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Sally, my seven-month-old collie cross, is acting very strangely. She keeps licking at her genitals and I have noticed a few blood spots on the floor. She is having no difficulty passing urine and her appetite is unaffected. She has not been spayed because we would like her to have puppies so that she can experience motherhood. Is it possible that she is in season?

Alison Logan advises…

Although a bladder infection can result in red or pink spots of urine on the floor, from what you describe it is more likely that Sally is indeed in season. You could collect a urine sample and drop it into your veterinary practice to be checked for signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), but there is generally pain and discomfort on passing urine, causing the affected dog to ‘bop’ repeatedly and strain to pass only small amounts of discoloured urine.

My general advice when a bitch is in season is to confine her to barracks for the full three weeks. Many bitches keep themselves clean, washing their female parts where the red discharge is appearing. Taking her out for exercise will simply advertise to all the dogs in the neighbourhood that she is in season and you do not want casual callers at your door! I find it extraordinary when out walking how often a dog walker will shout across to me to keep my dog away because his or her dog is in season. My dog is castrated anyhow, but why walk your bitch in season and risk an entire dog rushing over to meet his natural urges?

Like many veterinary practices, we recommend spaying before a first season to avoid unwanted matings, or certainly after a first season. ‘Experiencing motherhood’ is a wonderful ambition, but Sally will be no different once the puppies have gone and you will need to find homes for them, which may number as many as eight or more. Just imagine how many puppies there would be needing homes if every bitch needed to experience motherhood once before being spayed!

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