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What is the procedure?

‘Spaying’ is also known as an ovariohysterectomy. This literally means removal of (‘ectomy’) the ovaries and uterus (‘ovariohyster’). This stops the bitch from having regular heat cycles and from being able to reproduce.

Should I get my bitch spayed?

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to spaying and ongoing research means advice is constantly evolving. It is a decision that should be based on the age, breed and your aims as an owner, carefully considering the benefits and risks. If you are at all unsure, then don’t hesitate to discuss the decision with us at Orchard Vets.

So, what are the proven benefits?

  • Eliminates the risk of uterine or ovarian cancer.
  • Eliminates the risk of developing pyometra (pus in the uterus). This is an entirely preventable and common condition that can prove fatal. Some insurers may not pay for treatment (which is spaying!).
  • Reduces the risk of developing mammary cancer later in life
  • Protection against unwanted pregnancies.
  • Eradicates oestrus behaviour and associated bleeding.
  • Prevents pseudopregnancy.

When should I get her spayed?

Generally between 5 and 30 months old and ideally 2-3 months post-season. However, there are exceptions, such as breeds that are predisposed to urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence (USMI) or in bitches with juvenile vaginitis. In these instances we may recommend spaying later in this interval or after her first season. It is advised to spay 2-3 months after her season to reduce the risks of bleeding during surgery or developing a phantom pregnancy.

What are the potential complications and risks of the procedure?

Spaying is one of the most common operations performed in veterinary practice. Providing the bitch is in good health and aftercare protocols are followed, serious complications are extremely uncommon. However, despite being a routine surgery, minor to major complications can occur and it is important that you are aware of them.

  • Slippage of ligatures and bleeding. This can be a life threatening complication that occurs during or after the surgery and requires immediate surgical intervention.
  • Haematoma, abscess or seroma. Accumulations of blood or fluid below the incision may occur and will generally resolve without intervention. More rarely, pus may accumulation and require antibiotics. This is very rare due to careful aseptic technique.
  • Infection and wound breakdown. Stopping her from licking her incision and restricting exercise is important in preventing this.
  • Herniation. Rarely, the internal or external stitches fail allowing fat or abdominal contents to come through. This may have serious consequences and requires prompt surgical intervention.
  • Anesethetic risk. Multiple measures are taken to reduce this risk and your pet will be closely monitored at all times. The weight of the patient and length of anaesthesia are some factors that increase the risk.
  • Weight gain post surgery if her diet is not adjusted appropriately.
  • Mild gastro-intestinal upset post surgery that is usually self-limiting.
  • Very rarely a portion of reproductive tract may be left requiring further surgery.
  • Though extremely rare, damage to the urinary tract or bowel are recognised possible complications.

A special mention: Rottweilers

There is some evidence to show that rottweilers are at an increased risk of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) after spaying.

What should I expect after the procedure?

Your bitch will go home the same day as the surgery. She will be given a buster collar or medishirt to prevent her from licking her incision. She will need to have her exercise restricted, only going out to the toilet on the lead for the first 3 days.

We will see her for a check up 3 and 10 days post surgery to make sure she has recovered from the anaesthesia and that there are no complications that need addressing. At the 3 day check up exercise will be discussed and gentle lead exercise may be advised depending on the progression of healing