Spay before first heat?

(26 Posts)
BertBert Mon 23-May-16 21:17:28

Our vet recommended spaying our puppy before her first heat but I've also been told by our dog trainer that we should let her have her first season.

Vet said there are health benefits from spaying before her first season but the dog trainer said that spaying before her first season can cause behavioural problems.

As a first time dog owner, I haven't got a clue. Can anyone please help?

jb007 Mon 23-May-16 21:22:02

Our vet advised us to wait til after the first season. I can't remember the exact reason now but think it something about having an immature pelvis if done too early.

TheoriginalLEM Mon 23-May-16 21:23:57

has your dog trainer studied animal physiology to degree level for five years plus years of surgical experience? If so, by all means listen to her instead of the vet!

its about how developed she is. about six months is the average age but some dogs are able to be speyed before that if developed enough. she may have had her first season around that time. if so, it is recommended that you wait about three months to let things settle down.

Madbengalmum Mon 23-May-16 21:24:16

I was told to allow a first season and then spay.

mrslaughan Mon 23-May-16 21:25:21

Can you talk to her breeder? If she has one? We have a giant breed - and I know with females they say to wait until after two seasons , as it takes that long for them to be close to fully mature and to have stopped growing. I am not sure about behaviour, but with our breed it is recommended as this gives less chance of undesirable side affects - like incontinence.
Spaying so young is (again my understanding) quite old fashioned approach - is you get older?

Veterinari Mon 23-May-16 21:31:24

Well LEM I have and as a vet I can tell you that the 'standard' spay at 6 months advice that vets trot out is based on absolutely no evidence. Breeds reach puberty at different ages - a 6 months old chihuahua is at a very different stage of development than a 6 month mastiff.

6 months is simply a convenient age. There may be a reduction in mammary cancer risks if dogs are spayed early but the evidence for this is weak. Neutering increases reactivity and can increase aggression especially in nervous dogs so from a behaviour point of view allowing puberty to occur and hormones to settle/confidence to establish can be beneficial, in that sense the trainer is absolutely right

Neutering may also increase some disease risks in some breeds e.g. Joint disease in golden retrievers, and reduce other disease risks - it will depend on the type of dog as to the individual risks and benefits.

Basically dogs are individual and respond differently to neutering depending on their breed, sex and the age at neutering.

But it's easier to just say '6 months'

Thataintnoetchasketch Mon 23-May-16 21:40:41

Our vet said they wouldn't spay until after a season - our lurcher was a rescued stray. I'm sure they said because we didn't know how old she was there was a risk they could be operating right as she was coming into season & that would cause more blood loss.

Wyldfyre Mon 23-May-16 22:06:09

I spayed my girl before her first season as I had lost a dog to ovarian cancer just weeks before.
I admit that I paniced. In hindsight and having done a lot more research into the subject I would have waited until at least 18 months (regardless of the number of reasons) when she had matured fully - though this age will differ from breed to breed.
It means the growth plates are fully fused and bones are at full strength.
While I cannot conclusively attribute this to an early spay, she is very nervous unless she knows someone. This in stark contrast to her mother (spayed at 7) and her litter mate brother (still intact) who are both very confident dogs. As she has been brought up in that family unit I would expect her to be the same, but she's not and the only difference is the early spay meant she didn't get the full whack of hormones to develop fully.

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 24-May-16 00:42:54

Got our's from Dogs Trust and had no say in the matter - 6 months it was.

All my other dogs have been spayed later. Must say, can't really see the difference. If anything, at about 20 months this dog is still more of a big baby than the others were, but dunno if that's the early spay or just her.

On the whole was really pleased we did it early, though. She bounced back quickly.

BertBert Tue 24-May-16 07:17:13

Thanks everyone for your posts. I'm still so confused.

On the one hand I want to spay her as early as possible to protect her as much as I can form developing cancer etc. but on the other hand, I don't want to cause her any problems by not waiting for her hormones to all kick in.

Our puppy is a lovely, kind, confident and well socialised little girl. She has the happiest & loving of temperaments. I want to do the best for her but with so much contradictory evidence it's hard to know what that is.

I didn't ask the vet about the downside before as we had only just got the puppy and I wasn't aware that there were any concerns about spaying so early. She is due her 6 month check so I will ask the vet about the pros & cons...

Veterinari Tue 24-May-16 07:38:43

Definitely discuss it. Spaying early may (or may not) reduce the risks if some cancers. The mammary protective effects that most vets will mention aren't based on good evidence. Obviously removing the ovaries eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer. But spaying may also increase the risk of cancers like osteosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma etc It's an emerging area of research and quantifying the risks/benefits for different breeds is impossible.

Basically I'd say smaller breeds cope better with early spays, large breeds are often better waiting. Consider your breeds risk of joint disease, neoplasia etc.

Google the BSAVA position on neutering - it gives a good overview of the risks and benefits, but the timing is a very individual decision

exLtEveDallas Tue 24-May-16 07:41:56

Some dogs react badly to the 'rush of hormones' in a first season. RottDog was like this and was a 'terrible teenager' all her life. MuttDog was spayed smack on 6 months and has remained calm. I will always spay at 6 months.

