Q: My 8 year old Boston terrier, China, had heat cycles every 6 months when she was younger, but she hasn’t had a heat cycle in almost two years now. I assumed she went through menopause but my veterinarian told me China still needs to be spayed, why?
A: Menopause does not occur in dogs. In fact, female dogs will continue having heat cycles into their senior years and can still become pregnant. The average un-spayed female dog has two heat cycles per year, although it isn’t unusual for some dogs to only experience one heat every 12 months.
A major change in a dog’s heat cycle frequency or duration could signal a serious problem though. Long delays between heats or cessation of heat cycles could result from infections, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, adrenal disease, or ovarian cancer.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, dogs that have heat cycles more often than every six months, or have prolonged heat cycles could have hormonal imbalances, ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer.
I share your veterinarian’s concern for China’s health. The Boston terrier is a breed known to have a greater risk of ovarian tumors, as are poodles and German shepherds. Intact female dogs are also at risk for the life threatening uterine condition, pyometra. I would definitely follow up with your veterinarian for a health workup before scheduling her spay appointment.
Did you know?
It isn’t unusual for dogs to eat less during summer- especially if they spend time outdoors in hot weather. Hot temps cause bodily stress that can suppress a dog’s appetite. Plus some dogs and pet owners are less active outdoors as the mercury rises, and this drop in activity means less demand for refueling at the dog bowl. See your veterinarian if your dog refuses all food, or if the drop in appetite is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, or obvious weight loss.