Written by Dr Rob Schaeche
I was consulting this week when confronted with a very unwell female dog.
She was a non-desexed, middle-aged bitch with a vaginal discharge.
The owners mentioned they were unaware that problems like pyometra, which their dog had developed, could occur in older, non-desexed females.
So I thought I would run through some reasons why desexing should be considered if not planning to mate your bitch.
1. Convenience – every cycle (usually five to seven months) female dogs come into season where they pass bloody vaginal discharge for approximately two weeks.
This can be difficult, especially if the dogs are housed inside.
Unwanted pregnancies can also occur as a bitch becomes more amorous while in season and her scent becomes more pronounced attracting entire males to her.
2. Pyometra – each cycle a bitch has without getting pregnant, triggers minor changes in the uterine wall that decreases its defence against infections.
Thus, as they age, their chances of a uterine infection increase markedly.
A pyometra is a life-threatening event where the uterus becomes filled with pus.
As this is happening the wall becomes more friable and can rupture, making them a medical emergency.
3. Prolonged high oestrogen levels – this state in female dogs also predisposes for breast cancer, with a significant number of bitches developing mammary cancer.
Thus, there are many reasons to desex your female dog.
If you do not want pups, we would generally desex at six months.
It’s an operation that dogs cope with very well.