Jun 6, 2011 6:32 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP Animal Care Clinic, San Luis Obispo
The first heat cycle in a dog is usually at 5-8 months of age, but can be as early as 4 months in some cases.
Dogs then cycle about 1-2 times a year. They have a very different cycle than people do.
The vast majority of veterinarians recommend spaying dogs and cats before they ever come into heat. Doing this will eliminate all chance of uterine and ovarian cancer and give you a 99 percent chance there will be no breast cancer. One heat cycle takes away much of the protection against breast cancer and 2 heat cycles will eliminate all of that protection.
There is a myth that dogs cannot get pregnant on their first cycle - they most certainly can! Years ago our profession recommended waiting until 6-12 months of age to perform a spay. This was based on the safety of anesthesia. Today's anesthetics are safe in pets far younger than 4 months, so there is no need to wait so long for the spay.
At Animal Care Clinic we recommend spaying at about 4 months of age. Since most dogs will come into heat between 5-8 months of age, this will protect almost every puppy from breast cancer.
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