Routinely spaying girls?

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_PeachyPetite_
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Routinely spaying girls?

Post by _PeachyPetite_ » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:30 pm

I was just wondering how many of you do this, and if it's something you would recommend? Apologies if this question has been asked a lot before, I did a quick search but not too much came up. I did find a thread on the old forum though, saying that if you're going to do it, around 6 months is the best age.

I'd never considered doing this before reading about it on here, but it does seem like it may have a lot of health benefits, particularly regarding lumps. I've lost rats to lumps before and it does seem to be something which is very common among females. Do you generally think it's something I should consider? I'm really not sure, since any surgery is a big risk for such small animals.

I'm going to ask the breeders of my rats what their opinions are on it, and I thought perhaps I'd make an appointment with my vet just to talk about how they view routine spays for small animals, and what their recommendation would be. From reading bits and bobs on here, I get the feeling it's only worth it if your vet has a lot of experience and knows exactly what they're doing. I'd have to ask some questions and do a lot of research before I'd do it I think. On that note, are there any particularly stand-out vets you know of in the Bristol area?

I just wanted to get an idea of the general consensus before looking into it really. I'm really not sure if it's something I should be thinking about doing.
Charlotte x
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ZDP-189
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by ZDP-189 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:33 pm

My vet wasn;t particular keen on the idea preferring to do the lad instead. I gather it's a lot quicker to do makes and less chance of death under anesthesia.

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NellyNoodle
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by NellyNoodle » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:37 pm

It's a difficult one and one I've been pondering a lot too. It seems like a really good idea, but for me the thought that I could potentially risk losing just one of my girls under surgery is enough to put me off for now. Also, although my rats aren't 'sexually active' I really love watching their antics when they're in season and would miss that a lot. Also not sure how I'd feel about someone coming along and doing it to me lol, though sometimes I wonder!

Having said that, the potential health benefits do make it something worth seriously considering.

I think you definitely need a confident, experienced vet, and to be prepared that no surgery is without risk. It might be something I decide to do in the future.

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NellyNoodle
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by NellyNoodle » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:39 pm

ZDP-189 wrote:My vet wasn;t particular keen on the idea preferring to do the lad instead. I gather it's a lot quicker to do makes and less chance of death under anesthesia.

Male castration is easier, and if you're doing it to allow both sexes to live together and not for health reasons it makes sense, but the health benefits for males aren't generally considered to be as great as for females, who are less likely to develop both lumps and pituitary tumours (more common in females than males) if spayed.

Also I think the OP only keeps girls ;)

ETA - I'm not saying there are no health benefits from castrating males, because there are.

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_PeachyPetite_
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by _PeachyPetite_ » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:42 pm

That's exactly it Nelly, I feel really quite conflicted about it. The thought of losing one during surgery I've just decided to have done (as opposed to a 'necessary' operation) breaks my heart.

I think it's something I'd have to think about for a long time, and do a lot more research into before making a decision. I just wondered how most other people felt about it because it really doesn't seem like a clear 'one way or the other' type situation. There are arguments for both sides.

(and yep I'm only keeping girls :) )
Charlotte x
Nymphadora, Juniper and Novalee ^_^ And an extra special mention to Wendy and Lupin (sleep tight little lady xx).
Arrietty, Amber, Daisy and Valentine, always remembered :rattyrainbow:

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Rinoa391
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by Rinoa391 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:49 pm

I dont think its worth the risk, i know its common for females to get tumours ive had alot develop them in the past BUT ive also had many females that havent developed them.

Also most tumours are easily removed when they do appear and out of all the rats ive had with lumps ive only ever had 2 pts because of a lump that couldnt be removed..the rest went on and died of unrelated problems at a later age.

I think theres some breeders that also spay on removal of a lump so that may be an option?

(I cant advise on spaying to prevent PT's though because ive only come across it once and havent really given it much thought)

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neotoma
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by neotoma » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:03 pm

I'd do it at the moment, with my present vet. He has a very high survival rate on surgeries, and for him, a rat spay would be a simple routine thing. I very much doubt that a rat spay in his hands is any riskier than a cat or dog spay, and most people would recommend that as routine, and beneficial for the animal.

