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Thread: Spaying a bitch: recovery time

  1. #1

    Spaying a bitch: recovery time

    I have a 7yr old cocker; she has a small lump which the vet suspects might be a mammary tumour. We have been recommended to have the lump removed and the dog spayed at the same time. The vet has said that she will be able to work as soon as the stitches are out (10 days); is this long enough? She hunts fairly hard, and I don't want to rush things. At the same time, I don't want her laid up unnecessarily
    Last edited by Moonraker68; 05-11-2014 at 18:59.

  2. #2
    Why not have the lump biopsied and know for definite whether it is a tumour. It could be mastitis.

  3. #3
    I would never argue with a vets advice, as I'm no vet! However, I read an interesting article a few months ago in the Shooting Times on the very subject of removing these lumps. The author, David Tomlinson I think it was, said that on some occasions where he had his dogs operated on, other lumps came back and fairly quickly. On the other hand, he had bitches showing a lump thought to be a mammary tumour that he decided to leave. On some of those occasions the lumps got marginally bigger but over years. On other occasions they got no bigger and the dog still lived for years with no ill effects.

    I too have a wee cocker bitch who will be 8 in February, with a small 1" lump along her teat thought to be a mammary tumour. I'm in two minds whether to remove it or not. Since discovering it a month or so back there has been no change to its size or shape.

    I put my GWP down last month, aged 11. She had a large mammary tumour that eventually grew to the size of a tennis ball before being removed. During the OP they x-rayed and found no other obvious signs of cancer in the form of tumours. Within about 2 months I noticed a growth again, and this time it seemed to come back with a vengeance, causing her health to fail and it spreading to her bowel.

    Is is it possible that we jump to the conclusion surgery is needed when perhaps it could in fact speed something up???? I'd be interested to also hear what the vets in the forum say.

    Sorry for hijacking the topic a wee bit mate...

  4. #4
    OK, Moonraker68 question first - Personally if she's a really hard worker, I'd give her 2-3 weeks post surgery before work.

    General point regarding mammary masses. Most are benign (3/4) of the malignant, 2/3 of them behave as if they are benign. But you can't tell until they are sectioned after removal as many are mixed (so fin needle biopsy is not much help). Spay a bitch before her seasons start = no mammary tumours. Spaying after you've seen a tumour makes no difference to the incidence of tumours afterwards. However, what spaying will do is prevent ordinary mammary growth that can be mistaken of rumours, so saving unnecessary ops to remove cystic tissue.

    Moonraker68 - you could ask about removing the mass now and spaying her after the shooting season

  5. #5
    Just had the same op on my retired 12 year old springer only she had an infected womb and an ovarian tumour as well as several mammary ones. It knocked her back a bit but after around 3 weeks she is back to normal.

    atb Tim

  6. #6
    Thank you for the replies, we'll need to give it some thought and, without sounding selfish, try and work it so she is out for as few shoot days as possible; she'd miss it as much as I'd miss her.
    Last edited by Moonraker68; 05-11-2014 at 20:16.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Buchan View Post
    OK, Moonraker68 question first - Personally if she's a really hard worker, I'd give her 2-3 weeks post surgery before work.

    General point regarding mammary masses. Most are benign (3/4) of the malignant, 2/3 of them behave as if they are benign. But you can't tell until they are sectioned after removal as many are mixed (so fin needle biopsy is not much help). Spay a bitch before her seasons start = no mammary tumours. Spaying after you've seen a tumour makes no difference to the incidence of tumours afterwards. However, what spaying will do is prevent ordinary mammary growth that can be mistaken of rumours, so saving unnecessary ops to remove cystic tissue.

    Moonraker68 - you could ask about removing the mass now and spaying her after the shooting season
    Hi Buchan

    From your post I'm I gathering that in almost all cases spaying a young bitch before her first ever season generally means no mammary tumours later in life?

    I take it if not spaying so as to breed, even if after having a litter if pups say at 3-4 years old, there is still a good chance of tumours appearing thereafter?

  8. #8
    Mammary tumours generally have sex hormone receptors so tend to grow when the bitches hormones increase during a season and in the period afterwards up until she would give birth. If the bitch is spayed before her first season her chance of developing mammary tumours is almost zero.

    There was an interesting paper published last year suggesting that if a bitch was spayed at the same time as mammary tumour removal there is a 50% reduction in recurrence of tumours. It's a small study but we would now generally recommend spaying at the time of tumour removal.

    As Buchan points out - biopsies are frequently inconclusive and the tumour types can be mixed so you may select either a good or bad sample. We would generally advise removal, neutering and send the mass off for histology to see what we are dealing with.

    I have known tumours to rapidly spread and grow back following surgery, but they generally are the aggressive tumours that would spread aggressively if left alone! If my dog had a mammary tumour then I would remove it without delay. I have seen some terrible mammary tumours over the years - removal when small is less painful for the dog, technically easier and makes wide margins into healthy tissue easier and therefore reduces the likelihood of the mass recurring if nasty.

    Hope that helps.

    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.

  9. #9
    I have a pup of 6 months and have been asked by my vet about spaying. I'm not planning any litters so would it be recommended before her first season? Are there any side effects to this procedure so early in the dogs life?
    Also, a friend just had his collie spayed via keyhole (I can't remember the actual name of the procedure). Is this method generally available and is it the same op just without the larger incision?

    Again, apologies for the hijack.

  10. #10
    The risk of a bitch developing mammary tumours if spayed before the first season are virtually 0%, but there is a small increase in the risk of the bitch developing lifelong incontinence.

    If you spay the bitch after the 1st season the risk of her developing mammary tumours remains very small and the risk of incontinence is lower.

    Our practice policy is to spay 3 months after first season, but we will do them at other times if the owner wants. The increased risk of incontinence is very small. There is not an absolutely correct answer.

    If you don't intend to breed then I would advise neutering (I intend to do our puppy after her first season).

    The keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery is gaining popularity. There are studies showing less pain and faster healing. Full work at 10 days may be possible if done that way. The cost is greater and the operating time can be longer. With good surgical technique and adequate analgesia the benefits are very small.

    In answer to the OPs question, I would agree that 3 weeks before full work would be more reasonable.

    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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