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Why should I spey my dog?

Surgical sterilisation (ovariohysterectomy) of the female dog, commonly referred to as speying, is one of the most significant aspects of female dog care an owner can provide.
The main reason for performing the operation is to prevent the “heat” period and hence prevent the female dog from having puppies. There are also many health benefits for the female dog in having this procedure:

  • Convenience – unspeyed female dogs come into season twice a year, each season/heat lasting approximately 3 weeks, during which time she will have a bloody discharge and have to be confined.

  • No unwanted puppies

  • No phantom pregnancies, which in some bitches cause a lot of distress

  • Mammary cancer prevention – a female dog speyed before her first heat will have a near zero (0.05%) chance of developing mammary cancer. After the 1st heat the incidence climbs to 7% and after the 2nd heat the risk is 25%! Is it too late if the dog is past her 2nd heat? No, in fact spaying is important even in female dogs that already have mammary tumours. This is because many mammary tumours are stimulated by oestrogens; removing the ovaries, the source of oestrogens, will help retard tumour spread.

  • Pyometra prevention – a life-threatening toxic infection of the uterus that commonly occurs in middle-aged to older female dogs in the 6 weeks following heat. The uterus is filled will pus, bacteria, dying tissue and toxins; treatment requires emergency surgery and can be prevented by speying.

  • You will not be able to breed from your dog

  • Incontinence – female dogs speyed after 3 months of age have a 5% incidence of developing urinary incontinence in middle age, versus 12.9% incidence in female dogs speyed before they are 3 months old.

  • Will they become fat? Activity level and appetite do not change with speying. It is a common myth that a de-sexed dog will become fat and lazy. Remember that service animals; Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Dogs for the Disabled are routinely desexed. Feeding a scientifically prepared diet without excessive tidbits should adequately control any problems of weight gain, just as it does in the entire animal.

  • Will they lose character? Often dogs will become gentler but they will lose neither their spirit, playfulness nor their intelligence.


When Is The Best Time To Spey?
  • Our clinic recommends speying female dogs at 6 months of age, prior to puberty.

  • It is most important to spey them prior to their first season to reduce the risk of mammary cancer.

  • All animals should be fully vaccinated prior to surgery

  • 4 weeks after season, if you missed your chance to spey before the first season

  • 1-2 weeks after weaning of pups. There is no advantage for the bitch in letting her have a litter before speying.


What Happens When a Female Dog Is Speyed?

As the operation is performed under general anaesthetic it is important that no food is given from 7pm the night before the surgery, and no water is to be given from 7am the morning of surgery.

On the Day
  • Patients will be presented at the clinic for surgery admission between 8-8.30am

  • A pre-operative evaluation is performed Blood work is recommended for older patients and may be recommended as a normal pre-anaesthetic consideration.

  • A sedative will be given under the skin to ease the induction of anaesthesia and provide pain relief.

  • A small patch of hair will be shaved off one of the patient’s legs so that an intravenous catheter may be placed to facilitate fluid therapy during surgery, for administration of anaesthetic drugs, and for use in case of emergency.

  • A medication is then given intravenously through the catheter to induce sleep 

  • Once asleep a tube is placed down the throat to ensure that a clear airway is maintained throughout the procedure.

  • The tube is connected up to an anaesthetic machine that delivers a specific concentration of anaesthetic gas mixed with 100% oxygen to maintain anaesthesia.

  • In the surgical prep area the abdomen is shaved and scrubbed, the patient is then moved through to the surgical theatre where sterile surgical drapes are placed over the patient to isolate the area where the surgery will take place 

  • An incision is made on the midline of the abdomen, and the three points where the ovaries and uterus attaches are tied off and cut. The abdomen is checked for bleeding and 2-3 layers of stitches are placed to close the incision in the abdominal wall.

  • A trained, qualified nurse will monitor the patient’s depth of anaesthesia, membrane colour, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and oxygen levels in the blood throughout the surgery.

  • At the end of the surgery another Injectable pain relief will be given which will last 24hrs.

  • The veterinary nurse will remain monitoring her until fully recovered and the patient will be kept in an observation room until able to walk.

  • The patient will stay the night in hospital to ensure strict bed rest. This night also allows for proper administration of pain medication for a longer time period as well as a post-operative check up with the vet the morning after the surgery.

What to Expect at Home
  • All patients whom have been speyed at The Vet Centre will be provided with post-op pain relief, either in the form of chewable tablets or liquid drops, to go home with.

  • Most spey patients go home the next day as if nothing happened, some nausea may occur in the first couple of days after surgery, and it would not be unusual for the dog to refuse food for a day or two after surgery.

  • Sometimes a cough is noted after surgery; this may have been caused by the tube in the throat and should only last for a couple of days.

  • Patients who lick at their stitches will need an Elizabethan or “E” collar to prevent access to their stitches.

  • Activity should be restricted during the week following surgery as excessive activity can lead to unnecessary and prolonged swelling or fluid accumulation under the incision.

  • A post-op check 3-5days after the surgery is highly recommended, to monitor healing and to check for swelling or infection.

Skin stitches are removed 10-14 days after the surgery, this service is provided free of charge and it is important to make an appointment with one of our veterinary nurses for this so that they may check the wound has healed well.

Please contact us if you require any further information or if you would like to make an appointment to see one of our vets.