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Thread: Phantom pregnancy

  1. #1

    Phantom pregnancy

    Any advice welcome, I don't want to put my bitch through an unnecessary operation but I think she will have to be spayed.
    12months old 1st season kept separate from dog - no problem
    18months old 2nd season kept separate from dog - no problem
    2years old 3rd season kept separate from dog - full blown phantom pregnancy, put on 2 Kg weight, teats dropped, producing milk, nesting.
    2 1/2 years old 4th season kept separate from dog - no problem
    3years old 5th season kept separate from dog - full blown phantom as above
    3 1/2 years old 6th season kept separate from dog - no problem
    4 years old 7th season kept separate from dog - mild phantom
    4 1/2 years no problem
    5 years old 9th season left with the dog never saw them couple but he kept trying. Was convinced she was pregnant 60 ish days had put on 3Kg weight, teats drop, milk, nesting, temperature drop, panting, contractions etc - off to the vets exam & ultra sound - no pups another phantom!

  2. #2
    There is evidence that up to 1/3rd of unspayed bitches will go on and develop a potentially fatal womb infection called a pyometra.

    I'd get on and have her spayed if you don't plan on breeding from her. There are other health benefits.

    Section 161 of the Highways Act 1980 (England & Wales) makes it an offence to discharge a firearm within 50 ft of the centre of a highway with vehicular rights without lawful authority or excuse, if as a result a user of the highway is injured, interrupted or endangered.

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Thanks, you have confirmed what I thought I would have to do. As soon as she's back in shape and before her next season I'll have her spayed
    Cheers Wingy

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Apache View Post
    There is evidence that up to 1/3rd of unspayed bitches will go on and develop a potentially fatal womb infection called a pyometra.

    I'd get on and have her spayed if you don't plan on breeding from her. There are other health benefits.
    There are a lot more negatives to spaying and neutering than leaving an animal intact - I don't think the risk of pyometra is a good enough reason to get this bitch done?

    Pyometra (Infection of the Uterus) Pet insurance data in Sweden (where spaying is very uncommon) found that 23% of all female dogsdeveloped pyometra before 10 years of age44. Bernese Mountain dogs, Rottweilers, rough-haired Collies,Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Golden Retrievers were found to be high risk breeds44. Female dogsthat have not whelped puppies are at elevated risk for pyometra45. Rarely, spayed female dogs candevelop “stump pyometra” related to incomplete removal of the uterus.

    Pyometra can usually be treated surgically or medically, but 4% of pyometra cases led to death44.Combined with the incidence of pyometra, this suggests that about 1% of intact female dogs will die frompyometra.
    Source - http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongT...uterInDogs.pdf

    Read through the rest of that pdf and see if it changes your mind.

    Organisations like the dogs trust have a big say in veterinary council policy - but vets are on a winner so will hardly argue the point. They're cleaning up on elective surgeries like this - and the bonus is that they get to treat the issues it leads to as well.

    I have NEVER heard of a vet that will acknowledge in public that there are any negative health implications involved with spaying and neutering.
    I would be more than happy if someone can prove me wrong.

  6. #6
    Hello, Corkonian.

    Yes you cite an unpublished article that grabs some random statistics and tries to make a point. I am perfectly aware of the issues.

    The problem, and it is common, is that doubling the risk of a rare cancer still makes it a rare cancer. You hear horror stories like (as this is a 100% fictional example) "Drinking coffee doubles breast cancer risk" then you go and look at the statistics and see that in the coffee drinker group there is 1in15,000 people die of breast cancer and in the other group the odds are 1 in 28,000 - either way you are very unlikely to die from breast cancer!) The other thing you can't do when comparing 2 groups of animals and 2 variables is imply causality. Just because there is an apparent correlation between 2 variables doesn't mean they are in any way related.

    You need to put this in context. Every week I will see bitches with mammary tumours (I removed one today!). Most weeks I will see a dog with a pyometra (although they come in runs). Every year I may see a dog with a bone tumour. I can recall two dogs ever with a haemangiosarcoma on the spleen.

    My distillation of the evidence out there is:

    The best time to spay a bitch is 3 months after the first season.

    Why? Well the protective effect is strong for preventing mammary tumours. The risk of problems with juvenile genitalia is abolished and the risk of bitches developing incontinence is lower than those spayed before the first season. You will find that with giant dogs (where there is a likely risk of increased chances of bone tumours if spayed under a year) that by the time the bitch has come into season and then 3 months have elapsed she has easily made it over the year mark. If you neuter a dog the removal of the sex hormones slows the metabolisms so you need to feed it less - I tell clients this. If the dog gets fat, that is not a fault of neutering it is the fault of the owner for overfeeding! It's not just a lucky accident I came to this conclusion.........

