Ovariohysterectomy in Dogs

Ovariohysterectomy in dogs, also known as spaying, is a procedure of removing the ovaries of a female dog, to make her unable to have any more puppies. An ovariohysterectomy is recommended for all dogs to control the rate of reproduction and to reduce the number of puppies that don't get adopted by families.

The Ovariohysterectomy Procedure

The ovariohysterectomy is a surgery that involves the removal of the ovaries of the dog. Some vets will also remove the uterus. Before the procedure, the vet will assess the condition of the dog to see if the surgery can be performed and that there are no major risks involved. The procedure may be performed employing the traditional technique (with scalpel incisions) or it may be a laser surgery. The laser surgery is easier and will result in a faster recovery, but it is more expensive. Both techniques are equally effective.

Surgery Risks

The ovariohysterectomy surgery may have certain risks including:

  • Excessive blood loss during the procedure (very rare, especially if the surgery is done with laser beams)
  • Allergic reactions to the anesthetic
  • Infections after the surgery; may be prevented if the vet prescribes antibiotic treatment and the incision wounds are monitored

After the surgery, the dog should get special attention and should be prevented from licking or biting her stitches. If needed, a lamp shade collar will be recommended. The surgery wounds should heal within two to three weeks.

Ovariohysterectomy Benefits

An ovariohysterectomy can control the reproduction of dogs. If this procedure is performed in the majority of the dogs, it can be a viable solution for dog overpopulation. The ovariohysterectomy procedure may also have a few health benefits for the dog:

  • No risk of reproductive system tumors
  • Reduced chances of mammary gland cancer, especially if the procedure is performed while the dog is young
  • No pregnancy complications

In addition, the dog's behavior will be quiet and more affectionate. The intensive hormonal activity may cause the dog to be agitated or aggressive at times. When the ovaries are removed, the dog will no longer produce as many hormones as before.

When to Perform the Ovariohysterectomy

The ovariohysterectomy procedure may be performed at any time during the dog's life.

However, if you want to choose the best time, most vets will recommend spaying the dog just before she gets her first heat cycle. This cannot be precisely determined and may vary according to the dog's breed and diet. However, the first heat cycle is most likely to occur when the dog is six to 12 months old. When performed this early, the spaying procedure is less complex and will have fewer possible complications.

The ovariohysterectomy is not recommended during pregnancy, but may be performed even during this time. However, this can cause a lot of complications and may be a risk for the mother and the puppies.