What happens when a dog gets spayed?
January 09, 2020
We finally decided to have Betty spayed over the Christmas period. Not a great present for her! Although it is a routine procedure you always tend to think the worst - or I do at least! We left it until she was a bit older for a few reasons. One reason is that I’m a serial procrastinator and can’t make decisions. Another reason was Betty had to have stomach surgery when she was a puppy so we felt bad having her go through it all again so soon.
What age is best to have your bitch spayed?
There’s a lot of conflicting advice on when you should have your bitch spayed. This is because it depends on your dog and you and the situation you are in. You might have other male dogs in your family that are not neutered and you want to avoid your puppy getting pregnant at such an early age, for example. On the other hand, you might have visions of you and your puppy on the podium at a dog show. In that case, you may want to spay later to ensure your dog fully develops. Although there is some advice to the contrary, it’s safe to say you can get the most health benefits by spaying before they reach sexual maturity - so before their first season. In our situation where Betty had undergone stomach surgery and was close to her first season, we just felt on balance it was worth waiting a bit until Betty had fully developed before proceeding with the spay. Betty had 3 seasons and was almost 2 years old. You’ll have to decide yourself depending on your circumstances and after discussing it with your vet.
Should you have your bitch spayed?
When deciding if we should spay Betty we weighed up the fact that we wouldn’t have time to dedicate to her having puppies in the foreseeable future. Also, we knew of the health benefits such as a reduced risk of breast tumours, elimination of some diseases and a reduction in unwanted sexual behaviour. We didn’t care about other issues such as mess from blood spots when she was in season, so that didn’t enter into the decision for us. I’d say if you don’t think you’ll want puppies, get it done. The benefits will outweigh other considerations such as the cost over the 10-15 years you’ll be together.
One worry people have is around personality changes due to spaying. There’s nothing to worry about in this regard. There will be some changes, but mainly around sexual behaviours such as roaming, urine marking (weeing tiny amounts every few steps on a walk), some aggression and the humping of legs. Betty wasn’t aggressive but had developed into a serial humper - so any reduction in this area would be very welcome! Any personality changes will be temporary while they recover from the surgery.
As an update, a couple of months on from Betty’s spay, she still does her urine marking on walks and the humping has resumed. I’m starting to wonder if they forgot to take her bits out! I assume this is because we had her spayed later on and these behaviours are now set in.
How much does it cost to have your bitch spayed?
The cost of spaying Betty was £226 - so nothing extortionate. Especially considering the procedure should prevent health problems and the associated costs later on in life. The only real negatives for spaying was the small risk of complications during surgery and the short-term downtime due to recovery. There are more complex options when spaying. Some vets may offer keyhole surgery. It has a better recovery time, smaller incision wound but costs more.
As an update, Betty did have a complication after surgery. She developed a small hernia that will require corrective surgery at some point. This has probably happened when she was recovering. We tried our best to keep her quiet and calm but she is a very excitable dog!
How long does it take to recover after a spay?
We booked Betty in on 2nd January as we would be off work for the rest of that week due to the Christmas break. In addition to that, we arranged time off to be at home with Betty up until her 5-day post-operation checkup. You don’t need that much time, though. Ideally, they just need constant supervision the first day or so after surgery. For us, the operation just coincided with the holidays. After a few days, they should be back to normal although still needing plenty of rest. It is also important to note that the recovery period is not linear. One day they make seem back to normal and the next they’ll be sleepy and quiet. Give it 10 days and they’ll be back to normal.
Collecting your dog after surgery
When we picked Betty up she was very drowsy still from the anaesthetic and pain medication. We got her home in the car and straight to bed. You’ll need to take someone with you to help get your puppy home. We elected for a baby-grow rather than a cone to stop her getting at the stitches, but that turned out to be a mistake. Due to her breed’s strange shape, the baby-grow didn’t fit and she kept getting her legs caught inside somehow. We ditched the baby-grow and used an old t-shirt instead and just monitored her. We had a spare cone we’d bought from Amazon as well as a fallback. She didn’t sleep much that night, instead, she just took to standing, gazing at things with her spaced-out eyes. She spent about 20 minutes looking at the lamp. God knows what her drugged up mind could see there!
The next day I was surprised to find her almost back to her old self. She was bringing the ball to me and dropping it in my lap. She even attempted a zoomy in the bedroom but that was a bit too much for her. She slept most of the day then. We did start to worry because she hadn’t gone to the toilet since we brought her home the day before. She was eating and drinking fine, though. She went about 26 hours before finally relieving herself and us! This is something that can happen after surgery. She eventually got back into a regular toilet routine again.
Two days after she wasn’t as bright as the day before and she was like this for a few days. She looked depressed, lethargic and tired. She was still interested in food and water, though - so that made us feel better. After a couple more days the old Betty was back in business.
We used an old t-shirt to stop Betty from licking her wound. This gave her a break from the dreaded cone she hates.
So, if you’re having your puppy spayed the key takeaways from our recent experience would be.
- If you’re not breeding her, get her spayed.
- Expect to feel bad while she’s in there, but it’ll all be worth it.
- Expect her to act strangely while the anaesthetic wears off.
- Her normal toilet habits will be up the wall. You might even have some indoor accidents.
- Her recovery might not be linear. She may seem great one day only to be sleepy the next.
- She’ll soon be back to normal