Small Animal

Speying bitches

We recommend all bitches are speyed if you are not planning breeding. The medical advantages outweigh, in our view, the potential risks and side effects.

Speying a bitch involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries through a midline incision. Your bitch will need to come into the surgery for the day and will be given general anaesthetic. Most bitches will be able to go home on the same day, but this is an abdominal surgery and some individuals may require hospitalisation overnight for pain relief or observation.

The price of spaying includes pain relief at home for three days following the procedure as we believe this is necessary for a comfortable and smooth recovery.

Following speying, your bitch will require lead restriction for about 10 days. Jumping and running should be avoided as this puts pressure on the wound in the body wall and can lead to swellings and sometimes stitches may burst.

Timing of Speying

We recommend a bitch should be allowed to have her first season before speying for normal maturation to occur. However, should you have reasons to spey before this, such as difficulties preventing inappropriate breeding, we will do this for you.

Some vets advocate early speying in all cases, as there may be a greater effect on the prevention of mammary cancer. However, there may also be a greater risk of incontinence and immature genitalia.  

A bitch should not be speyed when in season. There are significantly increased risks of surgical complications, especially intra-operative bleeding.

There should be a delay of 2-3 months following the end of a season before speying. This is to allow the normal hormonal changes following a season which cause phantom pregnancy to subside. If speyed in this period, persistent signs of phantom pregnancy can develop such as lactation and behavioural changes.

Obesity increases the difficulty of speying and increases the risk of complications. We will sometimes recommend weight loss before speying.

Reasons for Speying

Breeding Control - Prevention of unwanted litters of puppies. This also prevents the bitch going through a season every 6 month (on average) followed by a phantom pregnancy, which sometimes causes the dog a degree of misery.

Medical - Speying prevents the development of pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus in which it fill with pus. Speying is usually curative, but we are then operating on a seriously ill animal. Occasionally, pyometra causes severe kidney damage. Speying also greatly reduces the incidence of mammary cancer, especially if carried out early in life.

Side Effects and Risks

Anaesthetic risks - There is a risk with any general anaesthetic, but this is very small with modern anaesthetics.

Surgical complications - Speying is a fairly major procedure involving entry into a body cavity and tying off blood vessels capable of significant haemorrhage. Occasionally, control of bleeding is tricky and slippage of ligatures can occur. The risks are higher in overweight bitches. The abdominal wound can suffer swellings or occasionally rupture, especially when exercise is not controlled following the procedure.

Urinary incontinence - The incidence of urinary incontinence is significantly higher in speyed bitches. This is usually delayed until old age, but sometimes occurs soon after speying. This can nearly always be controlled with medication. Occasionally speying will unmask a pre-existing problem.

Weight gain - Speying can reduce the food intake and activity levels in a bitch. If diet is not adjusted occordingly, weight gain occur. We recommend keeping a close eye on your bitch's weight in the months following speying and adjustment of the diet if it has an upward trend.