Canine Family Planning

Canine Family Planning

Female Dogs

Why have your bitch spayed?
If you have decided not to breed with your bitch, spaying early on in life has several benefits, the greatest of which is protection against mammary cancer. In fact, spaying before the first season almost totally eliminates the risk of mammary cancer later on in life. Spaying also eliminates the risk of cancer, cysts or infection of the uterus and ovaries, all potentially life threatening conditions. It also prevents the twice yearly attention of male dogs and the depressing condition of false pregnancy that many dogs suffer after their season.

When is the best time to have a bitch spayed?
We recommend that female dogs are spayed around six or seven months of age, before they come into season. If you have an older dog, the operation should be performed midway between seasons, usually 3 months after the end of the previous season.

What does the operation involve?
The operation involves the complete removal of both ovaries and the uterus through an incision along the midline of the abdomen. The wound is usually repaired with stitches inserted under the skin (the stitches will dissolve), so in many cases there will be no sutures to be removed. Your dog will be provided with painkilling medication so she will not feel sore afterwards. She will usually return home on the same day of the surgery. Post-operative checks are performed following the surgery to ensure your dog has made a complete recovery.

What changes may arise afterwards?
Your dog will no longer come into season after being spayed. A neutered dog’s requirement for food is less as the metabolic rate is reduced, so a reduction in food will usually be required.

Are there any disadvantages?
In rare cases a spayed dog may develop mild urinary incontinence in later life. This condition usually responds well to hormone replacement therapy or medication.

Some individuals of certain breeds (e.g. Cocker spaniels and Red Setters) may show mild alterations in coat texture and colour.

Male Dogs

Why have a male dog neutered?
Neutering prevents testicular problems (cancers, torsions or infections), prostatic disease and cancers of the anal region. Another reason is one or both testicles being retained in the abdomen, resulting in a greatly increased risk of testicular cancer. The most common reasons for neutering, however, are related to behavioural problems, e.g. an overactive sex drive, excessive urine marking, roaming and some forms of dominance over family members.

What does the surgery involve?
The operation involves the complete removal of both testicles via a small incision in front of the scrotum. The dog will usually return home on the same day that surgery is performed. He will be provided with painkilling medication so he should not feel sore after the operation. You will be provided with instructions for your dog’s care on the day of the operation. He will need to return to the surgery for a check-up and removal of skin sutures (if present).

How quickly does castration work?
Within four weeks of the operation a male dog will be unable to fertilise a female dog and behavioural problems should improve over the same time scale. However, castration is NOT an alternative to good training and specific behavioural modification.

When should the operation be performed?
As part of the treatment for undesirable behaviour, we like to perform the operation before the problem becomes ingrained. In most cases, this means operating at 6 to 7 months of age. Castration is most commonly recommended in older dogs for medical rather than behavioural disorders.

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