View Full Version : When to Spay/When is 1st heat???

21st March 2009, 04:59 PM
Hello all, I haven't posted here in awhile, & I never did figure out the picture thing. Anyway my cav, Alice, is now 4 months old and is finished with all her shots. We have taken her to the dog park once but she was pretty timid there... our bigger dogs enjoy it so we're hoping she gets used to it. (We did take her to the little dog area.) About spaying... we had it scheduled but then cancelled it for lack of funds at the moment since I am temporarily out of work. My main question is: at what age exactly do cav's go into heat? We hadn't planned on breeding so we wanted to get her spayed before her 1st heat. I know the age can vary depending on the breed. My Irish Setter wasn't spayed until 17 months and she still hadn't had a heat. :confused: (We had considered breeding her but then changed our minds...) But I thought little dogs could start anytime after 6 months. Also, Alice sure does LOVE to eat weird things off the ground, I was somewhat releived to read here that that is a breed trait. We have been walking her for potty times and recently started to let her in the back yard with our other dogs. So yesterday she came in with muddy paws and muddy mouth and then later threw up her dinner! I'm sure she must've eaten something weird. She and our Irish setter were partners in crime it seems.... the setter had mud on her nose and threw up her dinner as well! :yuk: Today everyone is fine, eating normally and no barfing, thank goodness.... We just ADORE Alice so much, we now ask ourselves why we ever got any other breed! (We still love our other pooches, but wow, cavs are awesome!) I am afraid to get her spayed, I have this irrational fear of something going wrong... Me, who worked at a vet practice for nearly 3 years and have seen many surgeries! Well, anyway, thanks in advance for any advice!
Tawna from St. Peters, Missouri

21st March 2009, 05:58 PM
Ilsa had her first heat at 7 months and it was a mess. She woke up with blood all over her legs and stomach, I thought she was dying and ran to the vet. Very embarrassing!!!! I don't know if it's necessary to spay before the first heat. A vet told me once it's best to wait until after the first one. I am not an expert though so I'm sure others here will have an opinion.

I am also afraid to spay! I know it is a hysterecemy (spelling sorry), a major surgery that causes permanent changes to the hormonal structure as it does for humans. And they don't offer hormone supplements to dogs. I just chose not to. And I've heard too many horror stories of spaying gone wrong to do it for no reason. In my opinion, a responsible owner will not have a pregnant dog. I never have. Her heats have calmed down over the years and now she drops a tiny bit for about 2 days.

Of course I am paranoid and hate surgery on my girl, so don't listen to me! lol!!!

Jen and Ilsa

21st March 2009, 06:58 PM
We got Mindy at 8 months and had her spay surgery scheduled (part of the purchase agreement) but she went into heat within a couple of days after us getting her. It wasn't too bad (I've never had a dog in heat before). I had visions of male dogs stalking our yard but maybe because it was her first heat (and our neighborhood dogs didn't run loose) it really wasn't a big deal. Mindy did have complications after her spay but if I get another female dog I will get her spayed anyway regardless of the paranoia I know I will feel.

21st March 2009, 07:30 PM
Most cavaliers come into season between 5-11 months-- average seems to be -6-9 months.

21st March 2009, 08:06 PM
Maddie was 8 months old when she first came into season. That first season was very light, to the point that I think we missed the first 2 weeks of it, never had unwanted attention from dogs, and we only saw 1 spot of blood. Mind you, she is a very clean little girl.:luv:
We had her spayed 3 months after her first season, and she had no complications.:thmbsup:

There is a difference of opinion about when to spay, some recommend before the first season, some say after the first. I know the health benefits with regards to preventing some cancers (mammary I think) reduce with each season the dog has. My personal preference is to let the dog mature physically and mentally before altering them. I know at 11 months Maddie was still an adolescent, but she was fully grown, and there was this compromise between allowing natural physical and mental maturity and hopefully preventing health problems in the future.

21st March 2009, 09:04 PM
I agree with Madpip-- there are costs and benefits to leaving a dog natural or having it neutered and I prefer to let them grow up first. It is a very personal decision, which is why it irritates me to no end when vets tell people the dog WILL be happier and healthier after they are castrated. Here are some peer reviewed studies:

1. Slauterbeck JR, Pankratz K, Xu KT, et al. Canine ovariohysterectomy
and orchiectomy increases the prevalence of ACL injury.Clin Orthop 2004;429:301- 305.

