Can you prevent an unspayed female dog from coming into season?

Can you prevent an unspayed female dog from coming into season?

Health & Safety

While everyone of course loves puppies, it is vital to ensure that you do not breed from your bitch without good reasons, and have ready and waiting good homes for the potential puppies that your bitch might produce. Unspayed dogs have strong urges to breed, and when in season, will go to great lengths to find themselves a mate. Even if you are really careful about keeping your bitch away from un-neutered male dogs when she is in season, accidents can happen, and every year, thousands of unwanted puppies are born in the UK due to accidents or a lack of good supervision.

If your bitch is not spayed and you have good reasons for not spaying her, such as a medical reason why the operation cannot take place or plans to breed her for all the right reasons at a later point, dealing with your dog’s regular heat cycles can be a challenge.

While most of us are aware of the wide rage of methods of contraception that are available to people, such as the pill, implant and barrier methods, for bitches, life is not so easy! So, is there any way to prevent a female dog from coming into heat and being able to breed? Read on to find out!

Bitches and their heat cycles

When a female dog reaches the onset of adolescence and maturity, she will go through her first oestrus cycle, which indicates that she is physically able to conceive. This first season can occur at any stage from around six months of age onwards, although for large and giant breeds, it can take up to 18 months for them to undergo their first cycle, or even possibly longer.

After the first season is completed, unspayed bitches will come into season once or twice a year, and the entire process can take up to three weeks to complete, during which time, your bitch will be capable of conceiving a litter.

Spaying to prevent your bitch coming into season

The traditional and most common method of preventing your bitch from coming into season ever again is to have her spayed. Spaying is an ovio-hysterectomy operation, which removes both of the bitch’s ovaries and so, her ability to breed. This in turn stops the bitch from going through the normal heat cycles, and the hormonal changes that come with the heat cycles are also negated.

Spaying is, therefore, the most common method of preventing seasons in the bitch, and it can also help to protect the bitch against problems such as ovarian cancers in later life.

Canine contraception?

While your vet will probably recommend spaying first and foremost, this is not the only method available to vets to help you to prevent your bitch from coming into season.

Canine contraceptives are also available, which are designed to prevent or pause the oestrus cycle that leads to a season, and so, removes the opportunity to breed. The canine contraceptive is administered in the form of a long-acting injection of a particular hormone, usually either Proligesterone or Delvosteron, which prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg or from an egg implanting in the lining of the womb.

However, the contraceptive injection is not a one-off treatment, and will require regular repeats for as long as you wish to prevent your bitch from coming into season for. An initial injection is administered, with a second shot given after three months and a third shot given four months after that. After this time, if you still wish to prevent your bitch from breeding, regular injections need to be scheduled for five-monthly intervals.

Currently, this is the only regular method available to dog owners to prevent the oestrus cycle without spaying, however, hormonal implants that can also suspend the heat cycle are currently being researched.

As with any procedure that requires the administration of hormones or medications to your dog, the contraceptive injection is not without some risks of its own. Dogs that undergo hormonal control for their seasons are found to have a slightly elevated risk rate for the incidence of pyometras, and the health benefits that come from spaying, such as reduction in the incidence rate of ovarian cancers, are negated.

Added to this, if your bitch has been receiving hormonal contraception injections for some time, particularly over a year, it can mean that it will take some time for their natural cycle to return to normal, restoring their ability to reproduce.

If you intend to use contraceptive injections as a temporary measure to keep your bitch from coming into season but later wish to breed from them, try to ensure that your bitch does not receive shots for more than a year if possible, and stop administering the injection at least a few months before you intend to breed from her.



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