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D2002-15

Dear Daisy Dog

Our 7-month-old Irish setter was just spayed. When human females no longer produce estrogen, they get hot flashes and have to worry about bone loss. Does a female dog have the same problems when her ovaries and uterus are removed? Should we give our girl calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis?

Daisy Responds

Let’s start with the easy question. Osteoporosis is rare in dogs; it only occurs secondary to another serious disease. As long as she is eating a high quality dog food, there is no need to give her additional calcium. Indeed, calcium supplements may cause other problems.

Now, on to hot flashes. I was spayed before my first heat (to minimize my chances of getting mammary cancer), and I didn’t have hot flashes, probably because I hadn’t entered puberty yet.

But I’ve never talked with females who were spayed after their heats started. Perhaps they do have hot flashes, but most vets doubt it because dogs have estrus cycles while humans have menstrual cycles.

The estrus cycle gives dogs only one or two heats per year. Between heats, unspayed females go through a prolonged period of anestrus, when we have very low levels of estrogen and progesterone.

So if a dog is spayed during anestrus, it’s unlikely she will experience enough hormonal change to trigger hot flashes. But if she’s spayed during or shortly after her heat, perhaps she does experience temporary hot flashes.

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