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"Gemma" - Chocolate Labrador for Emergency Spay


There are pros and cons to most decisions in life, and exactly the same applies to the decision to get your pet neutered (spayed or castrated). When owners of a young female dog are making this decision, it’s important that they understand these pros and cons to enable them to decide what is best for their pet.

There are some major advantages to having a bitch spayed (a procedure which involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries). If the procedure is done before the bitch has had her first season, the chance of her developing mammary cancer later in life is virtually completely eliminated.


If she is spayed after her first season but before approximately 2 years old, the chance of her developing such cancers is dramatically reduced but not fully eliminated.

The other major health advantage is the prevention of pyometra – a potentially life-threatening womb infection which commonly affects older unspayed bitches. If a pyometra develops, emergency hysterectomy must be performed, and poses greater anaesthetic risks than when a young, healthy bitch is routinely spayed.

Other advantages to spaying are the prevention of false pregnancies and – obviously – unwanted real pregnancies! And there will be no seasons, so owners will not need to spend 3 weeks out of every six months “seeing off” all the local amorous male dogs!

The potential down sides of spaying are that spayed bitches are more likely to develop urinary incontinence problems, and are more likely to gain weight. Both of these complications can be addressed – with medication for the former, and strict diet control for the latter!

Thus, although there are positives and negatives to spaying, the positives mean that common life threatening diseases can be prevented.

“Gemma” was recently presented to us with symptoms of a uterine infection (lethargy, vomiting, increased thirst and a vaginal discharge). She was anaesthetized and spayed as an emergency, and has fortunately gone on to make an excellent recovery. No wonder she’s smiling again!


Geraldine Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS.

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