Female dog sterilization: when, how and why. All the benefits.

Sterilizzazione cane femmina | Clinica La Veterinaria
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Female dog sterilization and its benefits: a routine procedure still questioned by many.

Although female dog sterilization is a relatively simple operation whose execution technique is more than widely proven, many people question not only the ethical and ethological issues underlying female dog sterilization but also any risks and real benefits involved.

The main purpose of female dog spaying operation in the first instance, is birth control but there are other very valid reasons to take into great consideration.

Why it is good to spay a female dog

Birth prevention is the main purpose for which sterilization of females is used.

However, many people are unaware that sterilization also prevents and averts some serious diseases:

Breast, uterine and ovarian cancers

Spayed females have a greatly reduced risk of developing cancers, which is common in bitches who have not undergone the procedure.

Prevention decreases as the number of heats increases, but at sterilization even at older ages can still decrease the risk of developing breast cancer.


It is a bacterial infection of the uterus that can be fatal if not diagnosed promptly. This type of infection usually affects adult bitches.

About 25 percent of unneutered bitches suffer from this condition before the age of 10 years.

If your bitch shows signs of depression, lethargy, anorexia, increased thirst, frequent urination, vaginal discharge, abdominal distension, vomiting or diarrhea but is not in heat, have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Imaginary or hysterical pregnancy

Hormonal changes occur in some dogs as a result of estrus that replicate a pregnancy in every way: increased abdominal volume, increased udder volume with milk production, and attitudes of anxiety and restlessness.

In some cases dogs “adopt” objects as if they were their own puppies.

Since when can a female dog be spayed: the first heat

Ideally, it is best to wait for physical maturity and thus, the bitch’s first heat although there is another school of thought that suggests performing female dog sterilization at prepubertal age i.e., before the first heat.

Recent studies would show, however, a predisposition to urinary incontinence: between 5 and 20 percent of early spayed females would suffer from estrogen-responsive incontinence due to reduced sphincter control.

How to recognize the heat of the female dog

Bitches usually reach sexual maturity between 6 and 8 months of age with an average of one oestrus or “heat” every 6 months for a total of two per year.

Each estrous cycle causes strong hormonal changes.

During heat some bitches may become very irritable, nervous or aggressive

These mood changes, which will cease after sterilization, are already an early warning of approaching heat.

Irritability is only a wake-up call to which other, far more obvious and explicit symptoms are also associated:

  • Swelling of the vulva
    The vulva is located below the anus. Before the bitch enters heat, this area begins to swell to three times its standard size and takes on a reddish color.
  • Blood loss
    The uterus becomes more receptive, and its tissues become irrigated with blood, which is filtered through the vulvar mucosa: thus, neither hemorrhage nor bleeding is involved, but simple vulvar “drainage.”
  • Licking
    The bloody discharge causes the dog to frequently lick the perianal and vulvar area in order to scrupulously clean herself.
  • Increased urination
    Urine is a marker and is used by females to communicate to male dogs that they are in heat. Frequent urination is precisely to attract them.

Timing and manner of spaying should always be agreed upon with your veterinarian: consulting him will help you make the best decision for your dog’s health and well-being.

Ovariectomy and ovarian hysterectomy

The surgery itself involves the animal’s abdominal cavity.

Technically, we talk about ovariectomy in the case of removal of only the ovaries.

If, however, ovaries and uterus are removed at the same time, the surgery is called ovarian-hysterectomy.

In both cases, this is a simple procedure that is well tolerated by the dog, but still requires general anesthesia.

How long is the convalescence after spaying the dog

As early as a few hours after surgery, the bitch resumes walking, and within the next 24 to 48 hours all her physiological functions return to normal.

In the postoperative phase, optimal wound healing must be ensured.

To prevent the dog from licking herself, it is a good idea to use an Elizabeth collar or cover the wound with a T-shirt.

Commonplaces and myths to dispel about female dog sterilization

  • Does spaying and neutering solve all of one’s dog’s behavioral problems?
    This type of surgery only reduces unwanted behaviors caused by hormonal changes that occur during heat.
  • Preventing dogs from having a sex life is NOT an act against nature
    Nature “forces” animals to mate in order to ensure species conservation. It is a mistake to anthropomorphize the dog by convincing ourselves that it has the same approach toward sex as humans.
  • Failure to engage in sexual activity does not result in females worrying that they cannot procreate, and in males, not even regretting that they cannot mate.
  • Should the bitch have at least one pregnancy in her lifetime?
    No: the rumor that the bitch should absolutely give birth at least once in her lifetime is not based on any scientifically reliable evidence. Having one, two or no litters is exactly the same thing.

If you want a litter from your bitch because you want her offspring, it is understandable that you would not have her spayed.

But if you reject the idea of sterilization on the grounds of her alleged mental and physical well-being, well, that is merely your selfish wish. Female dog sterilization is prevention.

The Staff of La Veterinaria Clinic is at your complete disposal for all your doubts and concerns: please do not hesitate to contact us.

Equipped with surgical room with state-of-the-art equipment, La Veterinaria Clinic is always open, every day h24 including holidays and with Emergency Room service from 8 pm to 8 am.

For the joy of seeing them HAPPY.

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