Spaying (aka neutering) is a very common surgical procedure performed on female dogs around the world.
Owners usually opt for spaying their pets to prevent unwanted litters and take advantage of several potential health benefits (but also risks as seen here).
That being said, a spayed female is less likely to develop mammary cancer, uterine cancer, or a uterine infection.
When not spayed, females go into season every six to twelve months or so.
For some owners, this time can be difficult.
Not only do they have to keep their females away from curious and rowdy males, but they also have to deal with the bleeding.
After a female has been spayed, she should never again experience a season (‘period’) or vulval bleeding.
Do Spayed Female Dogs Have Periods?
No, spayed female dogs don’t have periods anymore since their ovaries are usually completely removed.
The ovaries are needed to produce the hormones that result in a female going into season or having regular periods.
Some surgeons will also remove the uterus. This is known as an ovariohysterectomy rather than an ovariectomy.
Regardless of the surgical method, females should no longer experience seasons.
Can a Spayed Dog Still Get Pregnant?
No, if a female has been spayed correctly, she should never be able to become pregnant.
If only her ovaries have been removed, while the uterus is retained, she will not ovulate.
The exception would be if the surgeon failed to remove all ovarian tissue or the female had ‘ovarian remnant tissue’ left behind after her spay surgery.
Ovarian remnant tissue is very uncommon.
In that case, estrogen continues to be produced so a female may still show signs of oestrus.
Some females will even allow a male to mate with them, but they will not become pregnant.
Those with ovarian remnant syndrome can experience a pseudopregnancy or false pregnancy.
These females can show all the normal signs of being pregnant, including mammary gland development, lactation, and an enlarged abdomen.
However, when these female dogs are scanned, no puppies will be found.
Do Female Dogs Still Smell After Spaying?
When a female has not been spayed and is in season, she can attract unneutered (and occasionally even neutered) males from miles away.
The scent released is not one that you or I can pick up on but is obvious to any dog in the vicinity.
This is an evolutionary mechanism that was important so that a female could attract the local males to mate with her and ensure she got pregnant and passed on her genes.
Nowadays, it is a nuisance to the owners of an unspayed female.
This is especially true for those who live rurally or send their dog to places such as doggy daycare.
When a female is attractive to a male due to her scent, owners need to be very cautious.
The female must be walked on a lead at all times, ideally away from other dogs.
If she encounters an unneutered male, he may become aggressive if not allowed to mate with her.
Indeed, this is a common cause for owners getting bitten; as they try to prise the boisterous male away.
Thankfully, once a female has been surgically spayed, she will no longer produce any smells which attract males.
Importantly, there are certain medical conditions that can mimic the smell of oestrus.
For example, a dog with anal gland disease may smell similar to one in oestrus.
This will confuse a male, who might try to mount the female, even if she has been spayed.
If your female is neutered but males are showing interest, have your vet check her anal glands.
Spayed Female Dog is Bleeding From Private Area
Alarm bells should ring if you notice blood around your female dog’s private area when you know she cannot be in season and the bleeding is not caused by external injuries.
This tells us there is something amiss. This is true regardless of age or breed.
It is generally accepted that after a female has been neutered, we would not expect them to bleed from around their private area.
Why Do Fixed Female Dogs Bleed?
There are many issues that may cause a fixed female dog to bleed such as ovarian remnant syndrome, urinary tract diseases, vaginitis, stump pyometra, stump granuloma, cancer, or simply a foreign body.
Ovarian Remnant Syndrome
As discussed, sometimes ovarian tissue is left behind after spay surgery.
This most often occurs when the surgeon has failed to remove all of the ovarian tissue.
Bleeding will be accompanied by other signs of heat such as a change in mood and a swollen vulva.
Females will think they are fertile and may try to attract males and mate with them.
The diagnosis of this condition is not always straightforward.
It typically involves imaging studies, blood tests, and vaginal cytology.
It’s crucial that the tissue that was left behind is completely removed.
This is because the estrogen present can contribute to the development of certain cancers and there is an increased risk of a reproductive tract infection.
Also, until all the tissue has been removed, your dog will continue to have ‘fake’ seasons.
Urinary Tract Disease
A urinary tract infection or bladder stones will regularly lead to blood in the urine.
We may also see drops of blood around the vaginal area and in the fur.
Additional signs to be on the watch for include: Peeing more frequently, drinking more, and having accidents within the home.
Inflammation of the vagina can cause localized discomfort, swelling, and bleeding.
Adult-onset vaginitis is mostly seen in spayed females.
You might notice a foul smell and see a small amount of blood mixed with a clear or purulent discharge.
Affected females are usually uncomfortable and might lick their vaginal area obsessively.
Some dogs will pass urine more frequently and in drips and drops rather than large streams.
Vaginal cytology and vaginoscopy usually confirm the diagnosis.
After the surgery to remove the uterus and the ovaries (a spay surgery), on rare occasions, there will still be a small amount of reproductive tissue left within the female.
This can secrete a hormone called progesterone. Uncommonly, this tissue can become infected.
You may see a bloody, foul-smelling discharge.
Additional signs can include excessive thirst, panting, fever, and lethargy.
Surgery is often needed to remove the infected tissue and dogs will usually be stabilized with intravenous fluids, pain relief, and antibiotics.
Inflammation of the remaining uterine tissue is generally caused by a suture reaction.
Some dogs will have a concurrent local bacterial infection.
Using absorbable suture material can minimize the risk of a stump granuloma developing.
Cancer can occur anywhere along the remaining reproductive tract and may or may not be visible to an owner.
As well as a bloody discharge, we might notice signs such as weight loss.
A foreign body within the vaginal wall
It’s possible your female caught a foreign material such as a grass awn when squatting outdoors and this, in turn, forms an abscess.
This can cause a bloody discharge and local infection.
Vets should be able to detect the abscess on a physical exam.
Treatment is to remove the foreign matter, flush the area and start the female on medicine including antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
It is not uncommon for bleeding coming from the anus to be mistaken for vaginal bleeding by owners.
This can occur due to e.g. colitis or anal gland disease.
Your vet should be able to make the distinction after a thorough physical exam.
Bleeding immediately after a spay surgery
In the first few days after spay surgery, some females will have a blood-tinged vaginal discharge.
Generally, this is not something to be overly concerned about.
It should only be a small amount of blood and your female should be in good spirits.
Do let your vet know, so they can advise you if any further action is warranted.
Female Dog Bleeding After Being Spayed
Remember, it is never normal for your female to still bleed after her spay surgery.
If the bleeding is in the initial days following surgery and there is not much, this will likely resolve without treatment.
However, make sure your vet is aware of what is going on.
If she bleeds and displays signs of being in season, she will need corrective surgery to remove any remaining ovarian tissue.
There are several other causes of vaginal bleeding and it is important we reach the correct diagnosis.
This will involve several tests, including vaginal cytology and a urinalysis.
The Bottom Line
Don’t expect your spayed female to continue to bleed.
Once she has been neutered, she should not have another season.
Any bleeding from her private area should be examined promptly.
Most causes of continued bleeding can be easily resolved, though surgery will sometimes be required.Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.