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Would you spay a 10 year old female?


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#1 WendyM

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 12:34 PM

Hi All,

Well, my newest senior foster gal, Molly (the one who was a working stock dog and ended up chained in the mud for the past few years) is NOT spayed.

She is 10 years old and in apparent good health. I am concerned about adopting her out without being spayed --but is it really necessary at that age?

I've called my vet and she should get back to me by the end of the day, or tomorrow perhaps, but wondering if there was anyone on the boards who had experience with this. Thanks!

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#2 Maralynn

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 12:42 PM

I'd get a thorough vet check and blood panel done. As long as your vet agrees that she is healthy and her blood work comes back normal I'd have no qualms about getting her spayed.

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#3 Bluzinnias

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 12:57 PM

Here at the vet hospital where I work, we see the majority of pyometra in older, unspayed female dogs. Pyo is an infection of the uterus. It is rather gross and quite a danger, maybe even fatal if left untreated.

I'd spay her if she was otherwise healthy.

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#4 WendyM

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 02:15 PM

Thanks for your comments and insights! I am taking her to my vet this afternoon to have her health evaluated, and pending those results then will probably schedule a spay surgery for her. Really, I am pretty nervous about it because of her age and also because I have had BC's with bad reactions to anesthesia before. :-( Will let everyone know what the vet says later...

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#5 juliepoudrier

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 02:23 PM

As long as she's in good health it will be much better for her future health (to avoid pyometra and the risk of mammary tumors) if you go ahead and have her spayed.

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#6 Lenajo

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 02:42 PM

At 10 she can still breed and whelp puppies, so if you can't 100% trust the adopters you will have to spay her.

Would I spay my own 10 year old? No, I wouldn't. But I don't have any trouble controlling my dogs reproduction either. I'm not particularily worried about problems related to non-spay - good diet, health lifestyle (kept fit and active), dogs don't have many problems, and nothing I wouldn't prefer to handle as is. My vet agrees - she no longer recommneds spaying unless the owner cannot control reproduction with reasonable methods.

In Rescue/adoption issues you don't have as many options. Spay her.

Not really sure why you consider 10 to be old..... all of our dogs are still working the farm and trialing well at that age.

#7 Liz P

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 03:22 PM

You will not reduce her risk of mammary cancer. You will prevent pyos and pregnancy. She is perfectly capable of becoming pregnant. I know of working dog people who have bred 11 and 12 year old (healthy, young looking) bitches.

I am with Wendy, all rescues should be neutered before adoption. It's not worth the risk of letting them go intact.

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#8 Shetlander

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 03:43 PM

I am with Wendy, all rescues should be neutered before adoption. It's not worth the risk of letting them go intact.


I agree. Plus many people do not want an intact bitch and would go ahead and spay her themselves. I'm perfectly capable of controlling my dog's reproduction but not inclined to deal with bitches in season.

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#9 Tassie

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 07:32 PM

Yes, subject to veterinary advice, I'd definitely be spaying a dog that was going to be adopted out. It'll probably cost a bit more, as if I were you, I'd be getting pre-anesthetic bloods done, and expecting that the vet might recomment IV fluid support for the surgery, given her age (I know 10 isn't old - but , it's not young either :rolleyes: ).

Do discuss you anesthesia concerns with the vet too - I believe one sort of anesthetic is safer for Border Collies - but darned if I can remember which one - others might be able to help there.
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#10 Dal & Mad's Mom

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 07:07 PM

We just did an 8 year old and got the bloodwork first to be sure she was healthy. My one recommendation is to also get her pain meds if you can. I have found my mom's who were spayed seem to have alot of pain. It's so much worse than a 6 month old girl who's bounced back by the next morning.
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#11 WendyM

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:31 PM

Thanks for the comments and advice....and it is exactly along the lines of what my vet said. She wants bloodwork and a urine (same day) sample, and also gave me some antibiotics to start Molly on a few days BEFORE the spay surgery. The issue of pain management was also of concern, and Molly will be getting Rimadyl afterwards. My vet wants to do an IV/catheter with fluids during the spay to support her system, as well. She will stay overnight at the clinic so they can monitor her stitches the first 24 hours, and then I will bring her home. She is an outdoor dog, but likes her new bed and staying warm...it is all new to her to have a roof over her head and a warm place to stay!

