How to Tell if a Female Dog Has Been Spayed

By Gryphon Adams

It isn't always possible to tell if a female dog has been spayed. A spay tattoo is a clear sign. Spaying serves as a humane means of population control to reduce unwanted puppies and stray dogs. Early spaying, by age 6 months, reduces the risk of potentially fatal breast cancer, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Challenge of Telling if She's Spayed

Many spay clinics tattoo the incision with a green line so shelters and veterinarians can identify dogs who have been fixed. Without the tattoo, it's difficult to be certain of a dog's status. Because dissolving sutures are becoming more common, there might not be any stitches to feel. Dogs in the U.S. are generally spayed at 5 to 8 months old, according to Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Education website. Dogs spayed young might not retain a scar from the surgery. If there is a scar, it could be from a different cause.

How to Find a Spay Tattoo

The spay incision is a vertical line low on the dog's belly between her teats and genitals. Get her to roll onto her back in a well-lit spot. Soothe her with a calm voice and petting. Look for a green line. Move her fur in different directions to examine her skin. If you don't see the green line tattoo, using a pet razor to carefully shave the center of her lower abdomen will make it easier to examine her skin.

Veterinarian Exam

If you don't have medical records for the dog and there isn't a spay tattoo, take her to a veterinarian. The vet can examine her and may perform an ultrasound to find out if the dog has her ovaries and uterus or not. Because it's difficult even for a vet to tell if a female has been fixed, tattooing is becoming more common to avoid the risk of unnecessary surgery.