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Spaying (Ovariohysterectomy) in Dogs

By: Dr. David Diamond

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Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is a surgical procedure in which both ovaries and most of the uterus are removed from the body. It is most commonly performed to prevent reproduction, which consequently helps to control pet overpopulation.

Ovariohysterectomy may also be indicated for:

  • Some behavior problems
  • Uterine or ovarian tumors
  • Problems that arise while giving birth
  • Pyometra, a condition in which the uterus becomes filled with pus

    Early spaying of dogs has been found to reduce the chance for the development of mammary gland (breast) tumors significantly. Spaying before your dog's first heat cycle is the most beneficial, whereas spaying after she has been through several heat cycles will not reduce significantly the incidence of mammary gland tumors.

    Veterinary Care

    Most ovariohysterectomy procedures are performed on young healthy pets and extensive pre-operative work-up is not usually necessary. Pre-operative evaluation involves a thorough physical examination and may include blood tests.

    When the ovariohysterectomy is being performed for reasons other than to prevent reproduction, such as in older animals with tumors or pyometra, other diagnostic tests may be necessary to exclude concurrent problems that might increase the risk of anesthesia.

    The surgery is performed through an incision on the abdomen and both ovaries and the uterus are removed. Some veterinarians use sutures to close the skin incision, while others use absorbable sutures beneath the skin surface.

    Home Care

    After your pet returns from the hospital, keep her quiet and indoors for approximately two weeks to allow her to heal. Do not allow her to be excessively active and prevent her from "rough-housing."

    Monitor the incision daily for signs of redness, swelling or discharge. Do not allow your pet to lick or chew at the incision. If you find that it is impossible to stop your pet from doing this, obtain an "Elizabethan" collar that is placed around the neck to prevent her from being able to reach the incision.

    Skin sutures, if present, will be removed in 10 to 14 days.

    If the ovariohysterectomy was performed for non-reproductive reasons, further treatment and/or monitoring may be necessary.

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