Any other thoughts about how to manage her afterwards? She is not crate trained, but may be feeling lousy enough not to mind being crated, and I am guessing that she should only be pottied on a leash for a few days. What other experiences have people had with older dogs getting this surgery? Sorry to be a "nervous nellie" about this, but I have heard from several people recently who had young females spayed and had complications, ranging from hernias to reactions to the stitches, to skin reactions to the antibiotic cremes used...makes me kind of paranoid about it I guess!

Really, I feel badly for putting her through all this at her age, but realistically, I can't adopt her out without being spayed. :-(

What is the anesthetic that is supposed to be better? Does anyone know the name of it? I can ask my vet about that too..

-Wendy M.

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#12 Mojo

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:44 PM

You are probably thinking of isoflurane (inhaled gas). Godiva has had multiple procedures over the years, and never does really well with any anesthetic, but by far the worst experiences we've personally had have been with valium/ketamine (i.e., psychosis). Propofol (a new injectable) is also good for short procedures, as it is a very rapid induction agent and is quite safe, but it is also very expensive, and last I checked, it is not widely available in the veterinary field except at some specialty centers, and since propofol does not require intubation, there would be no ability to control the airway. In general, I think most vets who were using older injectables are moving to isoflurane. Definitely get the pre-anesthetic bloodwork to check for any possible problems before going into the procedure. If you are very, very worried (as I am about all major surgical procedures), you can always ask for or look for a vet that has the capacity for blood oxygen monitoring and/or blood pressure monitoring during the procedure, but really, someone who does a high volume of spays (and thus is the most experienced with the greatest variety of dogs) is probably your best bet. Hope that helps....good luck!!!!
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#13 Liz P

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:55 PM

Depends on the individual dog. One of mine, who has epilepsy, can't get ketamine or dormitor or he has grand mal seizures. My other dogs do fine with those drugs (which are used for induction). One of my BCs doesn't do well with propofol and has a hard time with anesthesia in general. You don't know this dog's history so all you can do is trust the vet to select the most appropriate drugs and make adjustments as needed.

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#14 AK dog doc

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 04:35 AM

On the propofol - it is very smooth in most animals, but it isn't really a new drug (we were using it in vet school, and that was in the early 90's). Some of vets don't use it due to expense and shelf life, but there are those who love it and use it anyway. (Some vets don't like it at all, though - I know of one who would use nearly anything else, due to some bad experiences with propofol.) It DOES, however, require intubation and gas inhalant anesthesia for most procedures - it's not a long-acting anesthetic, and it is not enough to maintain anesthesia for an abdominal procedure such as a spay. On a subjective note, I was given propofol for an anesthetic once, and it was excellent, from my POV as a patient.... induction was smooth and immediate, recovery was smooth and quick, I did not re-narcotize, and I had no drug hangover from it. That doesn't mean everyone (or every animal) would do well with it, but I loved it (compared to the other anesthetic regimen I had.)

On spaying a ten year old dog (assuming bloods are normal and there are no contraindications on physical exam or labs) - I'd way rather spay a healthy 10 year old than a sick 11 or 12 or 14 year old. If she developed pyometra or a uterine cancer or an ovarian cancer, I'd be spaying a sick dog in the hope of saving her life, instead of a well dog in the certainty of preventing a serious health issue, such as an unwanted (and, at that age, extremely risky) pregnancy, pyometra, uterine or ovarian cancer, mucometra, etc.

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#15 Laurae

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 09:43 AM

Taz is very sensitive to anesthesia, as are other dogs in his line. He cannot handle ace and his uncle came very close to death on the operating table when anesthetized with a ketamine/valium combination. He has been able to handle propofol well enough, and I am wondering if isoflourine (which I've only seen used in conjunction with acepromazine) can be used alone and is well tolerated by sensitive dogs. I am, of course, only talking in general, not asking anyone whether they think my specific dog will tolerate one anesthetic better than another.

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#16 Mojo

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 03:44 PM

On the propofol - it is very smooth in most animals, but it isn't really a new drug (we were using it in vet school, and that was in the early 90's).

