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Old 03-30-2014, 09:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default health, spay, and adoption of new puppy

So...its been a week and I still just adore this girl every bit as the first day I saw her. Aside from the house-training difficulties and car sickness, she has been amazing. However, I am running into a bit of a bump as far as the adoption process goes.

1) The shelter told me (a week ago) that she was only 12 weeks old. I thought she was at least 16. But nevertheless, the shelter requires that she be spayed before the adoption is approved. Before. There are no vouchers. No allowing her to at least reach 6 months of age. They have her scheduled to be spayed tomorrow. So she will be either 13 weeks old, or a bit older, but she is certainly not 24 weeks by any stretch of the imagination. So, what are the issues I should be wary of with a puppy spayed so young?

2) I think she has a mild upper respirator infection. She had a runny nose 2 days ago (kinda goopy), she has a mild eye infection (minor goopies and tearing), and a sort of cough that happens off and on. The cough is not what I would normally call a "cough" though. But, its also not a wheeze or hacking. It also sounds like a cough thats been cut short. She will do it both while resting and during/after play as well as sometimes during eating or drinking. This started about 4 days ago. I will be bringing her to the vet tomorrow morning as I was directed for the spay, but I want to speak with the vet (who thankfully is my own vet) about her current condition. I am not comfortable with her being spayed if she is not 100% to begin with, and with this being a shelter case I don't even know if they will do a blood panel/thorough checkup or even offer her pain meds (I've been told in many cases they dont).

So, how old do YOU think she is?
What are your thoughts on the two issues above?

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Kaiser ~ Jan 25, 2012 (GSD)
Dakota ~ Oct 2005 (GSD/Collie)
Kya ~ (Cat)
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Studies show that females spayed that young can become incontinent and some are very leggy
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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She's adorable!!!

Offer to pay for the blood work and anything extra that the shelter doesn't typically cover. If your vet thinks she has a URI and can exempt her for a week of abx, that could help. I would ask for that, though I have seen sick dogs go through speuters (HW+, undiagnosed respiratory issues) okay, I would want to delay it until that cleared, especially since it's been ongoing for 4 days and is not clearing.

It could also be a symptom of roundworm. Why Is My Dog Or Cat Coughing? I would want to wait until a week after a de-wormer is done.

So bottom line for me is can my vet get me that extra week so that I can get her in a better place for the surgery.

You are in the south and shelters are now really trying to stop the people adopting to breed cycle (or adopting and then dogs breed by oopsie). There are so many things you can, and will do, to impact her health in a positive way (weight is a huge one - good nutrition, exercise) and her genetics will play a huge part in her overall health anyway, and how her body reacts. has some information for what you will probably be hearing.

I have a 9 yo next month female 50# mix from NC spayed at 8 weeks. She has bad hips, had one FHO which was curative for that hip, and the other is maintained well with supplements - since she was not xrayed at spay, I don't know what her hips were like before I had her checked. She had one URI once. Knock wood - she's had almost 9 great years so that to me is a success. I have an 8 yo male 65# mix from SC who was neutered probably at 5 weeks. Yeah - that's earrrrrly. There were complications with the anesthesia - have to be honest - we tried to get the puppies without them doing the surgeries then, but that was their policy - he has some issues/delays but 5 weeks is hugely different than 8 even. He goes to the vet 1x a year again, knock wood! The rescue I volunteer with now goes for 14 weeks. They come out of their speuters ready to play.

I'd also ask them to do a bleeding time test. They are like $10 at my vet office and while not perfect, give me a tiny piece of mind with breeds that are bleeders.

Good luck!

eta - re - spay incontinence -
[Update: a retrospective study published in April 2013, found the incidence of spay incontinence to be just a little over 5 percent. The study also found no correlation between incontinence and the age of the dog at the time of spay. Larger dogs (over 33 lbs) were about 7 times more likely to develop incontinence after spaying than smaller dogs. See Evaluation of the prevalence of urinary incontinence in spayed female dogs: 566 cases (2003–2008) for more information.]
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I feel your concern, but as a shelter person myself I can tell you that it is frequently (most states) the law that we cannot finalize until the animal is spayed. I agree that it is often too young, but that is the reason my Tar was neutered at 14 weeks, even with me being the executive assistant at my shelter If it makes you feel better, I have never seen any really ill effects from the animals we have sent to be altered at such an early age. Would they have grown bigger? Maybe..who knows?

Also...if she has an URI (and she most likely does..bordatella is a fact of life with shelter animals) the vet or clinic will probably opt to postpone the surgery. Make sure that they know that she is already pre-adopted. At the clinic we use they will sometimes go ahead with surgery on an unadopted animal depending on how bad the URI is, but they will usually NOT do the surgery if the animal has already been in a home and is pre-adopted. You can guess the reasoning behind that one

Thank you for adopting your baby!!
Jocassee..Labrador Retriever 11-12-09
Tar...GSD 1-7-2012
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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This is common practice with shelters, since it is pretty much impossible to enforce spay and neuter after adoption. In my experience younger dogs seem to handle it better and heal in no time. I don't think there is more complication with these S/N than in adults. I fostered countless dogs, and never had incontinence issues because of spay. On the other hand most vets will not do elective surgery on an animal whose breathing is compromised. It sounds like mild kennel cough, very common. Your vet will probably send her home and do the surgery after it clears.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone!! Tar Heel Mom, I do feel a bit better after reading your response. I had Dakota spayed at between 6-8 months of age (gosh it was so long ago I can't recall when!) but the rescue did work with me on a time frame. It was private though. The SPCA here seems pretty adamant about a spay NOW, which I certainly DO understand, since they don't know me from the next person. I will definitely see if I can at least argue for an extra week or two to get her healthy again. I figure its a war that should be fought one battle at a time, especially for such a young dog.

Jean, I think I will definitely do that!!! Its MY home she will be in, so whatever the extra cost it will be worth it for my peace of mind.

Stosh, I thought I had read something about that.

As far as approximate age...what do you all think?
Kaiser ~ Jan 25, 2012 (GSD)
Dakota ~ Oct 2005 (GSD/Collie)
Kya ~ (Cat)
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The complications one gets into with early spay/neuter are not related to recovery from the surgery but from way premature removal of harmones. It is now pretty much accepted that early spay (and by early I mean before 2 or 3 years old) leads to compromises in ortho health of the animal. It is more contested but now considered that spaying/neutering seems a factor in other health issues such as cancer.

I don't have the links to the studies to provide but an internet search should lead to the discussion.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I do think there is much growing evidence that early spay//neuter can potentially lead to some pretty severe problems. That being said, it's a shelter pet. And as someone else mentioned, in many states there are laws. No adoption until an animal is altered. Shelters simply can not break those laws.

It's one of those "necessary evils", in my mind. I would never want an animal altered that young. But if I'm rescuing from a shelter situation, I understand it, because they're simply trying to fix their problem, and they don't know you from the family down the road that would want their dog to have puppies simply so she can be a "mommy"
~Emergency Vet Tech

Berlin vom Spartanville 1/13/13
Zeke 5/25/07 - 2/9/15
Luther 2008 - 7/23/12

"Make sure my shepherd dog remains a working dog, for I have struggled all my life long for that aim." - Max Von Stephanitz
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