Reproduction and Reproductive Health

Dog – Spay

It is of the utmost importance to spay female dogs to minimise the chances of mammary gland cancer and to completely cease the chances of endometritis and pyometra. Spaying involves removal of the uterus and ovaries.

Here are some statistics to understand the importantage related effects of spaying on development of mammary gland cancer in female dogs.

  1. 5% Risk – If spayed before the first heat (6 months of age)
  2. 8% Risk -If spayed after the first heat
  3. 26% Risk -If spayed after the second heat
  4. >26% Risk – If spayed at <2 years of age
  5. High risk – If spayed after 2 years of age

It is highly recommended to spay all female cats before the age of 6 months to significantly reduce the risk of mammary gland cancer. However, spaying a cat at any age certainly reduces the chances of mammary tumour development.

Uterine Infection and Cancer

We have seen severe illness in female dogs arising from uterine infections such as pyometra. Spaying an infected uterus at this stage can be extremely risky for a female dog, and it also turns into an expansive surgical intervention.

Spaying a dog/cat/rabbit certainly reduces the chances of uterine infection/cancer and ovarian cancer down close to zero.

Pregnancy, Whelping and Caesarean Section

Is your bitch in heat?

Clues include:

Is your bitch pregnant?

Pregnancy in dogs lasts roughly 9 weeks. In the early stages there are generally no obvious signs. In the last few weeks you may notice abdominal distension (may be visible earlier depending on the size of your dog/number of pups), and mammary gland enlargement. Milk will typically start being produced within a few days of birth. Dogs can also have “phantom pregnancies” where they show these signs despite there not being any pups.

Pregnancy Diagnosis

Pregnancy can be diagnosed in a number of ways, including

  1. i) blood testing (progesterone levels),
  2. ii) ultrasound or x-rays. The method chosen depends on how far along in the pregnancy she is. This also can give an indication of when the birth is likely to occur.

Temperature can be measured twice daily in the week leading up to birth, and is expected to drop to 37.0˚-37.8˚ C when she is roughly 12-24 hours away from giving birth.

In Stage 1 of labour there may be mild intermittent contractions, and the bitch will often show “nesting” behaviour (trying to make a bed/area she is comfortable in).

Difficulties in whelping

The following are signs of dystocia (trouble giving birth):

  1. No signs of birthing noted within 24-36 hrs after temperature drops
  2. No pups produced after 12 hours of Stage 1 labour
  3. No puppy produced after 30 minutes of active labour (consistent strong contractions)
  4. No puppy produced after 2 hours of intermittent contractions
  5. Dark green or smelly discharge before birthing
  6. Severe bleeding from the vagina
  7. Signs of pain (yelping during whelping; depression; hyperventilation)

If any of these are noted then veterinary attention should be sought. These can be an indication that a caesarean may be required.

At Canning Vale Veterinary Hospital, we are fully equipped to perform all of the above tests including blood progesterone, X-rays and ultrasound.

Caesarean Surgery

Our operation theatres are fully equipped to deal with caesarean surgery if needed.

Cat – Spay

It is a good idea to spay a female cat after the age of 5 months. Female cats usually display estrous behavior in very strange ways and most cat owners think that their cat is ill. As with dogs, unspayed female cats can develop pyometra.


At Canning Vale Veterinary Hospital we preform prescrotal open castrations in dogs and open scrotal castrations in cats.

Age for dog

Usually a dog can be castrated after the age of 6 months. However, we recommend that large breed and giant breed dogs should be castrated when they are around 9-12 months of age. We understand that testicles synthesize and secretes the hormone testosterone which plays a significant role in growth of the male dogs, particularly in muscle development and bone maturation.

Does castration reduce aggressive behaviour?

In many cases, testosterone makes male dogs more dominant and territorial, and this may increase engagements with other dogs in good or bad ways.

Benefits of Castration

Besides improvement in behaviour, castration has some life saving benefits for dogs. Castrated dog are less susceptible for prostate cancer, prostate abscess/cyst and prostate enlargements that can make dogs very unwell.Prostate problems can be treated, but surgery is often very expensive. Diagnosis includes blood tests, abdominal ultrasound followed fine needle aspiration of the prostate and pathological examinations. Dog may stay on antibiotics and pain relief for a while.


We recommend male cat castration after the age of 4 to 5 months depending on body weight. It is extremely important tohave your male cat castrated to avoid them straying, fighting and the possibility of them fathering kittens.


Rabbit can be castrated at any age after 12 weeks. Many of our clients have told us that their entire male rabbits have been humping on the legs or on the face of the clients, and that this stopped after castration.

In Western Australia it is going to be compulsory to spay and castrate dogs and cats. Please refer to the Department of Agriculture website for latest updates.