Hello and thanks for your response...I don't mean to nitpick, but I would actually consider propofol a pretty new anesthetic. Perhaps I should have said newer, as I believe Diprivan (proprietary propofol) was developed as a trade name in the late 1980s, and it only recently became available as a generic drug--I think in 1999 or so--but that would undoubtedly be quite new compared to barbiturates or nitrous oxide, which emerged in the nineteenth century and yet still are in use today. Aquavan (an even newer formulation of propofol), for example, is still currently in phase 3 clinical trials (i.e., still under testing/development). As another example, propofol is newer than isoflurane, which itself is fairly new, but isoflurane is already out of favor in human anesthesia as it has largely been replaced by sevoflurane, desflurane, and propofol (except in areas of the world where cost prohibits the use of these drugs). Even the predecessor of isoflurane, halothane, was developed in the 1950s, which was not really all that long ago, either.

It DOES, however, require intubation and gas inhalant anesthesia for most procedures - it's not a long-acting anesthetic, and it is not enough to maintain anesthesia for an abdominal procedure such as a spay.

Perhaps I should have been more clear on this point, as well. I noted in my previous post that propofol is good for SHORT procedures, precisely because it is a rapid induction agent. I didn't think it was necessary to mention it at the time, but this is also because recovery times are very quick. I did NOT actually say that propofol was sufficient for both induction and maintenance of anesthesia during a spay, which is, of course, a major open abdominal procedure (akin to total hysterectomy in a human)--I had actually avoided making that statement because I did not want to discourage any readers of this thread from spaying their dogs for fear of anesthesia or surgery, but there it is. The OP and another poster had simply asked which anesthetics were "better" or "safer," so I was simply trying to answer their questions in general, and thus, I think it is fair to make the general statement that isoflurane and propofol are two of the newest and safest anesthesia drugs available for veterinary use, although they are quite different in nature and the indications for their use are different, and of course different individual dogs may have differing reactions to them, as with anything in medicine.

For the record, however, Godiva developed collapsed trachea in her later years, making her a difficult intubation case, and when it was advised that she have some minor elective dental work done (i.e., a SHORT procedure), her vet offered her propofol WITHOUT intubation but WITH an opioid for pain (propofol does not have any analgesic--i.e., pain-reducing--properties, so always has to be given in conjunction with a drug that does function as an analgesic). I ended up deciding not to have the procedure done because I did not feel comfortable with a (then) thirteen-year-old dog with (then) moderate renal insufficiency and a history of poor response to anesthesia being anesthetized with propofol (which has no reversal agent) without intubation, which, again, meant that there would be no control of her airway (i.e., ability to maintain respiration if something should go wrong). Obviously, a long procedure would inevitably require intubation, collapsed trachea or no collapsed trachea, and if used, propofol would be employed in conjunction with a gas anesthetic, as you said. I hope that helps clarify my points for anyone else reading this.
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#17 Mojo

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 04:24 PM

Hi, Laura--as far as I know (and AK Dog Doc could probably clarify this better for you than I could), inhaled isoflurane is not generally used alone as both the induction and maintenance agent for canine anesthesia because it is scary and stressful for the dog to have a face mask put on without first being pre-medicated via injection. Humans may elect to avoid pre-medication because sevoflurane is markedly better for inhaled induction via face mask than isoflurane is, but since sevoflurane is not yet available as a generic, like isoflurane is, sevoflurane is still extremely expensive, and as far as I know, it is not often used in veterinary practice (although, again, I would be very interested to read AK Dog Doc's comments on this point, as I have wondered how well sevoflurane is being received in the veterinary community--I've asked about it at my vet's, who does have a specialty center, but it is not yet available there).

In any case, I found the following info from Abbott Laboratories for you regarding the types of drugs that may accompany administration of isoflurane for veterinary use, and acepromazine is not a requirement (and actually is listed in the "interactions" section as possibly potentiating the effects of isoflurane--i.e., with ace on board, less isoflurane needs to be used):

"Isoflurane may be used in conjunction with other drugs commonly used in veterinary anaesthetic regimes for premedication, induction and analgesia. Some specific examples are given in the individual species information. The use of analgesia for painful procedures is consistent with good veterinary practice.

