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Trends in Animal Health: Tubal Ligation in Dogs

The procedure called a “tubal ligation” in female dogs is a method of birth control that works by preventing pregnancy. It is also referred to as “having the tubes tied” or “tubal sterilization.” A tubal ligation is typically performed to prevent unwanted pregnancy while leaving the ovaries intact for normal hormonal and growth development.

What is a Tubal Ligation vs. a Traditional Spay in Dogs?

A tubal ligation in dogs is a surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy. Blocking the fallopian tubes prevents movement of the egg to the uterus for fertilization and blocks sperm from traveling up the fallopian tubes to the egg. Tubal ligation is different from the traditional “spay” procedure, also called an ovariohysterectomy or OHE, in which both ovaries and most of the uterus are removed from the body.

Removal of the ovaries halts the production of normal reproductive hormones responsible for heat cycles, breeding and reproduction. Because the ovaries remain intact with a tubal ligation, dogs will continue to experience normal hormonal production and maintain their fertility (“heat”) cycles. They will also be receptive to mating during their cycles.
Both procedures prevent pregnancy in dogs.

Benefits and Risks of Tubal Ligation in Dogs

The most notable benefit of tubal ligation is a reduction in unwanted pregnancies. It is also notable as, unlike traditional spaying, the procedure allows hormone production and development to progress normally.

Research regarding the health risks associated with removal of reproductive hormones in young growing dogs has led some to question the benefits of the traditional spay and castration surgeries. Health research suggests there may be benefit of continued reproductive hormone production by dogs and even risks to the lack of these hormones. Go here for more information on the risks of standard spaying and neutering.

This research has led some pet owners to look for alternatives to traditional spaying and castration for dogs. Tubal ligation is one alternative to traditional methods, as is hysterectomy. An alternative to a traditional castration is a vasectomy or a Zeuterin injection.

Unlike traditional spaying, a tubal ligation does not result in the removal of the uterus and thus leaves dogs at risk for developing pyometra (an infection of the uterus) which is common in dogs. Historically, spaying was also thought to minimize the risk of mammary tumors (breast cancer) in dogs. Recent studies have failed to confirm if spaying really protects dogs from mammary cancer, however, and thus tubal ligation’s effect on this risk factor is unclear.

Evidence suggests that intact dogs who are not spayed or neutered may have fewer health problems than those undergoing typical spaying or sterilization without normal hormonal development and growth. However, the persistent issue of pet overpopulation makes sterilization of some type an essential part of responsible pet ownership.

We hope this article on tubal ligation in dogs gives you more information about using tubal ligation as an alternative to traditional spaying.