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Spaying and Incontinence in Dogs
Written By: Carol Petersen, RPh CNP - Pet Health Pharmacy

What is Spaying?
Spay surgery sterilizes a female dog and prevents her from getting pregnant. Usually, both the ovaries and the uterus are removed. Another option is to remove only the ovaries or only the uterus.

Unspayed female dogs go into heat about once every 6 to 8 months and it lasts for as long as three weeks each time. During this time, a female dog is receptive to mating with males. She may appear nervous, easily distracted and more alert than usual. She may also urinate more often than she normally does and produce a vaginal discharge. Unless they're spayed, female dogs regularly go into heat for their entire lives. In addition to eliminating the odor and behaviors associated with being in heat, spaying is thought to have several additional benefits.
  • Spaying reduces risk of certain illnesses, such as uterine infection and mammary gland cancer.
  • Spaying reduces pet overpopulation. Millions of dogs are put down every year because there aren't enough homes for them.
  • There are even claims for increased longevity in spayed animals. 
The spay procedure has its equivalent in human healthcare and is known as a complete hysterectomy (ovaries and uterus removed) or an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). This procedure is sometimes referred to as "surgical menopause." As with a human hysterectomy, spay surgery leaves a dog without her full complement of sex hormones, such as estrogen. 
A Life without Hormones
Since spaying is done when pets are quite young, they will experience a lifetime of essentially being in menopause.  Some veterinarians are starting to question this practice and are looking at the long term health consequences of a lifetime without sex hormones. Bone cancer, ligament tears, and incontinence tend to be more common in spayed dogs. 

Is Chocolate Poisonous to Dogs?

With Valentine's Day around the corner, make sure you know what to do if your dog gets into the chocolate treats. This informative video explains not only how much chocolate affects dogs, but why. 

Thank you to Brain Stuff - How Stuff Works for the informative video!

Talking With PHP Pete
Dear PHP Pete, 
My dog and I are totally in sync!  Apparently, we even get sick together.  We both have a cold.  I've been taking cough medicine to get some relief and was wondering if I could give a small amount to my dog. Is this ok?                                                        
 Sincerely - 
Under the Weather Together

Dear Under the Weather Together,

Many human medications are used to treat pets.  Unfortunately, there is not always a simple answer as to what dose should be given to our furry friends.  Animal dosing is often based on weight, whereas human adults may receive fixed doses.  There are physical and chemical differences between humans and pets. A medication that is commonly used in people may be toxic or even deadly to animals.  Many cold medications contain a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®).  These medications are toxic to some animals and are rarely used in dogs and cats.  For example, acetaminophen cannot be broken down effectively in cats. This causes toxic substances to form which attach to liver cells and destroy them.  These substances can also alter blood cells so they no longer carry oxygen to the body.  Ibuprofen can cause ulcers and/or holes to form in the stomach or small intestine and may cause kidney damage in dogs.  Cats are even more sensitive to this drug.  Cough medications such as dextromethorphan (Robitussin®) and guaifenesin (Mucinex®) are sometimes used in pets, but should only be used as recommended by your vet.

Coughing, sneezing, or a runny nose may not always indicate a "cold."  While dogs and cats can get colds (not contagious to us), there are many possible causes of these symptoms.  Other viral, bacterial, or fungal infections are possible and may require antibiotics or antifungals.  Environmental allergies can also impact pets and may require antihistamine drugs.  More serious infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, valley fever (in the US southwest), and kennel cough (in exposed animals) can also cause these symptoms.  Your vet can help you determine which medication is right for your pet. 

In the meantime, you can help your furry friend (and yourself) by providing lots of water to drink and placing a humidifier near bedding or allowing her/him to stand in a steamy (but not too hot) bathroom to try and relieve congestion.  If the illness is a cold, symptoms should improve within a few days, if not seek veterinary help, particularly if your pet is very young or old.  


Richardson, J. (2000). Management of Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen Toxicoses in Dogs and Cats. J Veter Emer Crit Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 285-291.

Staff at Pet Health Pharmacy

Pet Health Pharmacy
 800.742.0516 |
12012 N. 111th Avenue | Youngtown, AZ  85363