DOG
Premedication: Isoflurane may be used with other drugs commonly used in veterinary anaesthetic regimes. The following drugs have been found to be compatible with isoflurane: acepromazine, atropine, butorphanol, buprenorphine, bupivacaine, diazepam, dobutamine, ephedrine, epinephrine, etomidate, glycopyrrolate, ketamine, medetomidine, midazolam, methoxamine, oxymorphone, propofol, thiamylal, thiopentone and xylazine. Drugs used for premedication should be selected for the individual patient. However, the potential interactions below should be noted.

Interactions: Morphine, oxymorphone, acepromazine, medetomidine, medetomidine plus midazolam have been reported to reduce the MAC for isoflurane in dogs. The concomitant administration of midazolam/ketamine during isoflurane anaesthesia may result in marked cardiovascular effects, particularly arterial hypotension. The depressant effects of propranolol on myocardial contractility are reduced during isoflurane anaesthesia, indicating a moderate degree of β-receptor activity."
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#18 Pippin's person

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 05:25 PM

We just had our ca. 10-year old foster failure (Ness) spayed and it wasn't much of any issue. The vet did find a little fluid in the uterus, so we were very glad we spayed her (we also wondered if it was worth putting her through that but the potential health risks--about which we knew zippo beforehand--persuaded us).

She didn't show much interest at all in the incision, but we put a t-shirt on her and pinned it so she couldn't get at it while we weren't home to watch her. A bite-not collar would do the same. The stitches dissolved and I don't think she even missed a beat the whole time. It reminded me a lot of spaying a young dog, really. We kept her on leash walks for a few days, but she's not a speed demon anyway (still building up her wasted away muscles), so there wasn't much likelihood she'd do any damage by running around.

Of course things can always happen, but our experience with her wasn't any different than with our youngsters.

Molly does look like a sweet girl.
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#19 WendyM

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 05:39 PM

Lots of good information about the types of anesthesia, thank you! I will talk more with my vet about what would be best for Molly, and I am willing to pay extra to have her safe and get her through this surgery as smoothly as possible!

I have scheduled this spay for the 14th (a Friday) and wondering if that was a bad call, because they are going to keep her overnight and that would be into Saturday, when they are shorter staffed. It has been suggested to me that it would be better to bring her home that evening where I could watch her, rather than leave her at the vet clinic, since there is not 24 hour staffing there. But the procedure will be in the morning Friday...and if I got her home that evening, and something happened it would be a 20 mile trip to the emergency vet from my house, and a bit further to the vet's office (if they were open when I needed them) Seems like if she was at the vet's and something was amiss, it would be better?

This foster dog is very special to me. She was rescued from a really bad situation where she was chained outside in the cold and mud, with no access to shelter. Molly loves people and is such a sweetheart, despite her previous conditions. I want to make her life better, not worse, and pray that there are no complications from this decision. I agree that the prospect of uterine infections later in life is scary, and I am doing this spay so she can be adopted into a forever home and be a healthy and happy girl the rest of her life!

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#20 juliepoudrier

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 08:54 PM

Wendy,
Unless your vet is staffed 24/7, I think she'd better off at home with you. Consider that if you notice a problem at 1 a.m., and it takes you 20 minutes to get to the emergency vet, then she'll certainly be seen by, say, 2 a.m. If she's overnighting in the animal clinic and there's no one there watching and she has a problem, you'll have to hope it's not so serious that it can't wait till the staff arrives the following morning. Unless standard procedures have changed greatly (and I doubt it) the only place your dog would be watched/checked on regularly overnight is at an emergency vet clinic.

I always prefer to bring mine home the evening of their surgery. I figure I'm more likely to be vigilant about watching for problems with my own pet than anyone else will be, and like I said, it's not likely anyone will be watching them overnight if they stay at the hospital.

(FWIW, I do know of a vet who went so far as to take a very sick patient home with him to keep an eye on her overnight, and have heard of others doing the same, but that really is the exception I think, and cases that really were life and death, not just after care for routine procedures.)

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