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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Change of ways after spay

Good morning,

Is it normal behaviour of a 14-month-old Siberian Husky bitch to become aggressive immediately after being spayed? My normally placid dog was spayed on Monday this week and since has become aggressive and guarding of bones and toys.
Could this be as a result of my dog being in discomfort after the operation, and is likely to subside in a few weeks, or do I need to be more concerned? We are due at the vets on Friday for the post op check up but her sudden change of behaviour is concerning me.

Thank you,

Dianne Evans, Burnley

Alison Logan, vet, advises…

This kind of behaviour sounds to me like the nesting we associate with a false pregnancy. I wonder how long it was after she had been in season that your bitch was spayed? We aim to spay at the ‘quiet’ time of the bitch’s reproductive cycle, approximately four months after a season. Before that, the bitch is going through the changes of pregnancy whether or not she has been mated and is expecting a litter. 

A so-called false pregnancy can manifest with quite disturbing behaviour changes, nesting and even aggression, much as you describe. It is perfectly normal, but is a reason for spaying once all the signs have resolved, and there is a medication to help with this.

By now, you will have taken your bitch for her post-operative check and it will be a month after she was spayed so all should have settled down. At this point, I would advise you to have her weighed because a bitch can gain weight rapidly unless you have cut back on her ration. Spaying slows the rate of metabolism so she will need to eat less to maintain her weight. A spayed bitch does not have to gain weight, it just need vigilance to avoid it happening. Weighing every month is a good regime as it will allow you to pick up on weight gain at an early point and take action because the weight will be hard to shift because of the metabolism having slowed down.


  1. I believe that the post-op check will do the trick as the vet will then be able to address any problems and advise you on the right way to go if this is a behavioural not medical issue. When I had my dog castrated, he was rather drowsy and sorry for himself, but he is a more laid-back, sensitive dog in general. This could simply be the personal way your dog reacts the the surgery. Good luck with the check-up.

  2. It is possible that the anesthetic has had a temporary effect on your dog's behaviour, as will any pain or discomfort she is feeling.

    There is some scientific evidence that spaying can cause behavioural problems which include aggression. Also it can take some time for your dog's body to settle down after the operation. You may find that she still shows problems around the time that she would naturally have come in to season as the brain chemistry releases its hormones.

    Hopefully this is a temporary problem for you and a chat with the vet on the post op check up should help with your concerns.

    Olwen Turns SAC Dip - Behaviourist Cloverleaf Canine Centre