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Spay 10 year old dog?

Species: Dog
Breed: Belgian tervuren
Age: 8-11 years

I adopted a Belgian tervuren 10 months ago. She was already
10 years old, so after much consideration, I decided to leave her intact, as I felt at this point spaying would be too much for her; and she was pretty emaciated when I got her.

Anyway, she is extremely healthy now, and my question is,
Is it very hard on the female not to get pregnant.? Have a male, I mean, attach. Does the female get sexually frustrated if no mating occurs. is she depressed? She was not really acting too much different, 7 months ago when she had her heat.
(this was 2 months after I got her, and the first heat she had with me. She was still not totally up to her proper weight). This is her 2nd heat since I got her and she is so much stronger and healthier now. She is really showing signs of wanting to breed. Lots and Lots of flagging. She is quiet and moody, not as much "with it" as normal. So that is my question, basically is it very stressful for her to keep going through this? I have never had an intact dog , so I just do not know a real lot about this--. I look forward to hearing back from you, and I hope you can answer fairly soon. Thank you so much. Diane Widdifield

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Interesting question! I don't know that anyone can answer this question with certainty. But, I do believe that it is frustrating for a female to be in heat and not breed. With that being said, letting her breed would obviously not be a good thing. We wouldn't want her to get pregnant at 10 years of age.

Should a 10 year old dog be spayed? This is a tough decision. There are pros and cons. There still is some benefit to getting her spayed. Each time she goes through a heat and does not get pregnant she is at risk for developing something called a pyometra. This is an infection in the uterus that is really serious. If this happens then surgery is needed and this surgery is much more expensive and complicated than a regular spay. The risk of pyometra is much larger with an older dog.

The decision on whether or not to spay is one that you should probably discuss with your vet. If your dog is healthy and has normal bloodwork then in my opinion, spaying her is a good idea. Dogs recover very quickly from a spay surgery, even if they are older, provided they are in good health.

It's not an easy decision but I would definitely lean towards having her spayed.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for answering my question. I thought I would ask you first. Would you mind answering a further question, regarding my decision of not having her spayed.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Go apologies for the delay. I'm on vacation with my family and only checking in online occasionally.

Customer reply:

Thank you. I just thought another opinion on all I am going to say would help. Thank you so much again.

When I adopted Bailee,
l Thought long and hard, and did a real lot of reading on making this decision to have her spayed or not at this point in her life. I just concluded that at her age it would not be right to take her organs away after she has gone this long with them, and she is so so strong in body, now that I had brought her back to her proper weight and health. But I still was not completely sure I had made the right decision. Then she went into heat, for the first time that I had her. So it was sort of like she made the decision for me, at that point. Also it did seem to make her stronger, like I have read. Believe me, I went back and forth a real lot, on the decision to have her spayed her or not; and I feel I was pretty well informed on the pros and cons.

The blood panel she had done said that she was extremely healthy, the results were that of a much younger dog. The vet said a very healthy immune system should keep any infection from developing. She is German and they do not spay the dogs there as much; and she, of course, knew how hard this decision was on me. But again, it has to be my decision. I have to make the right one for my individual dog. I had also just lost my precious dog from hemangiosarcoma, which as you know happens to dogs more often that have been spayed at a young age. Also I am worried about my currant dogs joints and hips and bones in general getting weak; and incontinence. As my other dog had all of those problems throughout her life (hip dysplasia and weak bones I mean) The question is: do you believe that a very healthy dog like this would have a better chance of Not getting the desease?- Like we have about the same odds of getting certain types of cancers; but we must just sty as healthy as we can. I am just confused now, and it has obviously come up in my mind again, since she is in heat again, whether or not my decision was absolutely the right one. I am also just frightened to death about the procedure and recovery at her age. So if you would give your comments and opinion on all this; I would be really appreciate it. It occupies my mind a lot of the time. I am extremely close to this dog, as I was to my dog that died. I thank you in advance for you time, again, in this matter, and reading my rather long replay.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome. When you ask whether a healthy dog is less likely to get "the disease" I'm not sure if you're referring to hemangiosarcoma or pyometra, so I'll address both issues.

Regarding pyometra, I don't think the dog's health status would make pyometra more or less healthy. I have seen many healthy dogs that ended up with pyometra. This is a type of situation though where you would need a crystal ball in order to be able to say whether your dog will get pyometra. Unfortunately no one knows.

In regards to hemangiosarcoma you mentioned that dogs that are spayed early are more likely to get it. While there are some studies that look at this type of thing, there are no really large studies that I am aware of. There is a recent one where researchers looked at Golden Retrievers and Labs and concluded that dogs of these breeds that were spayed later than 6 months of age were more likely to get cancer. However, Golden Retrievers as a breed are more likely to get cancer and as such we can't extrapolate those results to another breed. I'm not sure if anyone has looked at how likely hemangiosarcoma is vs pyometra. It's a tough call, but ultimately it's your decision. I would really trust your vet's input when you're making this decision.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.