I am occasionally asked if it is fair to buy a bitch and not allow her to have a litter of her own.

My answer is this.  If you don’t intend breeding from her, have her spayed (neutered).

Having a litter of puppies is always a risky business for both mother and puppies especially if the owner is inexperienced.  I will always offer the benefit of my considerable experience to those who do wish to breed, but please don’t feel that you have to have “just one litter, for the good of the bitch”.  It doesn’t work like that.  The old addage “what she never had, she’ll never miss” is true in this instance.

Bringing a litter into the world is a big responsibility.  There are so many pitfalls.  Puppies, and indeed their mother can be lost through not knowing the right thing to do.  To expose your bitch to the stress of pregnancy and puppy care may well be ill-advised, as well as being extremely hard work if the owner is doing things right.  It is literally “their lives in your hands”.

Some think that it will add to the family income in these hard times.  I can honestly, hand on heart say that we have never made any “profit” from our dogs. When you weigh up the pro’s and cons, you realise that you have a lot more costs than you may have anticipated.

Firstly there is the stud fee, payable at the time of mating. Then you have to feed your dog all the year round not just when there are puppies.  If a bitch has a litter of 6 puppies she will need 4 times her normal daily food intake whilst she is lactating.

Cyda's puppies won't keep still!

Veterinary costs are spiralling year on year. If your bitch needs a Caesarean section you need to build that cost into the equation.  If a sickly puppy needs veterinary attention – and later dies, you still have the vet’s bill to pay.  Add up also,the cost of buying a heat-mat and the extra electricity needed to run it during the puppies first 4 weeks of life – longer if it’s cold. Extra puppy-friendly disinfectant and washing powder for the endless washing of puppy-bedding, – then there’s the cost of the pieces of vet bed for the puppies’ bed – I go through about 6 per day at the moment, these have to be washed and dried daily, ready for use again, so realistically double that quantity.  All our “profit” – and a good bit more besides goes back into our dogs in one form or another.

Cavalier puppies at nearly 5 weeks, feeding

The best time to spay (neuter) your bitch is 3 months after the start of her first season. During the full 3 weeks of her season, do not walk her outside your garden (use Jeyes Fluid disinfectant, diluted, around the boundary walls to discourage the unwanted attention of dogs).  Stay with her when she is outside as she may try to “escape” to find a mate, or an amorous male may jump your boundary fence – and a Great Dane trying to mate a Chihuahua could do a lot of damage!   Do not allow her near any entire male dogs – this includes related males, as you can be sure they would be just as keen to mate with her as she will be with them – (if need be place her in kennels for that time) – and then bathe her.  This will eliminate the scent which is so attractive to other dogs.

She will recover from the operation a lot more quickly than you would imagine – far quicker than a lady following a hysterectomy.  Apart from a bit of tenderness she will be back to normal very soon.

Additional health benefits include reduction of the likelihood of mammary tumours, poly-cystic ovaries and pyrometrea.   Spaying really is the “Kindest Cut of all”.

…  Anne