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Female starting 1st heat cycle

I have always had shelter dogs before so I have never had to make the decision to spay them or not since the shelter already did.

I have had my girl since she was 8 weeks & originally assumed I would get her spayed. I hit a financial snag when she was about 4mos & that wasn't my highest priority. Soon after, the idea of her going through an unnecessary surgery, getting healthy body parts hacked out all because thats just what people do, disturbed me greatly. Family, friends & even the vet discouraged keeping her intact telling me I needed to "fix" her because "What if?" (A phrase if I hear someone say, basically giving me the green light to tune them out. If there is a way to have a reasonable conversation with a "what if" person then I would love to hear it.) Besides my sister, she is cool. She doesn't tell you what's best for you, but instead helps you figure it out with out tossing her 2 cents in everytime she can. Anyways I was discussing it with her late summer and she said she ran across the paperwork recently for when she got her lab/JRT neutered in 2017 when he was about 10mos. She gets to the list of all the medicines he was on during this procedure, it had to be about 10 different things & right then I knew to listen to my instincts.

I have no plans on ever breeding her. My ex-MIL had a purebred yellow lab she originally planned to breed, but never did. So I know there are some health concerns pertaining to intact females, especially once they get older. But that basically is like me going to get my uterus removed so I won't be at risk of developing uterine cancer. Well kind of like that.. I also won't be at risk of drowning in the ocean if I don't go in the ocean...

My point is I am not going to have her spayed but I have next to no idea what signs she may show right before she starts. Other than an actual period I am clueless. She is 11mos, my mom keeps saying she thinks my dog is about to start her period but she has been saying that for about 4 mos so she's probably just talking. It is hard to tell by looking at her vulva right now. The past few days she has been attached at my hip, but I have been stuck in the house for the last week & she is used to going out and about with me everyday or every other day. I usually take he down the street to the doggie daycare 1 - 2 times a week but she had a bad ear infection last week so I didn't take her there. I was about to walk her up there today but I am a little worried if she is starting her cycle some dogs might try and get fresh with her. She is quite a cutie.


Scratch Kingz
Staff member
There are a lot of benefits to spaying her. If your not going to breed her and your going to keep her intact expect pyrometra to happen. As well as reproductive cancers that will start around 8 years of age. The pyrometra can happen way sooner. I've lost 2 females to uterine cancer and it's awful to watch them go through it. I breed dogs however I now spay them around 8 to avoid them dying by 10 from cancer or pyrometra.

The first sign you'll see about a week out from a heat cycle will be her vulva will become noticeably swollen. She'll start to bleed a few days later. I write everything down. It allows you to fairly accurately predict when her next one will be.


Little Dog
The last female dog we had was intact most of her life. She never got pregnant. In addition to her vulva swelling, I noticed Molly def had a more pronounced wet dog like odor.

There are things on both sides to be said for altering. I don't agree with pediatric spay/neuter. I think with those young dogs the risks outweigh the benefits. Sex hormones serve more purposes in the body than just reproduction. We will get our new pup spayed but I am going to wait until she's a year probably before I do it. The reason I will be spaying her is just as the PP said. Pyometra. Molly got it when she was 10. She was in the beginning stages of sepsis and thankfully did NOT have a rupture. She still almost died and had to have emergency surgery. She was never the same dog after that. She lived to 14 but sometimes I wonder if she would have lived longer had that not happened.