Why Your Bitch Should be Spayed

This article is addressed to all owners of bitches which are not yet spayed. While there has been a growing awareness of and acceptance of the desirability and necessity of spaying for most pet bitches, this needs to be extended to all pet bitches and to the majority of bitches currently used for breeding.


by Pam Green (copyright 1994)

This article is addressed to all owners of bitches which are not yet spayed. While there has been a growing awareness of and acceptance of the desirability and necessity of spaying for most pet bitches, this needs to be extended to all pet bitches and to the majority of bitches currently used for breeding.


Breathes there a man with soul so dead that he has no compassion for all the innocent and unfortunate dogs (and cats) who are murdered daily in this nations pounds and "shelters" because the supply of sound temperamented , sweet natured, healthy, and totally adoption-worthy dogs (and cats) so vastly out-numbers the responsible adoptive homes ???

I challenge you to visit your local pound or humane "shelter" today, meet each dog and pet and play with it, and make notes of the special qualities of each individual. Be sure to make special note of how many puppies (and kittens) are there. Then return a week later to learn which of these dogs were lucky enough to be adopted and which were "euthanized" = killed because no one adopted them. Ask the pound staff how many nice adoptable dogs and cats they had to kill during the past year ?. How many puppies and kittens ? You might also ask what their percentage of compliance with their spay / neuter requirement has been this year?

By any measure the toll of unnescessary death is appalling !!! Each of those murdered misbegotten mutt puppies and adults were whelped by someone's unspayed bitch, often someone's purebred unspayed bitch.. And definitely each of the many murdered purebred dogs was whelped by someone's purebred unspayed bitch, too often by someone's beauty "champion" bitch.

So don't tell yourself that your bitch isn't part of the problem. As long as she is not spayed has the potential to conceive an accidental litter of death row puppies. You can no more effectively tell your neighbors' male dogs, "Always wear a rubber !" than you can tell your bitch "If you can't be good, be careful !" Dogs do get loose, despite their owners' best intentions and best precautions, and it only takes a few minutes of freedom for an in heat bitch to attract and be bred by a roaming male. And there is , so far , no genuinely safe injectable or implantable female dog long term contraceptive. There is so far no truly safe miss-mate shot or abortificant, other than the French abortion pill RU 486 ("Mifegyne" (mifepristone)), which was originally developed and tested on dogs.

Also don't tell yourself that your bitch is such a super dog that the breed desperately needs her genes, transmitted by lawful mating with an even more excellent stud of her own breed. Unless she has veterinary clearance for the various genetic health problems that may afflict her breed (eg hip dysplasia, heritable eye problems, various heritable bleeding disorders, etc etc) and has earned those obedience and working (eg herding, tracking, hunting, or other) titles that are appropriate to his breed, she is definitely NOT a breeding candidate. And don't expect easy sales or big prices for the pups unless both sire and dam are also "champion" (beauty show title). If you breed, can you ensure that the resulting puppies are sold or otherwise entrusted only to people who will provide a responsible home for the pup's entire lifetime? Are you willing to accept any or all of the puppies back into your home (or otherwise provide foster care, rehabilitation, and adoption) whenever, at any point during their lifetimes, their homes prove irresponsible or incapable ? Are you ready for that midnight phone call "We just can't keep him any longer. If you can't take him right away, we'll just have to take him to the Pound."

Spayed means never having to say you're sorry.


While some parents think their children ought to witness the "miracle of birth" by seeing a litter born (which may well include the "miracle" of stillborn puppies, of a Caesarian section , or of your beloved bitch dying, possibly dying in agony), isn't it really more important that your children learn about the RESPONSIBILITIES of parenthood and learn to appreciate the "miracle of birth prevention" ??? Let's face it, while in the canine and feline species sex almost invariably results in birth, most human sex is NOT so intended and had better NOT result in any birth. Your kids need to know that birth = parenthood = serious responsibility. Whether you believe in abstinence or in contraception, you surely want your kids to understand that it is immoral and irresponsible to create a life unless they intend to fulfill parental responsibility to raise, educate, and cherish that life. You can present your decision to neuter and spay your pets as either a means of ensured abstinence or as a means of ensured contraception. Either way it's a message to them not to cause or risk an unwanted creation of life, be that life canine, feline, or human.

