Doggy Birth Control
October 11, 2009 11:06 AM   Subscribe

How can I stop my dog from getting pregnant?

I live in Africa, in a big compound. I have 3 dogs, let's just say they are mutts and border line strays. I have given them anti-tetanus injections and anti-rabies injections. They climb the fence to get out of the compound around the full moon almost every month. 2 are girls. They are all brothers and sisters.

One of them is obviously in heat. She was bleeding and howling. We locked her up - she has had puppies before, none lived (possibly because they were inbred from her brother or dad?). She howled all night and no-one slept. This went on for a week. Then she/one of her suitors totally destroyed her dog house and so she can't be locked up anymore.

Spaying the girls is going to be REALLY expensive as people here tend only to neuter boy dogs. My dog may be pregnant already, can I spay her anyway?

Is there any other form of birth control I can use?
posted by pick_the_flowers to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
Doggy abortions are possible. Ask your vet if there is any way to get financial aid (or some kind of 2-for-1 or discount on your two females if they are done at once?). Otherwise give them away. Seconding what balls said- a major factor here in people adopting pets from the SPCA is whether they have already been spayed/neutered or not.
posted by variella at 12:04 PM on October 11, 2009

I have heard of doggie birth control pills. Mostly used by breeders to control pregnancy in dogs they don't want to breed every season. I don't know of the cost, but I do know they exist. I'd ask a vet.

Also, my understanding is that vets will usually abort fetuses automatically upon request if they find them when they are spaying, so I think it is pretty common. My sister is involved with a feral cat catch-spay-release program and often those cats will already be pregnant. They just abort while they spay. It's pretty routine here (in the U.S.).

Good luck!
posted by Bueller at 12:19 PM on October 11, 2009

It doesn't look like there is any widely-marketed canine contraceptive available in the US or Europe (mostly rumors and press releases about products that don't seem to exist, from a Google survey); breeders generally keep their fertile females away from anything that might possibly accidentally impregnate them as means of avoiding unwanted breeding. (And if there was a way in the US for vets to make money off something, they'd be selling it. They're not, and neither are the online sites, so I'm thinking no.)

Spay is going to be your best bet, and you can spay a pregnant female (but the sooner the safer), but if your local vets are mostly agricultural (and/or large-animal vets), you may not find a lot of interest in taking on the extra complications.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:38 PM on October 11, 2009

I lived in Peru with a family with a lot of dogs, half of which were female. We built a roomy cage for them to stay in when in heat (it was about 6ft x 8ft and had a dirt ground, shade from a tree and she was watered and fed regularly). It will likely be more affordable to build another cage / room / hut for them than to spay them. (It's also very expensive in Peru to spay.) If you are concerned with the potential "home-wreckers," I recommend something with a base of bricks or cement blocks. A roof is likely unnecessary if you build it tall enough.
posted by cachondeo45 at 12:43 PM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

For those who are interested in the current state of companion animal contraceptive research, here's a long and very interesting survey from Science.
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:56 PM on October 11, 2009

I am not trying to be snarky, but I think you should consider whether keeping these dogs safe, and in doing so creating more dogs that you can't handle, is better than letting them go. Circle of life and all.

I say "can't handle" because I think it is extremely difficult to keep a female dog from getting pregnant without taking major preemptive measures. Spaying, though expensive, is the best way to handle this situation.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:36 PM on October 11, 2009

[A few comments removed. More with the answering the question, less with the lectures and such please.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:38 PM on October 11, 2009

Ok, I'm sorry about my earlier (since deleted) judgmental comment. Kudos to you for taking in strays - more people should.

I'm a little hazy on the detail, but I seem to remember that you can't spay a bitch while she's going through oestrous (on heat). Until such a time as you can spay her/them, how about a shop-bought plastic/metal crate inside the house (not locked - just somewhere she can consider a safe place).

Neutering the male dog would prevent unwanted puppies, but if the bitches come into contact with other male dogs, that won't help - so it all comes back to the unfortunately expensive spaying. Are there any dog sanctuaries near you? One near me offered spaying at half the price of a normal veterinarian, so that could be worth looking into.
posted by idiomatika at 3:03 PM on October 11, 2009

The dog training class I went to told us to use dog pants for bitches in heat, but what I've found online seems to be more to prevent stains. This site suggests using Vicks or similar to mask the scent of estrus.
posted by brujita at 9:18 PM on October 11, 2009

You can keep a bitch in heat from being as crazy to get out as they otherwise will be by keeping her sedated, using the fairly inexpensive anti-histamine Benadryl (doggie dosage chart at link). This does nothing to directly affect the dog's fertility, it just makes them sleepy, so they don't howl as much, or destroy their cages and restraints, trying to get out to mate.
posted by paulsc at 9:42 PM on October 11, 2009

You can get a dog spayed when it is pregnant. In this case, the spaying procedure is also an abortion. (My understanding of veterinary surgery is not that great, but I think that the normal spaying procedure involves removing the uterus, ovaries, and closing off the top of the vagina; it's what in a human would be called a "radical hysterectomy with oophorectomy".) I think that's the solution and I can't imagine that in the long run it will be more expensive than continued contraceptives for the life of your dog. The only reason I can think of to have a dog on contraceptives is if you want to use it for breeding at a later date.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:47 AM on October 13, 2009

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