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Can You Spay a Dog in Heat?

Posted: 07/31/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Behavior , Dog , Pet care

It happens quite frequently: a pup parent has made an appointment to have their female dog spayed when suddenly, their pup is in heat. Typically a heat cycle lasts roughly 3 weeks, and many pup parents wonder can you spay a dog in heat or should you wait until the cycle has been completed?

In this blog post we’ll explore if it’s a good idea or even possible to spay a bitch in heat as well as cover some potential dangers.

Can You Spay a Dog in Heat?

Is it Possible to Spay a Dog in Heat?

The short answer is, yes, it is possible. But it’s not as simple as that.

There are potentially some serious risks of complications when spaying a dog who is in the middle of her heat cycle. Some veterinarians have experience doing so and are comfortable performing the procedure, but many will simply refuse to do so.

Your vet will need to consider the following in order to make the decision to spay now or wait:

  • The age of your pup
  • Her body condition (ie is she overweight?)
  • Current health condition/illnesses that may increase the risk (anemia, etc.)
  • Their own experience and surgery skills

There is a very good chance your vet will refuse to perform the spay and ask you to reschedule due to the dangers of complications.

The Dangers of Spaying a Dog in Heat

Spay surgery, where a vet essentially performs a hysterectomy on a female pup, is one of the most challenging surgeries they will ever perform. While it may be considered routine, it is a challenging procedure, made even more so when a dog is in heat.

The dangers lie in the fact that in heat, your pup’s reproductive organs are swollen with blood. Since blood supply to the uterus is increased, bleeding can happen far more easily.

In addition, tissues tend to be more fragile, potentially resulting in internal bleeding.

In general, it can be a very stressful surgery for the vet and the dog. Large breed dogs and those that are overweight are even more at risk.

Those surgeons with experience and confidence who agree to perform the surgery will usually charge more because of the increased surgery time and difficulty.

Can You Spay a Dog in Heat?

Making the Decision: To Spay or Not to Spay

How do you decide whether you should go ahead with the spay surgery or reschedule for after your dog’s heat cycle? You’ll need to honestly answer yourself these 2 questions:

How Much of a Risk is There of Your Dog Becoming Pregnant?

Considering the increased risk of spay surgery during heat, this is really the biggest question to ask yourself.  You’ll need to keep her away from intact males, which means she will need to be kept indoors most of the time and only let outside under strict supervision. Intact males have been known to jump and climb over fences, dig under fences, and travel miles to get to a female in heat. This is no joke. Your sweet girl will need to be kept safe and away during her fertile cycle.

If the risk of your pup becoming pregnant is high, then it may be better to spay while she is in heat, provided your vet is confident and has experience.

Can You and Your Family Handle the Heat Cycle?

Taking care of a pup who is in heat can be a challenge for some people. In addition to having to clean up spots of blood, females in heat can also exhibit… how should we say it… negative behavior. (I suppose the word “bitchy” came about for a reason.) Can you and your family handle cleanup and a possibly moody dog for a few weeks?

At What Age Do Most Pups Have Their First Heat?

Female dogs generally reach sexual maturity and have their first heat at around six months of age for small breeds. Large breeds may wait until they reach 2 months of age. Quite a difference. 

Traditionally, most vets recommended pup parents spay their female pups around 6 months to prevent unwanted pregnancies, uterine infection (pyometra) and mammary cancer (breast cancer). There has been new evidence, however, that shows some breeds benefit from delaying their spay surgery. Doing so may protect them against certain cancers, bone and joint disease and urinary continence.

Speak with your vet to see what they recommend for your fur baby.

How Long After Heat is it Safe to Spay a Dog?

Because there is such a risk of performing surgery while a female dog is in heat, many vets will ask their clients to reschedule the surgery appointment for 8 weeks out. This gives the pup’s blood vessels and tissues a chance to regain their pre-cycle state. 

Can Pet Insurance Help Cover the Cost of Spaying?

It depends entirely on the pet insurance. Spaying and neutering is considered an elective surgery, which means an accident & illness plan will not cover the costs of spaying. But thankfully many insurance providers offer add-on coverage in the form of wellness plans. 

If you’re looking for a comprehensive pet insurance plan to help you cover the cost of spaying your pup, take two minutes to get a free, customized quote.

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  1. “What Is the Best Age to Neuter or Spay Your Dog?”
  3. “Can animals in heat be spayed?”

The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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