View Full Version : Early heat and Spaying

14th December 2010, 03:44 AM
So my plan for Coco is to spay her after her first heat. That is what my breeder recommended. I have heard females can go into season as early as 4 months old. If she does happen to be an early bloomer, is it better to wait until her second season? I still think a 4 month old puppy would be so young to spay :( !!!

14th December 2010, 04:57 AM
There will be several months after her first season, dogs typically go into season twice a year (someone correct me if I'm wrong about this). So "after her first season" could be a couple months after, not necessarily the immediately after.

My vet recommended waiting till all guinness' baby teeth had fallen out. I eventually gave up on the last three teeth and had him done at a year old, they just yanked the extra teeth while he was out.

I think spaying/neutering before 6 months is atypical in the US (except puppies from shelters).

14th December 2010, 04:32 PM
I think the chance of your puppy going into heat at only four months is virtually nil; this would be extremely rare. More likely this will happen between six and nine months and requires extreme care during the four weeks that a season generally takes. During this time she should never be out alone even in a fenced garden because large dogs can clear a fence 6-7 feet high with no problem if they are determined.

Pregnancy has a higher fatality risk for the mother than many illnesses and if she is pregnant by a larger breed, this increases the risk of very serious complications or death so I cannot stress enough the care that an owner needs to take if they keep a bitch intact for one season or many.

Most vets would recommend spaying before the first season for a number of reasons–including the fact that she will have just under a one in 10 chance in her lifetime of mammary tumours, the most common cancer in female dogs, if she goes through one season. She has a one in four chance after she goes through two. If spayed before her first heat, she has basically zero chance of this particular cancer.

Set against this, some feel it is better to wait until they reach maturity–e.g. they go through a first season, and then you wait three months between seasons, which takes her to about a year old, at which point she will have done most of her growing ( though she will continue to fill out).

There is plenty of information on spay and neuter figures and facts in the health Library section that will help you make a decision and also to decide whether you feel comfortable managing a dog as closely as she must be managed for the period of that initial heat (when she cannot be walked, etc).

14th December 2010, 09:29 PM
Here is a link to a balanced analysis of when to spay a female.

14th December 2010, 10:10 PM
Great article, thank you for that.

14th December 2010, 11:46 PM
Well, except that it excludes some important considerations (and several of these effects are for large breeds or are breed specific). I have always thought NIAIA irresponsible in presenting one side of an issue, excluding what I think in the real, pet-owner world is far more likely to *actually* kill their dog, as opposed to incremental increases of mostly infrequent conditions.

First the 'risks' of many of these prospective conditions are extremely low to begin with so an increased risk is actually still miniscule over the life of the dog. Set that against the risk of not spaying a female cavalier: pyometra in cavaliers. This infection is frequently fatal and painful, coming on fast with no noticeable advance symptoms; and at best, very costly and risky to address with an emergency spay. According to a large Swedish study across dozens of breeds, the incidence of pyometra in cavalier females was amongst the very highest in ALL breeds examined with more than a third having pyo if left unspayed. Mammary cancer is also the most common cancer in female dogs, accounting for more than half of all tumours, and half are malignant. In rescue, we frequently see it in older unspayed female dogs. Waiting til after the second heat to spay still leaves a female dog with a one in four chance of this cancer.

But the article fails to look at the welfare/behavioural-related arguments -- which would include death rates for dogs that run far higher -- easily! than any of the possible medical risks.

How many of the unneutered dogs produce litters that end up at pounds, or are put down by the owner (numerous dogs dead in one go)? How many unspayed females die giving birth or after from complications (birth is after all a significant mortality risk). How many unneutered dogs (M&F) stray because of hormones calling? How many of those meet a sad end in accidents or are put down as strays in pounds? How many dogs end up surrendered to pounds or rescues or are just taken to the vets and requested to be pts for behavioural issues directly related to not having been neutered and where the owner has done no training to manage the issues (especially with males)?

On the behavioural side for males, from a UC Davis Vet School study, neutering brings: a 94% reduction in roaming -- 66% reduction in mounting -- 63% reduction in inter-male aggression -- 59% reduction in urine marking. Those are many of the main reasons people get rid of their dogs! I worked in general rescue in kill pounds where unneutered males always made up about 70% of all pound dogs; unspayed females (often in heat), another 25% or so. Neutered males or females make up only a tiny proportion. Most of those pound dogs are put down. In Ireland, that totals over 16,000 annually in pounds, mostly healthy dogs, being put down. It is millions in the US.

I would think NIAIA posting stuff like this would frustrate many reputable breeders (as I am sure it does). They don't seem to offer a counterbalance defending neutering -- about why reputable breeders sell puppies on spay/neuter contracts, why controlling indiscriminate breeding in pedigree dogs is essential, and what the welfare-related behavioural arguments for neutering are. It is far too easy to overlook the author's own (unfortunately, dismissively made) point:

This article will not discuss the impact of spay/neuter on population control, or the impact of spay/neuter on behavior

which are of course, both directly related to pet fatalities, and surely more significantly associated with risk of death than any of the health aspects reviewed. It is far too easy to scare the typical pet owner into thinking the statistically small increased risks cited here are major risks for their pets, so the message comes across that they should not spay at all.

PS I also wonder what someone else than the author might make of her same review of literature. A while ago, I went and read through some of the studies cited in this article and found that in several cases, the studies were few, the study samples small and the 'increased risks' were actually tiny. These points are not noted (ie a fourfold increase to a teensy percentage is a raised but not a significant risk; the article does not convey such critical points). :rolleyes: I've done doctoral level research myself. I would wonder at submitting an article like this without a more nuanced introduction about the counterbalance of the population and behaviour elements and overall death/accident risk, given the sensitivity of the topic and the misuse that could be made of it.

15th December 2010, 04:15 AM
Here is another spay/neuter article on the NAIA website. http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/spayneuterage.pdf
"Determining the best age at which to spay or neuter: an evidence-based analysis."