Can an older pet be spayed? - Dr. Marty Becker

Can an older pet be spayed?

Monday, Nov 13th, 2017 | By Dr. Marty Becker

senior dog

A reader just adopted a 7-year-old dog from her local shelter, and was concerned about having her spayed at that age. First, I want to thank her for adopting a senior pet! Second, here’s my answer:

Q: I just adopted a 7-year-old dog from the shelter, and they require me to have her spayed. Is that safe for a dog her age?

A: Every dog is an individual, of course, but in general a healthy 7-year-old dog should not have a problem undergoing spay surgery. There are good reasons to spay your new dog. She is still capable of bearing puppies at her age, and she is at risk for a serious and sometimes fatal uterine infection called pyometra, which can affect older unspayed females.

Take her to your veterinarian for a thorough physical. Before any surgery, it’s important to perform blood work and possibly a urinalysis to ensure that the dog doesn’t have any underlying health issues that could cause problems during surgery.

If you’ve had a puppy who was spayed, you probably remember how quickly she bounced back after surgery. Older dogs may take a little longer to recover, so be sure she has plenty of opportunity to rest and has good pain medications on board. Some veterinarians were taught to withhold pain relief after surgery to keep the dog quiet, but we know now that pets who receive pain relief before, during and after surgery recover more quickly.

During surgery, your dog should have an IV catheter with fluids to help maintain blood pressure, hydration and body temperature, as well as to give emergency drugs rapidly, if necessary, and to help flush the anesthesia from the body afterward. Blood oxygen and blood pressure monitoring equipment are important, too.

I know it probably worries you to have your dog undergo surgery, but as long as she gets a clean bill of health from your veterinarian, she should come through it with no problems.

Read more, including on caring for a pet with cancer, in this week’s Pet Connection!