Ovariohysterectomies in Dogs (Spay)

Ovariohysterectomies in dogs is a surgery that involves removing the uterus and ovaries. This procedure can be performed in puppies as young as 12 weeks. Although this surgery is sometimes considered a “routine surgery”, it is in fact a major surgery requiring general anesthesia and sterile operating techniques.

Usually the reason for surgery is to prevent pregnancy and estrus (heat period), but it can be necessary when treating medical conditions, such as severe uterine infections, ovarian and uterine tumors.

Advantages A popular advantage of spaying is the elimination of the heat period- which occurs every 6 months, and lasts up to 3 weeks. Estrus in dogs can be messy and time consuming, and even with the best of care, accidents can happen resulting in pregnancy.

Dogs, just like people, have mammary cancer. Dogs spayed while they are young, especially prior to their first heat cycle, rarely have mammary cancer when they age. Uterine infection is another health risk that is eliminated with spaying your dog. The advantages for spaying definitely outweigh the disadvantages.
Prior to surgery Our doctor will do a physical examination prior to surgery to ensure there are no health issues that will interfere with your pet’s safety during anesthesia. Also prior to anesthesia, lab work is recommended to rule out potential kidney, liver or blood disorders.
A mild sedative and pain medication is given before surgery. Pain medication given prior to surgery actually helps to relieve more pain than when given after surgery. Research has shown that when we control pain, and make our patients more comfortable there is faster healing and recovery.

Anesthesia An IV catheter is placed prior to surgery so that we can give multiple injections and keep your pet on IV fluids during surgery. IV fluids are administered to maintain blood pressure and help protect kidney function. An IV injection of a drug or combination of drugs is given to induce anesthesia. The patient is maintained during surgery in a controlled plane of anesthesia with an inhalant anesthetic, isoflurane. Using a combination of anesthetic drugs helps contribute to a steady plane of anesthesia, as well as quick recovery after surgery. Because of the type of anesthesia protocol we use, we are able to discharge our patients the same day as surgery. Maintenance and monitoring Our hospital uses Pulse Oximetry equipment, which is a non-invasive method of monitoring the oxygenation of the patient’s blood. The slightest change from normal levels will trigger an alarm giving the doctor an advantage of being able to respond quickly to any problem. A trained veterinary technician stays with the patient during the entire surgery, monitors temperature, respiration rate, and continuous EKG (cardiac rate and rhythm). Our surgery veterinary nurse has cared for and monitored our surgery patients here at I-20 Animal Medical Center for over 30 years.

Surgery Our doctor will make an incision into the abdomen, tie off blood vessels and remove the ovaries and uterus. The medical name for the spay operation is ovariohysterectomy (OHE).

Dogs in estrus can be spayed, but because the surgery is more difficult and time consuming (due to the increased blood circulation of the uterus), there is an increased fee. Also be aware that dogs spayed while in heat can continue to attract male dogs because hormone levels remain high after surgery and the scent may linger. Take precautions that your dog is not exposed to other male dogs until she has had several weeks to heal.

There are many reasons we recommend spaying your dogs while puppies, and prior to their first heat. One reason is that if a dog has a uterine infection, surgery can become complicated with potential serious risks. Picture a uterus filled with purulent exudate (pus). Sometimes there is so much pus present that the uterus will weigh several pounds, depending upon the size of the dog. This type of infection can cause serious health issues and even death. When an old overweight dog is also in heat or has a uterine infection, the operation becomes more complex which can lead to important risk factors.

Recovery After surgery, we transport your pet to an area for anesthetic recovery. Because of the type of anesthesia protocol used, and the pain medications given, including a lidocaine block along the incision line, your pet will have a smooth recovery and will be ready to go home later that day.
Home care Once you are home, offer only small amounts of water at first – give your dog some time to adjust to water and food after surgery. If she does well with small amounts, you can increase the amount you offer. Restrict her exercise for 7 to 10 days, if she is very active, consider walking her on a leash outside. Watch to make sure she is not excessively licking or chewing at the incision. Make sure you give her pain medication that she received when discharged from the hospital. Pain medication works best when given consistently. If you miss a dose you are “chasing the pain”, and pain control will not be as effective. And, as always, we are here 24 hours a day. Please call with any question, day or night. We are here to help! Possible complications Although general anesthesia and surgery always involve a certain amount of risk, it is unlikely that your dog will have any serious problem with her surgery. If your pet licks excessively or chews excessively at the incision, loses appetite, seems lethargic or any other issue you have a question about, please immediately give us a call. Some patients will need to live with an E-collar (lampshade around the neck) a few days to prevent licking or chewing. A little licking is OK, persistent licking is not.