If the rats I'm definitely not going to adopt in Australia end up being females, I would certainly consider doing it - the health benefits seem substantial, and Siana on here who does now spay routinely has reported a significantly increased average life-span in her rats (from twenty-something months to thirty-five months), which is in line with what I've seen in neutered boys (average of 30 months).

However, before I'd do it in Australia, I would grill the vet in depth.

My general view is that a slightly more serious operation young is preferable to one or more lump removal operations in old age - which is when most lumps become an issue. The other thing I might take into account is the background of the rats -rats from a line with known low incidence of lumps are a different kettle of fish to random rescues, or rats from a line known to be lumpy. I'd also consider the respiratory background, as the girls I've had who have been pts for lumps were also chronically respy, which made operating undesirable. Respiness is something that gets more serious in older rats as the myco scarring reduces lung capacity, so again, surgery when young makes more sense to me if it reduces the risk of need for surgery when old.

As I said on another thread, whether or not you want to spay routinely, I think it is a good idea for a girly owner to know where a competent vet for spays is, because it's the kind of thing that can come up as a sudden emergency.

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_PeachyPetite_
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by _PeachyPetite_ » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:18 pm

What do you think are the best kinds of questions to ask when deciding whether a certain vet is appropriate for doing this type of surgery? Or rather, what are the essential questions to give you a fair representation of their skills and how confident and knowledgeable they are? I know it'll come across in how they approach the subject, but just so I go in armed as it were (should I decide to look into this further).
Charlotte x
Nymphadora, Juniper and Novalee ^_^ And an extra special mention to Wendy and Lupin (sleep tight little lady xx).
Arrietty, Amber, Daisy and Valentine, always remembered :rattyrainbow:

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neotoma
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by neotoma » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:36 pm

Well, I've not had to do it before (my family has been with the same vets practice since the 50s :shock: , and a very good exotics vet fell into our laps in 2008, just as I was becoming aware of the need for one with rats). However, what with emigrating, it's now an issue I'm thinking about.

The obvious first question is 'have you done it before?' No wouldn't be an absolute deal-breaker (see below) as everyone has to start somewhere, but it wouldn't be my favoured answer.

Next, I'd ask about their survival rates. Rats actually survive surgery very well, so I wouldn't entrust an op to a vet who thought they didn't or who had low survival rates in surgery. You can't expect a 100% rate, because sometimes the occasional rat will die due to the anaesthetic, but I would expect a rate in the high 90s%.

I'd also ask what types of anaesthetic they use - I'd normally expect a vet to use isofluorane gas on a rat, not an injectable.

If they haven't done rat spays before, I'd ask about what other small furry surgery they've done. If they've never spayed a rat, but have spayed lots of guinea pigs etc, I'd be less worried than if they'd never operated on anything smaller than a rabbit or cat.

Finally, I'd apply a certain amount of instinct - a vet who is less experienced, but open to suggestions, listens, and is willing to contact a more experienced vet (e.g. if I had a not very experienced australian vet, I would expect them to be willing to talk to my exotics specialist UK vet for advice), is better in my view than a vet who has experience but thinks they know everything, won't listen to owners, and won't contact colleagues and admit ignorance.

However, what I'd actually do before asking any questions is try and get recommendations for a vet from other rat owners who have been there and done that.

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KatieJ
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by KatieJ » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:41 pm

While I agree that spaying a rescue doe with an unknown/pet shop background is seriously worth considering, with well bred rats there a hugely reduced risk of the various lumps/pyos etc and I really think that's something you need to discuss with your breeder in the first instance. They will be able to tell you how many of your rats relatives have such issues and may not want this operation performed at all on the kittens they are homing out.

With regards to how to judge a vet, you ideally want a recommended one, or at least one who has experience in small animal surgery.or just one you have a good relationship with and you really trust.
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wantouts
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by wantouts » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:43 pm

I've also asked this question recently and have just discovered lumps on 2 of my girls over the Christmas period, they are going to have their lumps removed next week and I am going to have them spayed at the same time. I am also going to consider spaying my other 2 younger girls in the near future for preventative measures.

