To spay or not

#1
Hello everyone... I have been quiet for a while but all is well and Betty is a fully grown one year old! The question now is do we spay her and I am really battling with this decision. We do not intend to breed her and our vets recommend spaying. However I'm not sure! To me she is perfect as she is!!! I appreciate that none of you are experts but if anyone has read any interesting articles or has any points to make... please do!
 
#3
It’s a difficult one. There is evidence that the chance of mammary cancer is greatly reduced the earlier a bitch is spayed; once she has gone through two seasons, there is no benefit in this respect. And a bitch left unspayed has a one in four chance of suffering from pyometra over the course of her life. It can make it seem like a no-brainer to have a bitch spayed, but it’s not as simple as that. There are risks which are increased with spaying, too. And you can’t just look at the percentage that the risk goes up, you have to take the original risk into account as well. If there is a 0.5% chance of getting a condition pre-spay and that risk is doubled, it’s still only 1%.

I had Willow spayed before her first season, and regret that. I thought I was doing the best thing at the time, but now I wouldn’t do it before maturity. Squidge went through two seasons before she was spayed, and I was still very conflicted as to whether it was the right thing to do or not. Her seasons didn’t bother her, but the timing of them didn’t work well for us to be able to keep her and Shadow apart, so he either needed to be neutered or chemically castrated if we were to keep her entire. The best course of action seemed to be to spay her.
But I hated that decision and even now it makes me very uncomfortable. She’s totally fine and I can’t say it’s not easier, but it still feels wrong to me, that I would put her through a surgery to change her body in such a dramatic way.
Most people don’t think twice about it, and their dogs are absolutely fine. For others, it’s life-saving, as their dogs already have pyometra, whether the owners are aware or not.

At the end of the day, it’s a very personal decision and one that doesn’t have a single right answer.
 

Naya

Moderator
Location
Bristol, UK
#4
I agree with Fiona regarding it being a personal decision. The choice was taken out of our hands as Harley had her first season, then developed pyometra shortly afterwards - she was just over 12 months old.
 
#5
Hi. We had Red spayed at 15 months, two months after her first season. As we had no intention of breeding her and weighing the pros and cons up, it seemed the right thing to do. I know we made the right decision but it’s not easy taking them for surgery and it flits through my mind from time to time. As dog owners we have to make many decisions for them and we can only do what we feel to be right
 
#6
As dog owners we have to make many decisions for them and we can only do what we feel to be right
Exactly. @lilliput the fact that you are asking questions and making an informed decision means that, whatever you decide, you are doing right by your girl 🙂

We spayed Ella before her first season. Has it prevented some nasty diseases? Hopefully. Has it lead to any negatives (physically, temperamentally or otherwise). Who knows?

If I had another young bitch right now, I'd say I'd likely get her spayed before her first season again. Not certainly, but more likely than not. In my mind, I felt that the positives of spaying were great enough to make it worthwhile.

Good luck with your decision 🙂
 
Location
Australia
#10
My husband is now saying that we should breed her and keep a couple of puppies at least🙈🤔
Your girl is gorgeous and I’m sure the thought of having a couple of pups from her is very alluring. But breeding is a huge responsibility. To do it ethically you would have to have her tested for any inherited disorders (joint issues etc etc) and make sure the same was true for the Dad. Having puppies carries risks for the Mum and pups and taking on the management of a pregnant bitch isn’t something for those new to the game. And then there is finding good homes for the pups....might not be an issue for everyone but in my mind it is a big call to breed pups and send them out into the world to an unknown future. Anyway, my 2 cents on the matter :)
 
#11
Here’s a fairly recent article (Sep 2019) from The NY Times about this topic: Opinion | Dogs Are Not Here for Our Convenience

We chose to keep Snowie intact. He’s going on for 8 yo. His physio said that intact dogs have better-protected cruciates and are better formed (bones are at the correct lengths). Unfortunately Snowie has a severely arthritic spine, so I can’t say his intactness has completely protected his skeleton. We chose not to neuter him because of the evidence I read about for protecting against cancers particularly of the long bones.

My sister spayed her bitch at 7 months, and at about 4 yo she developed mammary cancer.

For us, it was a massively difficult decision to not neuter our boy, especially given the social pressures to neuter. It does take careful management to prevent unwanted puppies, and he goes through periods of wanting to mount (got less as he’s aged). If you do breed your bitch, do you have great homes for the future puppies? That would always be my concern!

Best of luck with your decision! My advice would be to not rush things until you feel comfortable with your own decision.
 
#12
Just a thought @lilliput - has she had her first season? If so, was it all ok? I know we don’t just spay cos of the inconvenience of a season but Red’s one and only season was quite a messy time and I worried about her enormously out on walks. I did not want her to have puppies.

Red’s mum had another litter with the same dad after the litter Red came from. She nearly died so that was the end of her breeding life. Quite sobering when I learnt about that. Think breeding is a massive responsibility.
 
#14
We had Tatze spayed after her first season and she is fit and well, she’s six years old. Personally I would do the same again.

Guide Dogs have conducted a survey, they spayed 500 dogs at six months old and 500 after their first season. They are monitoring them life long so the results will be some time - Gypsy was one of the first and spayed in 2014 at six months old - no adverse effects at all, I’m still in touch with her owner.

:)
 
#16
We had Nelly spayed very soon after she came to live with us , mainly due to risk of Pyometra , she was about two years old but I would have had her spayed after one season if we had owned her then . I agree with @Oberon re puppies, its a massive undertaking with all the recommended health checks beforehand and then homing puppies . It is a personal choice , but make sure its an informed choice xx
 
#18
Hi @lilliput, nice to see you here, and lovely to see pictures of Betty, she looks gorgeous.

My Cassie is 3 and a half now, and was spayed just before she was 2, three months after her second season. She wasn't any bother in her seasons, was very good at keeping herself clean, and was able to enjoy her on lead walks. I too didn't want to put her through surgery, and was very upset about doing so.

I think one of the things about making the decision is that it's completely irrevocable, once it's done it's done, there's no going back.

For me, the over whelming factor in making that decision was that after her first season Cassie had the most horrendous phantom pregnancy. This was distressing to witness, her really believing that she had puppies on the sofa which didn't exist, and I was certain didn't want her to go through that again.

So I would say that having a bitch spayed isn't always for our convenience, but can benefit them in some ways. Not having seasons twice a year means that she can continue with her normal life of going out for off lead walks, going training and visiting public places, without having to lose out for a month or so at a time
Having puppies carries risks for the Mum and pups and taking on the management of a pregnant bitch isn’t something for those new to the game. And then there is finding good homes for the pups....might not be an issue for everyone but in my mind it is a big call to breed pups and send them out into the world to an unknown future. Anyway, my 2 cents on the matter
I whole heartedly agree with this.
 
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