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Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS
11 February, 2009
Case 1. A Bitch's First Heat - Should she be spayed
when she has bleeding?
Case 1 was first written in 11 Nov 2003 when a digital
camera was first purchased.
Pictures of a spay done by Dr Sing Kong Yuen in 11 Nov
to educate dog owners regarding spaying in their female dog.
Swollen vulval lips and the
vaginal bleeding for the past 7 days indicate that estrus has set in.
The bitch is "on heat" and may conceive if mated. The owner decided to
spay the bitch as the bleeding stains dirty the house.
The hook catches the left uterine horn. It is pulled through the
incision. The left ovary, being part of the reproductive system
follows through and is then pulled out.
A tranquiliser and then gas
anaesthesia is given.
The vet cuts the skin and peritoneum near the umbilicus with a
scalpel. This "keyhole" incision of about 1.25 cm for a small breed,
permits the spay hook to enter the abdomen.
The vet fishes out the left
uterine horn from inside the abdomen using the hook.
The fingers pull out the
remaining part of the uterine horn and the ovary. The ovarian ligament
is broken so that the main body of the ovary can be detached and
The rest of the uterine horn is then pulled out.
The right ovary and uterine horn are then removed in the same way.
The ovaries and uterine horns in
the estrus period are larger and have bigger and more fragile blood
Two layers of stitches or one, over the muscle and skin close the
incision. The nylon skin stitches are removed in 14 days' time by the
owner or the vet.
UPDATE: From 2003, Toa Payoh Vets use absorbable skin sutures which will
dissolve after 14 days and do not need to be removed.
The bitch's first heat in your apartment
the apartment with blood stains is the main complaint
The bitch will become
sexually mature from 6 - 8 months and will pass bright reddish blood
from her vagina.
You may wish to spay her
1. to benefit from a large decrease in the annual dog licence fee payable.
2. to prevent pregnancy if you have a entire male dog around.
3. to keep the apartment free from blood stains for the around 10 days for
around every six months till the bitch is old.
4. to maintain her trim body condition. The usual observation is
that a mothering bitch
will have large nipples and some owners do not like this situation.
WHEN TO SPAY? When is the best time to spay your bitch? This is a frequently asked
question with many answers varying from 4 - 18 months old depending on the
concerns of various organisations:
1. THE INTEREST OF THE REGULATORY AUTHORITIES & ANIMAL SHELTERS.
For stray bitches and cats, the earlier the better to reduce the stray
animal population. 4 weeks of age to spay a stray cat and 8 weeks to spay
a stray dog have been recommended.
2. THE INTEREST OF THE BITCH. I would say that the best time
will be after the bitch has matured mentally as an adult and this will be
around 1 year of age for the smaller breeds like the Maltese and 2 years
for the Labrador Retriever. However, sexual maturity occurs at 6 - 8
If the female is spayed before maturity, e.g. at 4 months of age, the
urethra will not have developed to its adult width and consequently, some
females have difficulty in passing urine.
There are internet articles saying that the chances of the bitch getting
breast cancer is higher if the spay is after the first heat.
Mastectomy in older dogs with breast cancers
costs money and trauma to the owner.
3. THE INTEREST OF THE DOG OWNER. The dog owner may feel that
it is un-natural and cruel to neuter the bitch. There is the worry of the
obesity, lack of vigour, inability to control bodily functions and
debilitating lifelong health problems after spaying.
Some spayed bitches do suffer from urinary incontinence and itchy skin
problems similar to symptoms suffered by women after menopause, but there
are medication available.
The owner may may use dog sanitary pads available from the pet shop when
the bitch is on heat.
Family members dislike the blood
stains dirtying the house for around 10 days when the bitch is in heat and
there is a lot of cleaning up to do.
However, the yearly dog
licence for a spayed bitch in Singapore is much lower and this is a powerful
economic incentive to spay.
UPDATE IN 2009
1. The yearly dog licence for a
sterilised male or female dog is S$14.00.
Previously, the male dog was S$14.00 whether
he was neutered or not.
2. Non-sterilised male and female dogs - the
licence fee is S$70.00
3. If the puppy is licensed before 5 MONTHS
of age, the licence fee is S14.00.
4. THE INTEREST OF THE VET. Vets who have strong views on reducing the stray dog population
and sufferings of the homeless dogs or cats will
recommend the bitch to be spayed before her first heat, at 4 -6 months of
When the bitch is spayed at around 6 months old and before the first heat,
she will not have much abdominal fat and the operation is much easier.
Breast cancers and infection of the womb are seldom seen in older bitches
However, many bitches seem to put on excessive weight and some
have skin problems after spaying and this may deter the owner from spaying
her. Usually this increase in weight is due to the lack of control of
feeding and the lack of exercise.
SPAY DURING THE HEAT PERIOD.
Owners want to spay their bitches when they
have bleeding. In my opinion, it is best to spay the bitch during
the inactive phase of the reproductive cycle.
This will be three months after the bleeding period as the uterine horns
are not so fragile and the ovaries not so large.
You can see that the ovaries are large, being active as the bitch was in
heat and her blood drops stained the home.
Unfortunately, most busy Singapore
owners will have forgotten about the urgency to spay since there is no
nuisance blood stain in the house.
CONCLUSION. If you have decided to spay your bitch, do it
when she is 6 months old. If not, 3 months after the first heat.
2. A Cat's First Heat
Written: 11 February 2009
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
In the cat, no owner has ever complained about
vaginal bleeding dirtying the apartment. There is
some vaginal discharge but the cat cleans herself.
However, the main complaint is the caterwauling
Some female cats meow so loudly and
noisily (wanting to go out to mate) such that the
owner can't sleep. Neighbours in apartments get
irritated. In such cases, the owner
usually rush to the veterinarian to get the cat
The female cat shown below did not caterwaul at 6
months of age although she is sexually mature. The
owner wanted her spay at 6 months as recommended.
From 2008, I use xylazine/ketamine injectable
general anaesthesia in cat spay and neuter as I
find it to be a very effective and safe
anaesthesia. Generally the owners come to collect
the cat later. But in one case, the owner came
within 1 hour after the end of spay and was quite
shocked to see her cat "dead." All cats will
wake up 1 hour after spay, as if from a deep and
peaceful sleep. But they still need to rest
and not be taken home so soon.
In order not to traumatise owners and in the
interest of the cat, it is best to let the owner
know that the female cat can go home only in the
evening or when the cat has waken up and is able
UPDATE ON CAT SPAY
AT TOA PAYOH VETS IN 2009
In most cases, I don't advise Elizabeth
collars in cats.
She will be given the pain-killers and
antibiotics after the spay unless the owner
does not want them. Her wound heals well in
The plaster can be changed on Day 3 or
replaced with a new one if the cat licks it
off by Day 2.
There is no need to come back to remove the
absorbable skin sutures (3/0). The sutures
disappear after 21 days if the cat has not
got rid of them.
Why you should spay your dog or cat?
(breast cancer & spay)
Pictures of female dogs spayed by Dr Sing Kong Yuen
Dog spayed at Toa Payoh Vets
Mastectomy: Breast cancer in a female dog not
Mastectomy done by Dr Sing Kong Yuen