It is obviously a completely personal decision but I have lost 3 girls to lumps over the past year and I think if anything can stop that from happening again then I am willing to try, I also have it on good authority that the vet I use is very competant and has performed this operation many times before, I would be less likely to have it done if I wasn't sure of the vet.
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_PeachyPetite_
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by _PeachyPetite_ » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:50 pm

I think the vet we're already registered with would be my first port of call, as they've always been absolutely brilliant with the cats (which I know is a bit different but they're always lovely, always listen and do definitely seem to know what they're doing).

They're an exotics vet, and they have rats listed on their website as animals they treat. We actually asked them if they knew of any reputable breeders in out area when I decided I wanted to keep rats again. They didn't know of any, but did say they were really pleased to hear we were looking into breeders as opposed to just going to a pet shop. They seemed very aware of how things should be done when getting pet rats, so to me that's a good sign.

I think what I'll do is speak to Lisa and Sharon and see what their take on it is. Then I'll have a very careful think and perhaps schedule an appointment to discuss things with my vet (depending on what they say). Then I should have a clearer idea of what I think is best for the girls. If 6 months is a good age for a spay (circumstances permitting) I at least have a few months to think on it and do my research.

Thank you once again guys, I really appreciate your input.
Last edited by _PeachyPetite_ on Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Charlotte x
Nymphadora, Juniper and Novalee ^_^ And an extra special mention to Wendy and Lupin (sleep tight little lady xx).
Arrietty, Amber, Daisy and Valentine, always remembered :rattyrainbow:

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_PeachyPetite_
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by _PeachyPetite_ » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:53 pm

KatieJ wrote:While I agree that spaying a rescue doe with an unknown/pet shop background is seriously worth considering, with well bred rats there a hugely reduced risk of the various lumps/pyos etc and I really think that's something you need to discuss with your breeder in the first instance. They will be able to tell you how many of your rats relatives have such issues and may not want this operation performed at all on the kittens they are homing out.

With regards to how to judge a vet, you ideally want a recommended one, or at least one who has experience in small animal surgery.or just one you have a good relationship with and you really trust.
Oh God yeah Lisa and Sharon would be the people who's opinions and advice on this will matter to me most. They know the most about their lines etc. I'd never do it without speaking to them first (as I said I'm planning to ask their opinions when I pick the girls up). I was just thinking about it and wondered what other people's thoughts were :)
Charlotte x
Nymphadora, Juniper and Novalee ^_^ And an extra special mention to Wendy and Lupin (sleep tight little lady xx).
Arrietty, Amber, Daisy and Valentine, always remembered :rattyrainbow:

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KatieJ
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by KatieJ » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:31 pm

I've been keeping girls for 20 years now, and have just had a little think about them all. Up to today and not including my does who are under 1year I have had 22 does (only 3 from a breeder, the rest were rescue/pet shop).

5/22 had one mammary tumour removed and no reappearance.
1/22 had repeated mammary lumps.
1/22 had pyo.

So not too bad going considering. When I forst heard that spaying helped reduce mammary lumps I thought about it and my personal decision was to wait and see if any mammary lump appeared and then if it did, have it operated on while small and spay at the same time, because 15/22 girls never had a problem and spaying would have been somewhat unecessary.
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NellyNoodle
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Re: Routinely spaying girls?

Post by NellyNoodle » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:55 pm

Those are really impressive stats Katie!

I've only had 6 adult does since keeping rats myself as an adult (the existing 4 are kittens).
3/6 had mammary lumps, but all died of other things, so I don't see lumps as the big issue. Also with Evie, the last of mine to have one, treatment with Galastop shrunk the lump to nothing so that's probably something I'd try before surgery in the future. The issue for me is pituitary tumours, as 3/6 (one of which also had a mammary lump) had them and they really are heartbreaking.

I think it's really good that you're doing your research and thinking about these things, whichever route you decide to go down.

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