Females that had ovariohysterectomy and males that had orchiectomy had a significantly higher prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament rupture than the sexually intact dogs. Larger dogs had an increased prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament injury compared with smaller or medium-sized dogs, with the increased rupture rates for sterilized animals holding across breeds and sizes. Sterilization of either gender increased the prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament injury, suggesting a potential effect of gonadal gender on prevalence of injury of this ligament.

2. Smith AN. Hemangiosarcoma in dogs and cats. Vet Clin North
Am Small Anim Pract 2003;33:533- 552.

Prymak C, McKee LJ, Goldschmidt MH, et al. Epidemiologic,
clinical, pathologic, and prognostic characteristics of splenic
hemangiosarcoma and splenic hematoma in dogs: 217 case

Compared with sexually intact females, spayed females were at significantly increased risk for developing splenic hemangiosarcoma.

3. Ware WA, Hopper DL. Cardiac tumors in dogs: 1982-1995. J Vet
Intern Med 1999;13:95-103.

Tumors occurred with similar frequency in males and females, but the relative risk for spayed females was >4 times that for intact females. For hemangiosarcoma, spayed females had >5 times greater relative risk than did intact females. The risk for castrated males was slightly greater than that for intact males, which had 2.4 times the relative risk of intact females. Thus, neutering appeared to increase the risk of cardiac tumor in both sexes.

4. Prostate. 2007 Aug 1;67(11):1174- 81. A population study of neutering status as a risk factor for canine prostate cancer.Bryan JN, Keeler MR, Henry CJ, Bryan ME, Hahn AW, Caldwell CW.

Neutered males had a significantly increased risk for each form of cancer. Neutered males had an odds ratio of 3.56 (3.02-4.21) for urinary bladder TCC, 8.00 (5.60-11.42) for prostate TCC, 2.12 (1.80-2.49) for prostate adenocarcinoma, 3.86 (3.13-4.16) for prostate carcinoma, and 2.84 (2.57-3.14) for all prostate cancers.

21st March 2009, 09:10 PM
There is some good information on cost/benefit to neutering.


21st March 2009, 11:03 PM
Hi Tawna, The average age for 1st season is 6 - 9 months. If, and when to spay is a matter of personal choice. IMO as long as she can be watched carefully and confined whilst in season, spaying is an unnecessary procedure. Well you wouldn't have a hysterectomy yourself unless you had good reason to would you?

I'm aware some breeders only sell puppies on a neuter cause, but IMO this has nothing to do with health as such! Many vets will try to encourage new clients with pups to have them spayed asap (this is more to do with population control than health).

I have never spayed any of mine until well into middle age, and only then with good reason. I think if you really must spay her, then at least wait until she has fully developed and matured.

As I say, its very much a matter of personal choice.

22nd March 2009, 03:19 AM
Thanks to all for the kind advice, I feel a lot better about waiting on the spay for a while, at least until 6 months of age, or possibly later. Which works well for my check book as well! :) Alice is a huge baby about every thing, screams for shots, etc, so I wasn't looking forward to the surgery.
Thanks so much!

22nd March 2009, 03:20 AM
Hi Tawna,

Asking about spaying and neutering is as risky as asking about pet food. You will get very opinionated replies.
From the standpoint of a surgeon, here is the short answer:

. The problem with the 1st heat is that you can't predict it. Nobody cares (nobody should care) whether it might occur at 10 months. You need to try to "catch" them BEFORE the 1st heat. So in my mind, it's easier to keep 6 months in mind.

. There are very, very few cancers that are preventable (as we will discuss shortly in my newsletter - available for free on my web site :- ) (www.drphilzeltzman.com (http://www.drphilzeltzman.com))

Mammary (breast) cancer is a devastating and deadly disease in dogs (and esp. cats), which happens to be pretty much 100% preventable by spaying before the 1st heat. Hence my comment above.

So, weighing the pros and the cons, I would definitely suggest spaying your pup before 6 months of age.

PS: By the way, I am a surgeon who almost never does spays and neuters!!!
But I do surgery to treat mammary cancer, -much too often.

www.drphilzeltzman.com (http://www.drphilzeltzman.com)