We advise that female dogs are spayed prior to their first season between 5-6 months of age. If your female dog has already had a season we recommend spaying approximately 3 months afterwards, which will fall midway between their seasons.
We recommend spaying your bitch for a number of reasons: Spaying protects against unwanted pregnancies and is therefore responsible as an owner. A spayed bitch will not come into season, and so will not be ‘attractive’ to male dogs. In spaying our dogs we avoid problems associated with false pregnancies including milk production, depression/aggression and lack of appetite. Removing the ovaries protects against diseases of the ovaries and uterus; this includes ovarian/cervical cancers and uterine infections (pyometra). All of these conditions are potentially life threatening but a pyometra is one of the more common and requires emergency surgery. Spaying your bitch also reduces the incidence of mammary (breast) cancers. Neutering your bitch before 6 months of age provides the greatest reduction of this risk.
What does a bitch spay procedure involve?
When we spay a bitch we remove both ovaries. In the removal of both ovaries we stop female hormone production; it is these hormones that drive the problems associated with having an entire female. In certain cases we will elect to remove the uterus too, for example a dog with known or suspected uterine disease. However, your vet will have identified the potential for this prior to surgery and in the vast majority of cases only the ovaries will be removed.
How do we perform a bitch spay procedure?
Bitch spays are conventionally performed and involve open abdomen surgery. The surgeon directly handles the ovaries and uterus via a midline abdominal incision. At Hollybank veterinary centre we now also perform laparoscopic spays which are performed via keyhole surgery; the surgery involves specialised equipment and specialist training.
The advantages to a laparoscopic spay include:
- Minimally invasive and generally safer procedure
- Associated with lower levels of pain during and after surgery
- Recovery times following the procedure are quicker
- Post operative care is more manageable with minimal rest and no buster collar due to only 3 small wounds being created
It is important to note that this technique can only be performed in candidates that fall within a set weight and shape category. For example, dogs that are too small or overweight cannot have this procedure. This is also true for those dogs requiring their uterus to be removed. The decision will be made at our discretion in the best interests for your animal.
If your pet does not fit within our guidelines they will have a conventional spay. This involves one slightly larger wound. The outcome is essentially the same but post operative care and recovery times differ. Post-operatively your animal will require slightly stricter rest and will also need a buster collar.
If indicated a laparoscopic bitch spay may have to be converted to a conventional bitch spay. Again, this decision will be made in the best interests for your animal