If you really want your children to see the birth of a litter, ask your vet to loan you a videotape. Or ask a friend to loan you her home video of her human baby's birth if you don't have a video of your own child's birth.


If you obtained your pet form a responsible breeder, your purchase contract almost certainly contains a spay / neuter promise. These promises are legally enforceable, and a serious breeder just might take you to court for non-compliance. If you obtained your pet from a pound, shelter, or a breed rescue, then it is a certainty that your contract includes a promise to spay or neuter. In many counties , the promise to the pound or shelter can be enforced by a painfully large fine and by re-posession of the dog. Rescuers will reclaim the dog if not promptly altered. (Update : in some states, it is now legally required that all dogs or cats adopted out of Animal Control must be spayed / neutered before the adopter gets possession of the pet. That's the right way to do it ! Likewise , almost all Rescue organizations will have the spay or neuter done before placing the dog.)

Besides, you know perfectly well that breaking a promise is not an honorable thing to do. Your self-respect should ensure your compliance. (And , once again, you are seting an example for your children about keeping a promise.)


For an intact bitch , the extreme hormonal swings every six months or so probably feels very much like alternately going through puberty and going through menopause. Remember the joys of puberty? It was hell, wasn't it? If you haven't experienced menopause yet, ask your mother. Not an experience of great delight.. At the least, your bitch is likely to experience some degree of "PMS" --- why do you think men call women with PMS "bitchy" ? There's many a bitch who obviously act extremely "flakey" or "weird" or just "not herself" during the period just before, during, and after her heat. This is especially evident in working bitches, who often work somewhat less well or very much less well at these times. Some bitches who normally dwell in peace and harmony with other canine housemates, become belligerent towards other bitches in the home whenever one or the other is in heat. Serious fights or permanent deterioration in the relationship may result. Finally, it is not uncommon for a heat period to be followed by a "false pregnancy", in which the bitch goes through some or all of the behavioral changes normal to pregnancy, birth, and pup rearing. In the wild, false pregnancy by other bitches in the pack probably serves the valuable role of providing foster mothering for the pups if the actual mother, the alpha bitch, should be unable to care for them. In our homes, it is at best a damn nuisance.


Although we mostly think of roaming in search of romance as something male dogs do, the females are not immune to the lure of lust.

A normally stay-at-home bitch, when in heat and subject to the call of lust, may leave home in search of a mate. She may well find herself inspired to climb tall fences, or dig beneath them, or to break through doors and windows of the house, and go a-roaming. In an urban environment, such excursions often result in severe injury or death from close encounters of the automotive vehicular kind. In a rural environment, while cars are fewer, sheep and cattle ranchers armed with rifles and shotguns and eager to shoot all stray dogs as menaces to livestock .

Even if she does not meet with an injury or death on her roamings, she will certainly soon meet with an intact male and so become pregnant with a cross-bred litter whose prospects for successful adoption and lifetime care are much less than that of a well bred purebred litter. Raising a cross-bred litter is just as expensive as raising a purebred litter , but don't expect people to beat a path to your door to buy the puppies.

The spayed bitch is spared the risk of such lust inspired excursions.


The intact bitch is subject to a number of ailments which do not afflict the spayed bitch. Ask your vet about or read up on pyometria , breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. All very unpleasant and frequently lethal. Additionally, dogs are subject to venereally transmitted diseases. The principal one is Brucellosis, which causes abortion and will render your bitch sterile and cause sterility in any male she mates. It can also make her horribly ill or even kill her.

Spaying before 1st heat will almost totally eliminate any risk of breast cancer. Later spaying reduces the risk, but not as dramatically. Spaying at any age will end the risk of pyometria, as well as uterine or ovarian cancer.

The only known ill effect of spaying is that sometimes an older spayed bitch will experience mild leaking of urine, mostly during sleep. But this is easily and inexpensively treated by a drug called PPA (= phenykpropanolamine) , a safe and inexpensive drug.

In conclusion, I hope you will choose to spay your bitch, preferably prior to her first heat, both for the sake of her own health and happiness and for the sake of reducing the needless tragedy of pet deaths due to pet overpopulation.


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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 1994 revised 8/6/03
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