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Hi all! I just got my toy poodle several months and she recently turned 7 months. I have her signed up for a spay procedure at the local humane society clinic in 1 months time and I believe she is nearing heat, as a lady at the park pointed out her dog was showing high interest in her which meant she would be in heat very soon. At first I was unquestioned about spaying her since this seems to be the consensus in the USA that this is best for the dog in terms of long term health and happiness. However, when I read about the procedure I started to get concerned about the possible side effects of removing the source of important hormones entirely. I've read some articles online about vets claiming spaying can have irreversible health damage, and others that claim that your pet has a high risk of getting cancer if not spayed. I just want whats best for my dog - I don't mind dealing with the heat a couple times a year if she's happier and healthier that way, but she's also very small so even if I did want to have puppies it would be unlikely I'd even find a mate that is small enough for her and I'm not sure if its a good idea to leave her intact if the prospect of mating is unlikely.

Does anyone have a perspective on the best effects given genetic dispositions and constitutions of toy poodles? Is it more beneficial to leave them intact or spay them? Should I try to find a vet that will leave her ovaries intact if I do sterilize her? Should I wait a while longer or do it next month to get the full cancer prevention benefits?
 

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Welcome to the forum. We strongly encourage new members to post in the new member section to properly introduce themselves and their dogs.

Good for you for doing your research. Research is not entirely conclusive at this point so it is up to owners to make decisions that are responsible. At 8 months she is probably done growing considering she's a toy poodle. If you want to be 100% sure you could wait until after her first heat. There is no evidence for toy breeds to suggest that spaying after maturity is unhealthy, though I would not say there is enough research to say that conclusively. There are benefits to the procedure such as reduced risk of mammary cancer and elimination of risk of pyometra. Also dealing with a dog in heat for two months of the year is not easy for most owners.

Ovary sparing spay (OSS) is an option if you can get to a vet that is able to perform the procedure. I believe the Parsemus Foundation has a list of vets that will do it. The downside to this is that they will still go into heat, but at least they will not have any discharge to deal with. However, you must still take care that they are not able to breed because it could be damaging for them.

Breeding is probably not something you want to consider, as it is irresponsible to do without completing the recommended health testing ($$$), and it can also potentially endanger the mother dog. The average person doesn't have the time or money to breed responsibly.

If I had a 7 month old female poodle, I would either go with OSS or wait until after her first heat and spay her (assuming I could responsibly keep her away from males during the heat). OSS has some good benefits, but if you think you might ever have a male dog (or live with somebody who does) you may want to opt for traditional spay instead, as dealing with males & females during a heat requires quite a bit of commitment.
 

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Welcome!

Good points made by Raindrops. My one suggestion to you would be to make sure your girl is being spayed by the best possible vet you can reasonably afford, especially because she's so tiny. Not sure if the Humane Society falls under this category, but our vet warned us about local low cost spay clinics. She believes they come with an additional risk of surgical complications, such as pyometra.
 

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Hi

If you proceed with comparing prices on spay costs at different clinics, remember to get apples to apples quotes.

They should cover

pre surgery labs,

the type of anesthesia which wears off very quickly,

IV catheter placement should a need arise to administer addl meds

a tech or surgical assistant to monitor thru and after the surgery, leaving

the vet to focus on the procedure and have help on hand

A few days of meds to go home with


I might be wrong in this but I think part of the cost savings with the low cost clinics is

the pre surgical labs may not be done,

IV cath may not placed,

a second person to strictly monitor the patient during and after and be available to help the vet may not be present.

I personally wouldn’t go without any of those. When I was doing spay/neuter research for surgical risks, the biggest factor between human risk rate and animal risk rate was the second person to monitor and the IV cath already in place. Those two factors are the game changers to reduce surgical risks for our pets.

8 months is about as young as I'd be comfortable doing these procedures on a toy. They're at or close to physical maturity by then, and as you've found, the hormones lost too early can have a long term, or later term effect on systems you might not expect.

This will seem like a small study but it's part of several years, multiple breeds worth of data. There's a lot of information online. Just search for "risks of early spay/neuter poodle".

A link to a recent study:
 

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I think it is a judgement call, although I would wait until after at least her first season, and perhaps her second, before having her spayed, to be sure that she is fully mature. The main health benefits for a female are avoiding the risks of pregnancy, avoiding pyometra (infection of the womb and potentially a medical emergency), and reduced risk of mammary tumours. On the other side of the equation there is some research to indicate that fearful females may become more anxious (and reactive) after spaying, and that there may be a higher incidence of some rarer cancers and auto-immune disorders in spayed females. There is also a risk of spay incontinence, as you have probably already read. Somewhere I have a link to several useful research reviews, but they seem to have vanished off this computer - I will keep looking.

The first question to ask yourself is whether you are absolutely certain you can keep her from getting pregnant - her first season will be a good opportunity to find out whether you are confident of coping for three or four weeks twice a year. If not, I would start looking around for a really good vet, and discuss the optimal timing with them - as others have said, you want to reduce the risks as far as possible, and this may not be the time to be watching the cost.
 
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I personally would talk over my concerns with her vet. I would want a comfortable relationship with the vet you deal with. If I like a vet and am comfortable with their care of my dogs I stick with them. I feel you are right in not wanting to breed a very small pup, even with a smaller male, previous generations could have had much larger pups and genetic play havoc. I had a very small shih tzu years ago, I didn't have her spayed for many years as I always thought I wanted to have her bred but in the end I knew it wouldn't be wise. I had her spayed at about 7 years old, which was late however she did well and lived 17 years. In hindsight I probably would discuss the benefits of later spaying with my vet and probably have a traditional spay after 2 heat cycles. But that is just me I have no scientific evidence on what is better.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone! She still hasn't had her first heat so I might wait a bit longer. The reason I went for the humane society clinic was because a multiple dog owner friend told me she recommended it since local humane society vets spend most of their days doing spay/neuter procedures so they are actually more qualified than a regular vet. It was also a lot cheaper than my vet ($150 versus $600-$900) but that was not the main reason for my decision and I'll reconsider if I decide to reschedule this one.
 

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Another option is to consider using a Friends of Animals certificate. We’ve done this in the past with good success, and there are several reputable vets in my area that accept these certificates. See who participates in your area- all listed on the website.

I don’t think Humane Society necessarily equals bad care. Our friend’s daughter was a very good vet who opted to work for the local humane society for several years, I would have trusted her. However, when I was doing rescue, there was one particularly bad shelter that Dogs frequently had complications after the spay. We used to call them “the butcher”. So I think it depends on your area.

I didn’t opt to do FOA with my current dog when I had her spayed at 13 months as the vet I see now doesn’t participate in the program. But I did consider it, as the cost savings is enormous.
 
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