Main > To spay or not to spay older female dogs (27 replies)
To spay or not to spay older female dogs
by HighDesertGSD on 05 October 2011 - 17:06
Are there any disadvantage of spaying an older bitch in terms of health?
by djc on 05 October 2011 - 17:35
|There is a VERY high percentage of older bitches that are prone to and die from Pyometra. As dogs age their immune system starts to fail and this is one reason they are prone to it. The same holds true to some extent for males with prostate and testicular cancer. In my 6+ years as a vet tech I saw this to be true and in my mind there is no contest to spay and neuter. It should be done when the animal is done breeding. The only drawback I see is that if you wait too long and the dog is too old there is a much higher risk for things to go wrong during surgery, as well as the healing process. Unfortunatly, spaying a breeding bitch does not eliminate the risk of breast tumors and cancer. |
by Judy P on 05 October 2011 - 18:31
|Debby is right the biggest advantage is that you eliminate the possibility of Pyometra. As for breast cancer - no. If you spay a female before she ever goes into season for the first time you eliminate almost 100% the possibility of breast cancer, once she goes into season that drops to 50% and past that there is no real difference.|
Here in Grand Rapids one of the big medical research centers is doing a lot of work in the area of breast cancer as the link between human and canine breast cancer is close to identical. One of my girls - a rescue JRT - had breast tumors removed this spring and is involved in the research project.
by hexe on 06 October 2011 - 02:00
|A third vote for spaying an older female, or any adult bitch that's not going to be used for breeding--a closed pyometra, or an unnoticed open pyo, can kill a bitch, and no dog needs to be undergoing emergency surgery when she's already trying to battle an established uterine infection...and your checkbook won't like the costs of that emergency surgery much, either. Better to spay (or have just a hysterectomy done, leaving the ovaries behind) while the dog is healthy and avoid putting her through the infection. |
And ditto on the mammary cancer benefit: as soon as the bitch goes through one heat cycle, you've lost your 100% prevention, and once she's had a second cycle, there's virtually no prevention from the spay.
by Betta Wolf on 06 October 2011 - 03:25
|What are the stats on a raw fed dog and pyometra|
Leerburg dog died from anesthesia at 8 yo, from the surgery to prefent the above.
by hexe on 06 October 2011 - 04:06
|There is no relationship between what type of diet a bitch is fed and whether or not she will develop a uterine infection after a heat cycle. Raw- or kibble-fed, the fact remains that every time a bitch goes through an estrus, the opportunity for bacteria to enter the reproductive tract is created and an infection can become established in one or both horns of the uterus.|
As for the death under anesthesia, that is a risk taken with all general anesthesia, for humans and animals alike. Such deaths are not common in healthy dogs, however, especially with the newer anesthetic agents and the addition of monitoring equipment in the operating room that is comparable to that found in the OR of a human hospital. That said, there is sufficient anecdotal reporting to suggest that the Malinois, like greyhounds, may be more sensitive to general anesthesia, not in a small measure due to the low body fat ratio usually found in most specimens of the breed (you rarely see a fat Malinois or a fat greyhound).
While no vet ever wants to lose an animal due to adverse response to anesthesia, in dogs like this you still have to weigh the options: if this particular dog you refer to died on the table during a routine spay while she was perfectly healthy, what do you think her chances of making it out of the OR alive would have been if she'd needed an emergency spay in response to a closed pyometra that had rendered her systemically septicemic?
The decision is always up to the owner of the bitch as to whether the risks posed by general anesthesia and surgery are worth taking or not. I can find no good argument for leaving a senior bitch intact if she's not going to be intentionally bred that doesn't fail in the face of the risks posed by having to have an emergency surgery done on a dog that is in crisis condition due to a pyo...but to each his own.
by BlackthornGSD on 06 October 2011 - 06:25
|I have heard of (but not read) recent studies that show that bitches who are not spayed until after 5+ years old may live several years longer than bitches spayed early in their lives.|
That said, as long as the female is healthy, I think it's better to spay a an older female who will not be bred again. In particular, I think it's better to do the surgery while the dog is in good health and able to recover easily from the spay surgery (as opposed to having to worry about pyo or pregnancy in an older dog).
by Blitzen on 06 October 2011 - 17:42
|I lost a 4 year old during a spay due to anesthesia. She dropped like a stone the second the needle hit the vein. Til then she was perfectly healthy and happy. I also lost an 11 year old to pyo. I now always spay a bitch if she's not going to be bred again as long as she's healthy. If you've ever seen the size of a uterus in a big bitch with pyo, you know a pyo spay is major surgery and very risky. I once weighed a uterus we removed from a bullmastiff with pyo. It weighed 6 pounds and the horns were almost as big round as a man's arm. There is also a very real danger of nicking one of those horns spilling infection into the abdominal cavity - peritonitis.|
Having dealt with breast cancer in 2 dogs, both dying as a result, if I ever get a female intended as a pet, you betcha she will be spayed before her first season. I've done that many times in the last 50 some years. I sold female puppies on contracts that they would be spayed before their first season and they were. No breast cancer, no skeletal issues, lived long healthy lives. I'd have to go with what I have seen work in my own dogs and for me the benefits of an early spay far outweigh the negative risks of waiting or not spaying at all. A dog spayed young might mature with more length of leg than she would have if not spayed, but so what? Preventing breast cancer trumps cosmetics any day.
