What is ovariohysterectomy (spay)?
Ovariohysterectomy (spay) is a surgical procedure where a veterinarian removes the entire ovaries and uterus. This causes sterilization of a female dog. There is a procedure that only removes the ovaries, however this is only done at specialty clinics and is not offered at Brentwood Animal Hospital.
Should I elect for an ovariohysterectomy on my dog?
The veterinarians at Brentwood Animal Hospital recommend spaying all female dogs. There are several benefits to the procedure – medical, behavioral and for society. Medically it reduces the risk of mammary, uterine, and ovarian cancer, decreases the risk of a life-threatening uterus infections (pyometra), and prevents heat (estrus) cycles. Sterilized (spayed) females live longer lives than unaltered females. Behaviorally it decreases the impulse to escape and find a mate and decreases the risk of having an anxious dog. Altering a dog significantly helps with pet population, decreasing the number of dogs roaming the streets without proper care or homes.
Risks and Side Effects
Our recommendation at Brentwood Animal Hospital is to spay your female dog because the benefits of ovariohysterectomy greatly outweigh the risks associated with the procedure. Risks include:
- Any surgical procedure has small risks associated with anesthesia, bleeding and infection. Here at Brentwood Animal Hospital there are highly trained registered veterinary technicians that will monitor our patients throughout the entire procedure. They will be monitoring the heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation, carbon output, blood pressure, and more during the entire procedure. Our AAHA-accredited hospital has a state-of-the art surgical suite and utilizes the highest standards in sterilization, significantly decreasing the risk of bleeding and infection.
- Spaying your dog will decrease their metabolism, increasing the possibility of obesity. However, we recommend monitoring their food consumption more closely after his procedure. Regulating your dog’s caloric intake will prevent the risk of obesity.
- Spaying large breed dogs before bone development is complete has been shown to have increased risk of cruciate (ACL ligament) tears and hip dysplasia along with other bone deformations. There is a newer study showing that waiting until 1 year decreases these risks. Our opinion here at Brentwood is that this study was not large enough nor conclusive enough to outweigh the risk of mammary cancer development after one estrus cycle. Therefore, we recommend spaying your dog at about six months of age or before their first heat. Based on your patient’s breed and history, our veterinarians will provide your pet with a customized recommendation.
- Spaying your dog does increase the risk of urinary incontinence in a small number of patients, typically seen in middle-aged and older females. Even if it does occur, this can be medically managed and less of a risk than cancer.
When should I spay my dog?
We recommend spaying most females at about six months of age. There is a newer study showing that waiting until 1 year decreases bone and vulva abnormalities. Our opinion here at Brentwood is that this study was not large enough nor conclusive enough to outweigh the risk of mammary cancer development after one estrus cycle. Pending other factors, our veterinarians will discuss if your dog may benefit from waiting until they are older. If you have questions, please let us know.
How is the procedure performed?
Your dog will be dropped off the morning of the procedure, fasting for a minimum of 8 hours. The veterinarian performing the procedure will examine your dog and evaluate their pre-anesthetic blood panel. If everything is normal, your dog will receive an injection (pre-anesthetic) that makes them sleepy and helps with pain. We will place an intravenous catheter, so we can administer fluids during the procedure and have an open port for emergency medication if needed. A breathing tube will then be placed to protect her airway and allow for anesthetic gas and oxygen to be administered during the procedure.
The surgery consists of making a small incision into the abdominal wall and then the veterinarian will remove the uterus and both ovaries. Your dog may have a few skin stitches or absorbable stitches depending on what the veterinarian believes is best for her. The veterinary technician will then monitor the patient as they wake up and remove the air tube when appropriate. We keep your pet in the treatment area to make sure they are monitored for the remainder of the day while they are here. We allow our patients to go home the same day, so they can be monitored overnight and be in the comfort of their own environment.
The hardest part of recovery is trying to keep your dog calm for the 10-14 after the procedure. They will be sent home with either a collar or shirt to prevent them from reaching the surgical site and causing trauma to the area. They will also be sent home with pain medication. There should be no running, jumping, stairs, swimming, and bathing during recovery time. They should only be allowed outdoors on a leash and no long walks.