Tips for dog in heat


New Member
Hi, All:

Just some information to consider: continued exposure to estrogen through repeated heat cycles creates a serious risk of mammary cancer, added to the risk of pyometra that is a risk with each heat cycle.

Research seems to support the fact that female dogs desexed before their first heat cycle have a less than 1% chance of developing breast cancer, while experiencing a single cycle increases risk to 4.5%. A second cycle increases risk to over 8%, and if the animal is neutered after age 2.5 yrs, the protective effect of the operation in lost.

Yes, it is "natural" for female dogs to have all their reproductive parts intact, but it is not natural for dogs to live to very old age, as we all hope out beloved pets will. It is pretty unusual to see very old unneutered female dogs at the practice where I work. But we do perform a lot of mastectomies on 10 and 12 year old unspayed bitches, not to mention the pyometra surgeries. (Not all breast tumors are cancerous, some are benign, but if they are malignant, they rapidly spread to the lungs, often before medical treatment is sought.)

Nutritional needs do not actually change except for the fact that caloric level needs decrease. If the caloric load of the diet does not change, dogs will gain weight. Some researchers feel that estrogen also has an effect on the bitch's ability to feel satiated after the appropriate number of calories have been eaten, so that spayed females may tend to eat more if offered more.

If anyone is undecided about breeding, please do not delay the decision more than a couple of years, so that you can spay while there is still some protective effect against breast cancer.

Each pet owner must make their own decision regarding whether or not to neuter, but I hope that that decision will be an informed one. There are so many homeless dogs in the world that new litters should not be produced unless that litter will contribute to the real improvement of the breed in temperament and health. Just another pretty face or because it would be fun to raise a litter are not good enough reasons when rescue groups are overwhelmed with dogs in need.