by VomMarischal on 06 October 2011 - 17:55
|Very interesting, Christine. Would like to read about that.|
by Blitzen on 06 October 2011 - 18:03
|The oldest dog I ever owned lived to be 23, medium sized mix, spayed before her first season. The 2nd and 3rd oldest, both a few months shy of 15, both large breeds, both spayed by the time they were 7 after they each had 2 litters.|
by TorquieGirl on 07 October 2011 - 06:08
I would advise that you spay her to be safe, and to keep her healthyMy husband and I just went through this with our 7 year old shepherd "Torque". Torque started having a brownish discharge, but she didn't seem to have any pain or anything. After about 8 hours, she was in pain, and my husband and I had to sit up with her all night while we were waiting for her appointment with the vet . By the time the vet opened and I was heading to his offie with Torque she was howling and crying (poor little girl) The vet took her temperature and she was Torque ended up having to have emergency surgery, because she ended up with pyometra, and it was one of the scariest moments of my life. We almost lost her. The vtr said that if we would have waited another day or two, he would probably not been able to save her. She had the surgery September 11th, and just got her stitches out on September 27th. She is now very healthy, happy and back to her old self.
As I have just gone through this, I would strongly recomend to have her fixed, rather than take a chance. Also I would imagine that the sugery and hospital stay would not have been as expensive as it was. Thank God that he was watching over her during the surgery. The vet did tell us that we did not have to have her fixed, but she would have to be bred succesfully in order for the pyometra to go away, and even then there is no guarantee.
Hope this helps and good luck.
by ShadyLady on 07 October 2011 - 14:50
|I've always been told by vets what everyone has said previously in this thread, but isn't there another side to the conventional protocol of sterilization surgery?|
Where are the links from the people who don't believe in spaying/neutering? There was a thread awhile ago where some studies/evidence was given for leaving dogs intact their whole lives.
by Louise M. Penery on 08 October 2011 - 21:08
|The incidence of pyometra has nothing to do with a bitch's immune system. It is induced by progesterone--usually the result of a persistent corpus luteum. The only pyoI've expereinced was an open one in an 11-month old bitch going out of her first heat and following a history of puppy vaginitis. She was treated with Luteolyse(PGF2a) which lyses the persistent CL. After treatment,she had 4 successful litters and no recurence of pyo before she was spayed at the age of 9.|
by Sunsilver on 08 October 2011 - 21:40
|Lucky you, Louise!|
My friend's bitch developed pyo after her second heat. She was treated successfully, and made a good recovery. She was subsequently bred, and had two litters. However, she was on antibiotics throughout both pregnancies.
The owner decided to see if she could do without the antibiotics for her third litter. Disaster struck about 10 or 12 days before the bitch's due date, when she began to have a vaginal discharge. Ultrasound showed most of the pups in one horn were dead. She passed the dead pups, and the decision was made to try to keep the rest of the pups alive until they were mature enough to survive outside the womb. Despite heavy doses of antibiotics, she had to be spayed 4 days before her due date, as the infection was getting out of control. The vet managed to deliver 2 live pups, but both died within 24 hours.
Sometimes it's just not meant to be...
by djc on 09 October 2011 - 02:21
|I hardly think one can assume that it has NOTHING to do with an older dog's immune system! The immune system is what fights off infection!! Just because it occasionally pops up in younger dogs does not discount the fact that it is wide spread in older females. Besides who's to say that a younger dog can't have a compromised immune system? Obviously, sunsilver's friend's dog did, because as long as she was on antibiotics she was OK.|
Most of the stuff I've seen against spaying and neutering has to do with repercussions from doing it too young.
by Louise M. Penery on 09 October 2011 - 19:05
|Pyo is not caused by a "bacterial infection. Do your homework or ask a competent veterinary reproductive specilist or endocrinologist.|
by djc on 09 October 2011 - 23:25
|Believe me Louise I have done lots of homework and while some of the hormonal and structural changes after a dog's estrus give way to the INFECTION CALLED PYOMETRA, it is the BACTERIA that enters through the vagina into the uterus that causes the problem.|
To back me up I went on a google search and the very first link explains it well:
"Pyometra is a result of hormonal and structural changes in the uterus lining. This can happen at any age, whether she has bred or not, and whether it is her 1st or 10th heat (although it becomes more common as the dog gets older). The main risk period for a female is for eight weeks after her peak standing heat (or estrus cycle) has ended. Normally during this period, the cervix, which was open during her heat, begins to close, and the inner lining begins to adapt back to normal. However, cystic hyperplasia of the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) – known as cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH) – may occur at this time for some animals, as an inappropriate response to progesterone.
Under these circumstances, bacteria (especially E. coli) that have migrated from the vagina into the uterus find the environment favorable to growth, especially since progesterone also causes mucus secretion, closes the cervix (preventing uterine drainage), and decreases uterine contractility. The condition of the cervix is a major factor in the severity of the condition.
by Louise M. Penery on 10 October 2011 - 00:43
|Since when is wikipedia an authoritative source?|
by Blitzen on 10 October 2011 - 03:01
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