LilCamper Tue 24-May-16 08:06:07

New research coming out suggests it's better to wait until a dog is physically and mentally mature. They need their hormones for their growth plates to close and to mentally grow up.

This will vary from breed to breed as large breeds mature much more slowly than small ones.

GreyHare Tue 24-May-16 09:50:55

I had my dog spayed before her first season, it was my choice after reading up on it, but my dog is a small breed and had pretty much finished growing at 7 months.

TheoriginalLEM Tue 24-May-16 10:11:11

err isnt that what i said? or did you not read my.post properly?

Veterinari Wed 25-May-16 21:03:26

Yes Lem I read your post and it was pretty scathing of the OP giving any consideration to her dog trainer's advice when in fact he was making a very reasonable and valid point.

The decision many vets make to spay at 6 months is not based on 5 years of studying animal physiology, it's based on tradition rather than any evidence. Unfortunately it's that type of close-minded and often slightly arrogant reliance on tradition that leads to dismissal of other's experience and prevents people from properly evaluating current evidence.

It's also not about how developed a bitch is. The uterus and ovaries are fully formed at birth and spays can be performed with minimal anaesthetic risks from 8-10 weeks of age. It's much more about the non-sexual impact of the gonadal hormones on improving behavioural stability as the dog goes through puberty (as the trainer mentioned) and on the development of the musculoskeletal system, neither of these things are complete by 6 months regardless of breed.

Ladyleia Sat 04-Jun-16 22:28:19

Veterinari - thanks so much for posting this advice. I have been feeling like the worst dog owner in the world for not getting my springer spayed before her first birthday (and she is now in season). This helps me feel a little better about allowing her to grow up a bit before having the op (even though it's a bit of a pain to manage a springer in heat). Thank you smile

Bertbert - good luck with making your decision - I totally empathise with your indecision. I had been told exactly the same by the vet (do it quickly) and by our breeder (leave it for a season). So difficult to know what to do. As it happens, DDog's op was cancelled and she came into season before we could arrange another one. Hope it works out for you whatever you decide.

Out2pasture Sat 04-Jun-16 22:37:05

depends on the breed and the size of the dog.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 04-Jun-16 23:30:00

I hope that's merely a reflection of the vets in your own practice Veterinari and not a general rule. The vets I take my dog to are always off on courses and lectures and I would give them the credit of being more well informed than traditional.

EasyToEatTiger Mon 06-Jun-16 09:23:58

Our bitch is being spayed this month at 18 months. She went through a growth spurt at about 12 months and came into season at 15 months. She seems more stable in herself now. My reason for wanting to spay is simply that there are enough spare collies and her temperament is not really stable enough to want more and she doesn't win prizes for anything apart from being very pretty, if she doesn't snap at the judge! It is very interesting, Veterinari, to read about the physiology of neutering. I hope ddog will come out the other side well. I also thought it better to have a season so at least you have some idea of when the next one might come along. I have waited for our dogs to be physically mature before neutering.

blueskyinmarch Mon 06-Jun-16 09:27:21

My lab was spayed at 6 month and seemed much calmer afterwards, but maybe that would have happened anyway.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Mon 06-Jun-16 20:39:20

My friend had her lab spayed at six months and the growth plates obviously didn't keep growing in her, she's not very big at all.

Pogmella Mon 06-Jun-16 20:56:26

We got so much anecdotal stories from people, who were generally very passionate that we should DEFINITELY wait. These were dog owners and trainers.

The vet said he followed the BVA advice and advised us to do our own research. BVA state that there has been research/is reliable evidence that spaying at 6mo reduces cancer. There have not been sufficient longitudinal studies to state with the same confidence that it has risks associated with growth plates. They don't know, so on balance for now recommend 6mo.

The fact that he was open about not knowing but using what info was available convinced us.

Smurfit Thu 09-Jun-16 03:01:24

I was told by the vet that the 'one heat cycle before spaying' was a myth and that it was totally up to me. Personally, I didn't want to have to deal with a doggy period and a super fluffy dog. I also had no intentions of breeding her (even though she would have made beautiful teeny floofs). Thus I made the decision to spay her at 6mo (which was the earliest they would do it). I think if I'd left it any longer I would have felt even worse about it than I did at the time. I figured when she was younger then she's more likely to forget about it.

MalteserHound Thu 09-Jun-16 15:35:24

I've just booked our Ridgeback girl in for spaying next week. She is 13.5 months and no heat yet, but has definitely finished growing, only gained 0.3kg in the past 6m, and appears to be fully mature mentally. Vet had initially advised waiting until after first heat for a large breed, citing growth plates and general maturity, but said at this point there's nothing further to gain by waiting, so little point putting her through a heat cycle.
With our last Ridgeback (a dog) we waited until 18m before having him 'done' as he hadn't stopped growing until then and was obviously still puppyish and adolescent. We got him neutered when, having previously been fairly well behaved, he suddenly started running off after bitches and was becoming a hazard to himself and others.
It depends on the dog, even within breeds, and a good, open minded vet will be happy to examine the dog, discuss with you and decide a plan accordingly.

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