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What To Do? Spay Her!
Question: My teen-age children and I have a medium-sized, mixed-breed female dog. I am not exactly sure what breeds she is because she was a dog my children's father had and couldn't keep. She is basically a good dog. I have had a dog as a pet most of my life, but not a female who was not spayed. I am not sure how to tell if she comes in heat. What I should do? She is outside when nobody is home, but our yard is completely fenced in. Any help you can give me would greatly appreciated. -- C.A., via the Internet

Answer: My friend Penny Worel, who has as much animal-savvy as anyone I've ever known, helps me out with my sometimes overwhelming daily dose of e-mail. Her answer cannot be improved on, and I share it with her permission:

"Run, don't walk to the nearest vet and have her spayed. She will be happier and healthier, and you will be saving yourself a million headaches. Females usually come into heat every six months. The heat lasts approximately 21 days. It begins with a swelling of the vulva, and then she will begin to have a bloody discharge. Females will try every means possible to find a mate at this time. In addition, males from a 10-mile radius will converge on your house, and no fence ever built will keep out the more aggressive suitors.

"The only safe method of keeping her from being bred is to put her in a crate inside your house. She can only go outside on a leash, and you should be prepared for a few bold suitors to follow wherever you go."

Penny puts it more kindly than I would. Here's the bottom line: Having an unspayed dog is a royal pain in the fanny. You can also add the annoyance factor to the possibility of bringing unwanted puppies into the world and the increased risk of cancer to your dog for every day you delay. Well, what are you waiting for?

If cost is an issue, call the folks at your local humane society. If they don't have their own program, they can direct you to some reduced-cost alternatives in your community.

Write to Gina at Write2Gina@aol.com! Letters may be used for her syndicated column, and may be edited for space and clarity. Pet Connection content is copyright by the Universal Press Syndicate, all rights reserved. For information on subscriptions or reprints, call (816) 932-6600.

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