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Two Spay Related Questions

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I just had my two year and three month old bitch spayed today. I have two questions that came to mind while I was reading a post of AK Doc Dog's on another thread ("That Time . .", etc):


Jen had one silent heat, then three full cycles, then had just started going into heat today again just five weeks after her last cycle. Is she at the same increased risk for mammarian cancer as a bitch that had gone through the equivalent number of heats on a more normal four to six-month cycle? Or is it even worse possibly since this was an abnormal situation? She had no significant physical changes yet on this last cycle - today had to be day one - I could tell though because she peed buckets and my males were clickety-clacking and my guard dogs were showing up on my doorstep (they're next!).


The other thing - AK Doc Dog mentioned something I'd never heard before, having even had a few "in-heat" spays done to rescues here - that the bitch would continue to act receptive after the surgery. Is this less likely to happen with Jen, since we did catch her early in the cycle? If it does happen, will she be all right after the ten days of recovery even though that would normally be just about the start of her standing heat? I have a neutered male that WILL try to mount her and has been successful at tying even (yes, indeed!). She'll be completely crate rested for the next ten days but after that, how much caution is necessary?


Thanks! Jen is sulking at present but I expect she'll be feeling pretty uppity in the morning!

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As far as the cancer risk in a bitch with "unusual" cycles, that's hard to judge, since I'm not sure how or if her hormone array was different from usual. Even maxium risk for mammary cancer doesn't mean "guaranteed mammary cancer"; it just means that after a certain point the risk no longer increases as a result of being intact. And certainly there are plenty of older bitches who were spayed after 3 who do NOT get mammary cancer. It's just that in those spayed prior to the first heat, mammary cnacer is exceedingly rare, while it is not uncommon in those spayed later. As a BTW, in those bitches who DO get mammary cancer, those who are spayed have a better survival, even if spayed at the time of diagnosing the mammary cancer. One of our vets went to a meeting recently where the oncologist said that if you only address the mammary tumor and do NOT also spay, most of those dogs are dead within the year (can't recall the exact #s, but I beleive it was WELL over half). Also, bear in mind that all malignacies are not the same, and some are quite curable. Others not so much. And one last point: "tumor" does not = "malignacy"; there are benign tumors as well, and in dogs about half of mammary tumors are benign (amongst the others, unfortunately, a percentage are VERY bad actors; others are fairly easy-going).


As for the standing heat question - a bitch spayed during her heat MAY stand for breeding - not WILL stand for breeding. The risk of that is highest right after the spay, before her hormones have faded out of the system. Once her ovaries are gone, she's not proceeding with the rest of the heat cycle since she's not getting those nice ovarian hormones racing around telling her, "Hey, you're fertile now, so GO for it!" However, if your dog was at the beginning of her heat, unless she's an unusual dog who ovulates right off the bat (average day of ovulation is day 9), she wasn't yet in standing heat anyway, so she shouldn't be interested in standing for a breeding. Now that her ovaries are gone, that should not proceed. In addition, the risk of a breeding is that it might rupture the ligatures on the uterine stump, where there are a couple of nice big arteries. Ten days after the surgery, those should be pretty well scarred off for good, even though the suture will still be in place. So at that stage, risk of death from internal bleeding would be essentially nil, unless there's something VERY unusual about her healing. A breeding might be uncomfortable for her, but it would be unlikely to be fatal. We've only had that happen once at our clinic - a bitch in standing heat was spayed and bred (the same day, I think) and bled to death. It was horrible, but it isn't common - in part because we tell people not to let that happen, but in part because not all in-heat spays are in-STANDING-heat spays, if that makes sense. The reason I mentioned this to Madison's Mommy was that it sounds as if Madison might be mid-heat, which puts her a LOT closer to the date of ovulation (if she does the average - they certainly CAN ovulate on day 1 or day 21, or any day in between.)


Gotta get to work here...

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