A spay surgery prevents dogs from getting pregnant by removing both the ovaries and the uterus. It’s not as simple as the neuter surgery the guys get–in fact, it’s major surgery–but your darling girl will only be affected for a few days, maybe a week. Afterward, she’ll enjoy many health benefits and neither of you will have to deal with her being in heat. Can you say, “freedom”?
Unless you plan to responsibly breed your female, spay her. Think you can just keep away unwanted suitors? Even experienced breeders get “oops” litters: dogs will jump gates, bolt through doors, dig under fences, and jump out of cars to mate. Like teenagers going to the prom, when dogs with raging hormones get together at the wrong time, you could have undesirable consequences.
The benefits to your dog are considerable:
- Spaying reduces risk of certain illnesses, such as pyometra (a common, life-threatening infection of the uterus) or mammary gland cancer.
- Spaying reduces pet overpopulation. Millions of dogs are put down every year because there aren’t enough homes for them.
- Spaying saves you from dealing with males who are wildly attracted to your dog in heat.
- You don’t have to choose between a dog in sanitary pads or mess all over your house. (Leaving her in the backyard so she won’t make a mess inside is not a good choice unless you’re purposely trying to mate her to the most persistent male in the area.)
- Spaying eliminates the rather unattractive (read: totally offensive) odor often associated with a dog in heat. Your nose may not be as sensitive as your dog’s, but even you will be able to smell this.
Remember, unspayed female dogs go into heat about once every eight months and it lasts for as long as three weeks each time. And they don’t go into menopause. They regularly go into heat for their entire lives–unless they’re spayed.
When it’s time to spay your dog
She can be spayed any time after eight weeks of age, and preferably before her first heat for the best health benefits. The first heat cycle occurs somewhere around six months of age, depending on the breed.
Preparing your dog for surgery
Presurgical blood work is usually offered to make sure your dog is healthy enough for surgery and doesn’t have any unknown conditions that would affect the choice of anesthesia. Typically, young and healthy dogs don’t need it, but it’s a good idea to have a baseline reference for future blood work.
Follow the directions your clinic gives, but generally speaking the dog should not eat for at least eight hours before the surgery, because the anesthesia can cause nausea. Some veterinarians ask you to stop all food starting at midnight the night before the surgery. Drinking water beforehand is fine, however.