Sterilisation for bitches

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In what cases is sterilisation recommended?

There are several reasons that can lead a person to decide to spay their dog.

The main reason, and the reason why all canine and feline welfare groups recommend sterilisation for bitches, is to be able to have control over the birth of unwanted litters, this way avoiding abandonment or future puppies ending up in the wrong hands.

A female can have litters ranging from two to fifteen or nearly twenty puppies! If each of those puppies (female) may in turn have more litters when they reach sexual maturity, can you imagine how many puppies your bitch will have been able to bring into the world?

If you don’t want to be responsible for all these little ones, you must have the confidence to be able to control your bitch in the receptive phases during her cycles. Avoid contact with other males that haven’t been castrated, check that she can’t escape or get lost, etc.

Another reason that can lead an owner to spay their bitch is for health reasons.


A female can develop different types of cysts and tumours throughout their life. For example, females that tend to develop false pregnancies (pseudopregnancies) are more likely to develop a tumour on their mammary glands. This is because their mammary glands produce milk and there are no puppies to nurse, so in many cases this milk can inflame and infect the bitch’s glands, causing tumours and cysts.

With sterilisation in female dogs, there will be no pseudopregnancies and, therefore, the risk of suffering from cysts on the mammary glands is reduced more or less depending on the age of the dog when they were sterilised. If you do not intend on your dog having a litter, we recommend early spaying before the first or second heat.

With sterilisation in bitches also we avoid uterine infections (pyometra), ovarian cysts and vaginal prolapses.

In short: if you are sure that you don’t want a litter from your dog, for health reasons you should ideally sterilise them young and this way you will reduce the risk of tumours and cysts on the mammary glands, uterus and ovaries enormously.

What does the operation consist of?

General anaesthesia:

The first thing the vet will do to the dog is a pre-surgical examination. An analysis and chest X-rays will tell us whether or not it is advisable to go under with general anaesthesia depending on their health.

The vet will also ask us a series of questions related to the history and conditions of our dog: do they have any illnesses? Are they currently taking any medications? Are they allergic to anything?

It is very important not to forget to tell the vet even the smallest details of your dog’s medical history.

Once we have the vet’s OK, we go to the clinic the morning of the day of the operation.

To carry out sterilisation on female dogs, it is essential that they have an empty stomach as it is done with general anaesthesia. Do not forget that you must remove water and food from the night before after their dinner, and do not give them any treats that night or the next morning.

The vital signs of the dog will be monitored at all times by specific equipment and will also be supervised by a specialist so they can quickly detect any anomalies that could happen.

Surgery:

Once the dog is anaesthetised, the vet will proceed to shave the dog’s abdomen to perform the operation without risk of infection which could occur as a result of hair coming into contact with an open wound.

The objective of the intervention is to remove the dog’s ovaries and uterus with the least possible risk to her. (Ovariohysterectomy).

After the operation is the “waking up” of the dog. It usually takes a few minutes and is done gradually. Once the dog has woken up, the vet will keep her under observation for a few hours to make sure everything works properly.

In most cases the dog can go home the same evening.

Care after your dog’s sterilisation

The dog and the vet have already done their part. Now it’s the owner’s responsibility to make sure the scar heals as well and as quickly as possible.

It could be that the same day of surgery your dog seems absent, a little dazed, and doesn’t want to eat or drink. Ideally, buy a tin of gastrointestinal wet dog food with a chicken and rice base and give her a little without forcing her, or even let her fast until the next day.

It is highly recommended to put an Elizabethan collar (commonly known as “pet cone” or “cone of shame”) on the dog. This will prevent them from licking the wound and potentially causing an infection, or even pulling out the stitches.

Also, you have to take care that the dog does not jump, run, climb and jump down from the bed or sofa etc., as some stitches may come loose.

The vet will tell us what medication they must take and over how many days we must give it to them, as well as guidelines on how to disinfect and moisturise the dog’s scar.

Depending on the type of stitches that have been used, the vet will follow up to determine when they can be removed. Currently, intradermal suture (internal stitches) is commonly used. They are made with an absorbable material that may not be necessary to remove.

Pros and cons of sterilisation for bitches

Pros:

  • It will prevent our dog from “accidentally” falling pregnant.
  • It will prevent our dog from developing tumours, cysts and prolapses, and thus lengthen their life considerably.
  • It will avoid our dog developing false pregnancies (pseudopregnancies).
  • It will help our dog to have better relationships with other dogs. Remember that it is annoying for her when they try to mount her in the non-receptive phase so she can take a disliking to other dogs for this reason.
  • It will avoid fights between males when she is in heat.
  • It will prevent her from escaping, either by avoiding an annoying male in the park during her non-receptive phase or, conversely, looking for love in her receptive phase.
  • Although this is less important, it will avoid bleeding every six months.

Cons:

  • General anaesthesia may pose a risk to the animal’s life if she is too old or has heart or lung failure.
  • In some cases, the post-operative can be hard on the dog (and their owners).
  • In some very specific cases, the dogs may have urinary incontinence after surgery.
  • Sterilised dogs are (in some cases) more likely to get fat and therefore you should monitor their diet more carefully and increase daily exercise.

We are telling you this following our recent experience after our dog Sakura’s sterilisation.

We had been toying with the idea of having Sakura sterilised for some time. While she was in heat, she managed to escape from the park to get away from an annoying male, she has been cornered by dozens of dogs trying to mount her, and an endless amount of other situations that were beginning to make her relationship with males change. (She was becoming aggressive with them).

Besides this, the last two times she was in heat she developed a false pregnancy which caused her to have swollen mammary glands, she didn’t want to go out and she was more subdued (plus she would spend the nights digging in her bed).

Seeing that this could cause behavioural and health problems, and making the most of the fact that they had to anaesthetise her to remove a small cyst from her paw, we decided to have her sterilised.

This is Sakura’s scar the same day of the operation. She had absorbable intradermal stitches.

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If you have another dog at home, we recommend putting an old t-shirt on your dog so that their friend doesn’t lick the wound. Dogs don’t only lick their own wounds: they also lick other dogs’ wounds to soothe them.

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Of course Sakura was spoiled in the Gudog office!

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We hope this information has helped you if you are thinking about sterilising you dog.

We realise that there are many points of view and opinions on whether to sterilise/castrate your dog or not. In our case, and having no intention of breeding from Sakura, the pros outweighed the cons.

Let us know what you think about this!

 

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