To Spay or Not to Spay?

Q: “Hello, I have an English bulldog who is 9 months old. We took her to a vet for her puppy shots and they said I should get her spayed. My husband wants to breed her and thinks she should have babies. What is the best thing to do?”

A: Breeding dogs can be a very exciting process. Who wouldn’t want to see your adored and most loyal companion give you future generations of offspring to love? Imagining her roly-poly puppies wrestling together, running to you for cuddles, and watching them grow sounds picture perfect.

But before you decide if you want to leap into the world of canine midwifery, make sure you are aware of all the aspects involved.

First of all, is your dog a good candidate to breed? Does she (or he) show great breed standards? Check with a national breed club for common health conditions that should be screened for from a veterinarian, such as heart, eye and hip certification.

Some of these tests can only be done after 2 years of age. If unwanted traits are found (for example, hip dysplasia or other inherited conditions) then breeding is not advised.

Passing along these conditions can lead to a life of pain and discomfort in their offspring. Personality and temperament are just as important when deciding if breeding is a good idea. Before breeding have your pet checked for Brucella canis, an organism that can cause abortion and infertility in dogs.

Next consider the amount of time needed to dedicate to healthy puppy raising. The first few weeks of life are critical and round the clock care is needed. Making sure the puppies are adequately nursing, bottle feeding as needed, keeping the environment temperature suitable and clean, and making sure the puppies are socialized appropriately. Are you prepared to raise any puppies that do not have homes? It becomes a full-time job caring for mom and her babies. Before each puppy is sold, the state of Florida requires a certificate of veterinary inspection, vaccines and deworming.

Finally keep in mind the health risks to your sweet dog. Any dog can have complications during delivery, but some breeds are at higher risk. Financially you need to be prepared for a possible cesarean section or other health difficulties. Setting aside an emergency fund (usually a few thousand dollars) is very important. Also, not having your dog spayed can lead her to higher risk of developing serious conditions such as mammary neoplasia, emergency uterine infections or even uterine cancer.

If you are comfortable committing financially, doing much research on your dog’s breed, and spending a great deal of time in the process, then considering breeding may be a viable option for you. Otherwise, the best option may be to go ahead and spay your puppy to avoid some serious health risks.

Dr. Tiffany Beischel is a local licensed veterinarian who is happy to answer any questions you may have about your pets. Feel free to call her at (386) 663-3989. 

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