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The Covid19 restrictions in force all across the UK mean that access to the services that we usually take for granted are very limited at present, including companion animal veterinary care.
If you bought or adopted a female puppy or younger female dog in the last few weeks or months, this has all probably come as a huge shock to you, just as it has for everyone else; and it may well also have left you with an unexpected problem on your hands.
If your plan was to have your female pup spayed when she reached sexual maturity in order to prevent unplanned litters, potential reproductive health problems, and unwanted behaviours, you’ll currently be in an unenviable position of having to put off having your pup spayed indefinitely.
This is because veterinary surgeons are only offering emergency and essential services at this stage (as of 3rd April 2020, subject to later change) and even very important preventative healthcare like spay and neutering services for dogs and cats are being delayed until restrictions are lifted.
This means that many puppy owners are going to have to deal with the realities of owning a sexually mature bitch and managing all of the implications of this until the situation changes again, at which point vets will be able to schedule spay and neuter operations as normal once more.
With this in mind, this article will provide a short primer on coping with a young unspayed bitch that reaches sexual maturity, up until she can be neutered. Read on to learn more.
Whilst bitches should not be used for breeding until they are at least two years old to enable them to become fully grown and mature as well as physically capable of conceiving and having a litter, bitches reach sexual maturity much earlier than this.
There is no set age at which bitches reach sexual maturity, however; but the onset of sexual maturity and the point from which your bitch can conceive is signalled by the start of her first heat cycle or season. This usually happens between the ages of six months and one year of age, although it is not uncommon for it to be somewhat later in large and giant dog breeds like the Great Dane.
There are actually contraceptives available for bitches, which stop them from having an oestrus cycle and coming into heat. These are normally used to prevent seasons in bitches that cannot be spayed, or that are intended to be used for breeding later on and so, are deliberately not being spayed.
If you are dealing with real problems with your bitch’s seasons whilst they cannot be spayed due to social distancing restrictions, you might want to talk to your vet about this. However, the medication itself comes in the form of an injection, which means your dog would need to attend the veterinary clinic for it, and so need for it would have to meet one of the benchmarks in place at this time, being an “emergency or essential” treatment, which will not be the case for most dogs.
Dealing with a bitch in season
The behaviour of a bitch in season is often markedly different to your dog’s normal behaviours, and can be confusing and irritating.
You will also potentially have to deal with the mucky discharge bitches in heat produce too of course, but this is usually less problematic than the potential behavioural issues you might face; find out more about what these might entail here.
Keeping your bitch contained and stopping her roaming or wandering off in search of a mate is important when your bitch is in heat, and this means keeping her in, supervising her in the garden, and being very vigilant!
However, male dogs will be able to scent your bitch from some distance away and so a more common problem is unneutered neighbourhood dogs (which also cannot be neutered at the current time) escaping and heading for your home.
Be vigilant for loose dogs hanging about and if you do notice one, contact the dog warden to have it caught, identified, and returned to its owner, and keep your bitch in in the meantime!
It is a very poor idea to let a bitch in season off the lead when walking, and you should also remain vigilant for signs of male dogs heading her way. Try to walk your dog at quiet times of the day and in quieter places, and keep a constant lookout for other dogs, and avoid them.
Most dog owners know that two unneutered male dogs will fight very savagely over a bitch if such as situation arises, but two unspayed bitches that are both in heat and so, in competition for a mate will tend to be less than friendly to each other too and may even be aggressive.
Once more, there are apt to be more unneutered dogs of both sexes around until the current Covid19 restrictions are lifted, and this includes younger dogs your bitch might know and play with perfectly nicely now, which are themselves approaching sexual maturity and so, that might become a problem in short order.
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