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My puppy Bailey is 4 1/2 months old. I was all set to have her spayed this Thursday, but then started to have second thoughts, did some research and now I'm not sure what to do.

She is an *awesome* little dog and I don't want to do anything that might harm her or change her.

How real is the risk that she will develop urinary incontinence due to being spayed? Will it be better for her if we wait until she has had a few female cycles first before spaying, or is it better to do it now at such a young age?

Also, if I choose to wait, will there be signs that she is in heat before she is actually fertile?

I'm asking because her brother lives next door and he is mostly an outside dog now. The other morning I was out with her, on leash, and he came over - we live in a mobile home park with no fenced-in yards. I let them play for a minute and he tried to mount her. My neighbor, who gave Bailey to us, is always asking if Bailey can come to her house and play for a while. It just dawned on me after he tried to mount her that this might soon be a concern.
 

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Your dog is a little young to be spayed (usually it's around 6 months), but I completely endorse spaying a pet. Unspayed females are more prone to getting mammary cancer, you have to watch them like a hawk when they're in season, and it's messy. Many also act "bitchy" when in season - not much fun. Urinary incontinence is a possibility, but I've never had a dog that had it, thank goodness.
 

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she probably wont go into heat till she is over 6 months, mounting/humping doesn't always have to do with breeding. If you do a search you will find lots on that already here on the forum

Spaying before heat is a beter option. I wait till 6 months on small dogs, or over a year on bigger dogs. It has more to do with growth for me, than heat cycles.

I hope that made since, the right words are not comming to me right now X(
 

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A first-heat pregnancy is riskier than any possible side effects of spaying too young. So unless you're 100% sure you can keep her away from intact males for a full month, go ahead with spaying before first heat. Although I would probably wait until she's 6-7 months old instead of doing it now (depending how big she is). Living in a trailer court (which tend to have a denser concentration of irresponsible owners), this is something to consider.

There's conflicting info on how common spay incontinence is, and how age at time of spay affects the numbers. My first dog was spayed at 6 months and had it. Some studies say that spaying any time after 3 months carries the same chances, others say that spaying after 3 months but before first heat decreases the chances, and other say that spaying after first heat decreases the chances. Hard to say, really. But the female urinary system is a delicate thing no matter what--ask your mom/grandma :p.

Every time she goes into heat, her chances of mammary cancer and pyo increase. Allowing one heat, maybe two, probably won't increase those chances by much, and would allow her body to develop fully. But again--ONLY if you're 100% sure you can keep her away from intact boys.
 

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I would do around 6 months old if she is a small dog. 4.5 months seems too early. If she is a big dog like a lab, etc, then wait until over a year. Big dogs develop more slowly so they need their parts to keep developing.
 

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Personally, I wouldn't spay a bitch until she's at least passed her first heat.
Little as she is, and you keeping her on a leash, it shouldn't be difficult to supervise her during this time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you everyone! I'll wait until she is older.

Personally, I wouldn't spay a bitch until she's at least passed her first heat.
Little as she is, and you keeping her on a leash, it shouldn't be difficult to supervise her during this time.
Can you tell me why you feel she should have her first heat? I've heard both, that it's best to do it before first heat, and to wait until at least one or a few. I'm fine with waiting if that is what's best for her.

Thanks!
 

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Because the first heat is the signal for the growth plates to close and it will ensure she doesn't have recessed vulva and reduce her chances of severe urinary issues and incontenence. It also reduces the chance of hermangiosarcoma, a cancer that is nearly always fatal (mammary cancer and ovarian cancer are far more survivable). I think every dog owner should read this before deciding what age to S/N.

An excerpt:

On the positive side, spaying female dogs



if done before 2.5 years of age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors, the most common

malignant tumors in female dogs



nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, which otherwise would affect about 23% of intact female

dogs; pyometra kills about 1% of intact female dogs



reduces the risk of perianal fistulas



removes the very small risk (0.5%) from uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors

On the negative side, spaying female dogs



if done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a

common cancer in larger breeds with a poor prognosis



increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 2.2 and cardiac hemangiosarcoma by

a factor of >5; this is a common cancer and major cause of death in some breeds



triples the risk of hypothyroidism



increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6-2, a common health problem in dogs with many

associated health problems



causes urinary “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of female dogs



increases the risk of persistent or recurring urinary tract infections by a factor of 3-4



increases the risk of recessed vulva, vaginal dermatitis, and vaginitis, especially for female dogs

spayed before puberty



doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract tumors



increases the risk of orthopedic disorders



increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations
 

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increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 2.2 and cardiac hemangiosarcoma by

a factor of >5; this is a common cancer and major cause of death in some breeds
A couple of small spaniel breeds are notably in that group for those with spaniel or spaniel mixes. However Cockers and Cavaliers are also noted for being susceptible to earlier pyometra. With regard to this decision (time to spay) one really needs to look at the make up of their individual dog, and then it will still be a juggling act as there is just not a way to totally eliminate the risks.

SOB
 

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Our Chi-mix, who is 7 months old, was spayed last week. We were required to do this per our adoption/rescue agreement. She's doing fine so far and is already back to her usual high energy level. There aren't any signs of urinary problems but I suppose it's still early. She'll get her stitches out early next week and she's left them alone.
 

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If there is any chance that you cannot keep her supervised (like on a leash within easy reach...not loose in yard or tied up when you are 20 feet away), then spay soon. The risk of an unwanted preg is high, and an emergency spay is more expensive and riskier than a scheduled spay. An unwanted preg is worse than any minimal risks of a young spay.
 
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