovariohysterectomy) before stitching everything back together. The muscles and layers between the muscle and the skin are stitched with soluble stitches, but the skin stitches are not soluble, and will need to be removed 10 days after surgery. She will be given a pain killing injection and sent home with an oral pain killing anti-inflammatory medication.
Dogs almost always are able to go home the same day.
Speying is a big operation but one that we perform very commonly so are very familiar with.
• Whether she is healthy, does she have any problems that would be passed on to her offspring (eg umbilical hernias, poor teeth positioning, skin problems, heart disease);
• How are you going to choose which dog to use for mating? Mating can be an unpleasant procedure especially if the dog has not previously been used at stud.
• Do you know how to look after a whelping bitch?
• What if she needs a caesarean?
• Can you hand rear the puppies if she can't raise them - this involves feeding them every 2 hours for several weeks!!
• Will you find good homes for a large litter of puppies?