Birds and Bees - Yikes!
This is the time of year that I begin to see new puppies and kittens in the clinic. It makes my job so much fun! It is also when I give my daily speech about spaying and neutering.
Female cats are seasonal for the most part and begin to cycle as the days get longer. She will begin to cycle at the age of 6 months and can stay “in heat” for weeks on end, until she breeds. This allows a much longer opportunity for a female to get pregnant by a tom cat. She can even cycle again while nursing a litter, allowing for multiple litters in 1 year.
Dogs, however, do not cycle this way. The average dog will cycle every 6 months, with bleeding and vulvar swelling. What you may not know is that the “in heat” stage can last 2-4 weeks. Depending on the breed of dog, she can start cycling at 6 months of age. Many people believe that, because the dog is not bleeding, she is not “in heat” and therefore cannot get pregnant. Actually, during the bleeding phase is when she is generally not receptive to the male. The vulva will swell, and when she is not having a bloody discharge, for about 2 weeks, the female can be mated. There is no “mismate” shot or “morning after pill” that we recommend if she does get bred.
A dog or cat can be spayed while in heat or pregnant but there is more of a surgical risk due to blood vessel engorgement. We spay and neuter as young as 4 months of age before the risk of a heat cycle or breeding interest. The benefits of spaying before her first heat cycle include less chance of hemorrhage during surgery, the cost is less due to smaller size of dog, there is a faster recovery time after surgery and no unwanted puppies or kittens.
Call the office if you have any questions regarding spaying and neutering.