Trends in Animal Health: Hysterectomy in Dogs

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The procedure referred to as a “hysterectomy” in dogs is a surgical procedure in which all or most of the uterus is removed. It is used as a method of birth control which works by preventing pregnancy. Hysterectomy results in a sterile dog whose ovaries continue to produce important hormones. This also means dogs will continue to have heat cycles and will be receptive to mating after a hysterectomy.

The procedure may also be recommended to:

  • Prevent pregnancy while maintaining normal hormonal development
  • Reduce the risk of problems associated with birth such as difficult labor
  • Avoid pyometra, a condition in which the uterus becomes filled with pus

Hysterectomy is one alternative to the traditional spay procedure; an alternative to a traditional castration is a vasectomy. This article will compare traditional spay procedures to hysterectomies in dogs.

What is a Hysterectomy vs. a Traditional Spay in Dogs?

The traditional “spay” procedure, also called an ovariohysterectomy or OHE, involves the removal of both ovaries and most of the uterus from the body. Removal of the ovaries removes the normal reproductive hormones responsible for heat cycles, breeding and reproduction. In contrast, hysterectomy results in the removal of only the uterus and leaves a dog's ovaries in place. Both procedures will prevent pregnancy in dogs.


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Benefits and Risks of Hysterectomies in Dogs

The most notable benefit of hysterectomies is a reduction in unwanted pregnancies. It also eliminates the risk of pyometra (an infection of the uterus) which is common in dogs. Historically, spaying was thought to minimize the risk of canine mammary tumors (breast cancer). However, recent studies have failed to confirm if spaying really protects dogs from mammary cancer.

Research regarding the health risks associated with the removal of reproductive hormones in young growing dogs has led some to question the benefits of traditional spay and castration procedures and the rise of hysterectomies.

Some studies suggest that there may be benefit to continued reproductive hormone production by dogs, and even potential risks related to the lack of such hormones. As a result some pet owners have begun looking for alternatives to these common procedures. For more information on the concerns about spaying and neutering, go here to learn more.

Hysterectomy in dogs is becoming a more frequent consideration for owners who want to prevent their dogs from getting pregnant but are afraid of the negative aspects of traditional procedures. Tubal ligation is considered another alternative.


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