    (I do practice what I preach - my little dog is spayed. By far the most common complication is mild urinary incontinence that can be easily controlled by medication. I'd pick that any day over mammary cancer or a life threatening womb infection). (If you think it is a conspiracy by the veterinary profession I can make loads more money mending a pyometra or removing mammary tumours than I ever can doing bargain bottom spays).

    Section 161 of the Highways Act 1980 (England & Wales) makes it an offence to discharge a firearm within 50 ft of the centre of a highway with vehicular rights without lawful authority or excuse, if as a result a user of the highway is injured, interrupted or endangered.

  7. #7
    I'll second Apache's comments. I've read through the document and whilst it presents some interesting arguments, some of the data is not robust. Make no mistake, a spay is a major op, not a quick snip, so it has to thought about. There are negative effects and in my experience, most vets will discuss them. Medical treatment does exist, but it is not particularly good and only defers the condition until the next season.
    I concur with the timing for a spay - 3 mth after first season.
    As an aside, neither the Dog's Trust, the RSPCA or any other similar organisations have a say in Veterinary Council (British Veterinary Association) policy.
    For many practices a bitch spay is not that financially rewarding. I can hear the splutterings as I type, but it's true. I won't deny it's expensive, so is all medicine, but the profit is slim.

  8. #8
    I should have specified that I'm Irish so not referring to the UK setup - I'm also not a vet.


    There are ties between the veterinary council here and the dog's trust. Part of the subsidized neutering campaign that they ran. A few of the vets I go to and know said it had the backing of the VC. I'm not suggesting anything clandestine but I'm not naive enough either to think greed doesn't motivate a lot of these decisions at some level.
    I happen to agree that regardless of possible health problems that most pet dogs should be done - kenneled working dogs are another matter altogether.
    I was at a course recently and they had a guest vet in who said that there were NO negative health implications with regard to spaying and neutering - he had two young lads persuaded to have their bitches done.
    Both of you originally hadn't gone as far as to say that obviously but you had not fully informed Wingy.
    Not having a go at you for this as you're the professionals and the advice given was based on your experience/knowledge.
    I still believe that if you give someone advice you should inform them properly - as Buchan says 'Make no mistake, a spay is a major op' - so if I was Wingy and I was to make the decision based on your advice why would I put the bitch through a major op to avoid her 23% chance of having to undergo another major treatment?


    Would you agree with any part of the article I linked? Note that the précis is written by someone else - I don't think that it's fair to say that Sanborn 'grabs some random statistics and tries to make a point'?




    It's great to have vets on a forum who actively contribute - I can see myself coming on here to pick your brains in the future if you don't mind?

  9. #9
    For Wingy - a few more interesting articles linked off this guy's page -
    http://www.doglistener.co.uk/neutering_definitive
    This is a hunting site - the possibility of negative behavioral changes can be as detrimental to the dogs survival as physical problems. Pointless having an working dog in your kennels that will no longer come up to scratch?

  10. #10
    Corkonian, I'm not getting draw into some great long discussion on this. I have fallen for that trap before (raw meaty bones, anyone?).

    When someone brings me a bitch to be spayed I give them enough information to make an informed decision. How much information I give them depends on a huge number of factors. If I made them sit for an hour reading scientific papers before they made their mind up I'd get nothing done in the day. I always discuss the risks when booking the animal in. If people ask questions I will do my best to answer them.

    In a lot of cases people are paying me for my opinion. That opinion is based on a lot of things, and that includes the published information out there clouded by my own feelings and personal biases! What I am very open to is changing the way I do things depending on the evidence available to me at the time, but that said I don't change everything as soon as a random paper is published. My clients expect me to know the risks, benefits and contraindications and use my knowledge to make them the best recommendations for their pet.

    I remain of the very definite view that common things are common (pyo's and mammary tumours) and they are expensive to fix and can lead to an animal's death. A routine spay is very low risk in a young fit healthy animal and very affordable. All sorts of other side benefits (bitches come into season at the wrong time and that can disrupt their work and the work of other dogs that are kennelled)!

    My issue with your link is a lot of the 'research' is taken out of context. You can find papers published out there that will prove almost anything (except homoeopathy......).

    My recommendation for the OP remains to get his bitch spayed.

    (incidentally we upset the gremlins with this thread - removed a bitch's spleen today with a suspected ruptured HSA - spayed a year ago with a pyo. I kid you not!)

    Section 161 of the Highways Act 1980 (England & Wales) makes it an offence to discharge a firearm within 50 ft of the centre of a highway with vehicular rights without lawful authority or excuse, if as a result a user of the highway is injured, interrupted or endangered.

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