As a pet owner, there are times when you, and you alone, have to make the really tough decisions. The decision on whether to spay your female JRT is one of the most important ones you will make.
There are many who are on both sides of this debate, and each can present a pretty strong argument. However, in the end, it is up to YOU as to what is best for your JRT. The one thing you need to keep in mine at ALL times is the health and welfare of your companion. Nothing else matters.
The question is—is spaying the proper option for your JRT?
To help you decide lets take a look at the benefits and the downsides—pros and cons—of having this procedure done.
I am sure there are many who are for spaying that will say there are more benefits than just the ones listed below for spaying your JRT. But, keep in mind that we are just looking at the commonly mentioned ones.
Heat Cycles—anyone who has a female JRT knows the nuisance that is the heat cycle. Not only is it messy, with the possibility that your carpet or furniture can be permanent stained, lets not forget the embarrassment of your JRT constantly licking herself and shamelessly flirting with every male dog she sees. You have to be on constant guard duty, making sure that she does not escape for a midnight rendezvous. And what if her heat cycle coincides with a planned vacation? More often than not, that vacation may have to be pushed to another time. The worries of your JRT getting away from you, or of complications due to hotel or visiting arrangements may just make the vacation—well, a non-vacation. And the issue of boarding and the required vigilance may only increase worries.
Uterine Infections—it is estimated that 1 in 4 unspayed female JRT’s will develop a deadly infection called pyometria. The uterus will fill up with pus, becoming toxic, and can become life threatening. If this occurs, emergency spaying is required, and with your JRT already being sick from the infection, and most times middle-aged and elderly, the chances of survival are greatly diminished. The thing to keep in mind is that pyometria IS preventable, by spaying your JRT when they are still young and healthy.
False Pregnancies—it is common for an unsprayed JRT, a few weeks after her heat cycle, to have what is called a “false pregnancy”. Basically this is where her body reacts as if she were pregnant—her belly swells, her nipples may produce and leak milk, and your JRT may become very attached to her stuffed toys. This may all seems harmless, but the hormonal changes that your JRT experiences during this time can affect her entire body. Some JRT’s develop serious, sometimes life threatening, infections of the mammary glands known at mastitis.
Actual Pregnancies—plain and simple, spaying prevents unplanned, unwanted, and to be honest unnecessary pregnancies. If your JRT should become pregnant—either deliberately or accidentally—there are multiple risks during the pregnancy and during giving birth. Not counting the expenses of vetting and being properly educated on the breeding and birthing of JRT’s, there is a very good possibility that complications may arise during, or following, the birth that can cause the untimely death of your beloved companion.
Breast Cancer—the fewer amount of heat cycles your JRT experiences, the less likely chance she will develop mammary gland tumors, the most common form of breast cancer in canines. If you have your JRT spay before 2 ½ years of age, her chance of developing breast cancer is drastically reduced. Basically, the less amount of heat cycles the less chance of complications.
Uterine and Ovarian Cancer—this is just a little extra added piece of mind, as these cancers are not common in JRT’s
Again, there are sure to more examples of reasons to spay your female JRT. We are just touching on the more commonly mentioned ones here.
Doubled risk of obesity—when a JRT is spayed, her metabolism is altered. The problem of obesity arises when you continue to feed her the same amount after spaying as you did before. Since her metabolism has slowed, she will not need as much at each meal. Monitor how much you feed her, and make sure she has plenty of exercise.
Hemangiosarcoma Cancer risk—it has been determined that your JRT’s reproductive hormones seem to provide some protection against this particular form of cancer, which generally attacks the heart and spleen. Spayed females are twice as likely to develop hemangiosarcoma of the spleen and are five times as likely to develop hemangiosarcoma of the heart.
Hypothyroidism—studies have shown that the reproductive hormones affect the endocrine system as well when removed. This results in lower thyroid levels which in turn results in lethargy, obesity and hair loss. The up side is that the lower thyroid levels can be maintained with daily thyroid medication.
General Anesthesia—with any surgery there is a risk of complications due to the anesthesia. However, studies have determined a 20% of spaying procedures experience bad reactions to anesthesia, as well as internal bleeding, inflammation, infection, abcesses and sutures coming undone. The good news, most complications are minor.
Too Young at Spaying—spaying your JRT at too early an age can affect her normal development because her reproductive hormones play an essential role in that development. Complications can include:
Hip dysplasia and ligament rupture—this occurs when the necessary hormones aren’t available and this causes the leg bones to grow unevenly.
Urinary incontinence—occurs naturally in middle age due to the decrease in hormones. When your JRT is spayed to young, there is an early onset of this condition. A life long regime of hormones will be necessary to control leakage of the bladder.
Osteosarcoma—the risk of this cancer is tripled. However, it may occur in smaller breeds, but is usually limited to larger breeds of canines.
The moral of all of this is to educate yourself on spaying, and decide if having this procedure performed is right for you and your companion. And above all, do not spay until the reproductive hormones have had time to provide their most important role in your JRT’s development.