Contrary to popular belief, spaying is not just sterilization of the female dog via the severing of the fallopian tubes in a manner similar to neutering a male. Instead, the typical ovariohysterectomy procedure requires that the ovaries and uterus itself are removed from the body. In humans, this procedure is performed as an emergency measure to fight conditions such as aggressive ovarian and uterine cancers, which can otherwise become lethal. The same is true in dogs, but it can also be used to prevent them from breeding in cases where the animal has a particularly undesirable hereditary condition that you would not want them to pass on to another generation.
Can Dogs Get Spayed When in Heat?
However, since the dog’s reproductive cycle (commonly known as ‘estrus’ or ‘heat’) produces pronounced physiological changes in the animal every eight or so months, you may want to take certain factors into consideration before deciding that your dog is ready for the procedure.
Is My Dog in Heat?
The female reproductive cycle of dogs tends to be very obvious in nature, mainly as a means of providing signals to potential mates that are hard to miss. When in heat, the dog’s body will also go through some changes, as the animal tries to optimize its chances of potentially becoming pregnant with a litter of puppies. The most obvious symptom that this period has begun will be a swelling of the animal’s vulva, which will take on a more pronounced coloration and possibly begin to expel a quantity of discharge accompanied by a foul odor. This will cause the dog to need to clean the area more frequently, so you may notice them licking themselves far more than usual. Another behavioral change consists of the animal becoming far more energetic and possibly even physically aggressive as hormones are produced at a higher level. You should keep in mind that symptoms such as swelling and discharge can also be indicative of a bacterial infection of the genitalia, which a vet will be able to determine with a simple physical examination.
More information and advice from a vet regarding dogs going into heat can be found in our condition guide on the subject.
How Do Have My Dog Spayed While in Heat?
The removal of the ovaries and uterus is obviously a major surgical procedure requiring a significant amount of time and expertise. Additionally, having the surgery done during heat presents a significant amount of risk due to the amount of additional blood being pumped through the area, which can cause excessive bleeding if not dealt with immediately. Because of this, the vet will usually advise you wait until the reproductive period has ended to have the surgery done, unless there is a major threat to the dog’s wellbeing (such as the presence of cancer).
To begin the procedure, the vet will anesthetize the dog and make a lateral incision along the abdomen to remove the reproductive organs. After the treatment has been completed, the dog will need extensive aftercare in order to make sure they recover properly. Regular doses of painkillers and antibiotics will be crucial, as will the restriction of the dog’s levels of exercise so that they do not pull out their stitches.
How Is Spaying Similar in Dogs, Humans and Other Animals?
Although the spaying procedure is a major undertaking, it is not unusual for other animals and humans to have similar operations performed on occasion. In fact, there are some very apparent similarities between species when it comes to this type of surgery.
The area has multiple major blood vessels passing through it, meaning that the risk posed by the surgery can be quite high.
After the removal of the uterus, all animals will be unable to conceive offspring. Likewise, the risk posed by most reproductive cancers is nullified.
Recovery methods for all types of animal remain essentially the same, with the main emphasis being on preventing infection and making sure that the surgical wound heals optimally.
How Is Spaying Different in Dogs, Humans and Other Animals?
The removal of the womb and ovaries is a complex and demanding operation for the surgeon and the patient. As such, there will obviously be some differences in the way the treatment is applied to various species.
Whilst dogs most often have their ovaries and uteruses removed as a precaution to stop them from breeding, humans will usually have the procedure done as a means of preventing the spread of diseases such as cancer
Although dogs and cats will typically have an incision made lengthways over the abdomen, humans will normally have a lateral incision made in order to give greater access to the organs.
Despite the fact that animals will usually adapt quite readily after their surgery and display no behavioral changes or difference in mood, humans may find themselves needing psychological support in the wake of such a serious operation.
Humans do not have as intensive a reproductive cycle as dogs, meaning that a hysterectomy does not necessarily have a time window where the procedure cannot be performed without incurring a level of increased risk to the patient.
According to academic studies that have analyzed data pertaining to multiple cases of dogs being spayed, the point in the dog’s life at which it is spayed can have a major impact on its health. According to researchers at both Brown and Ohio State University, dogs that have been spayed prior to entering into their first heat cycle will have a much lower chance of developing cancers in the rest of their reproductive system, namely the mammary glands. Thus, there is a clear advantage to having your dog spayed early on in its life before its risk of developing such cancers starts to rise.