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Our greatest concern is the well-being of your pet. As a result, we require a consultation and physical exam with our veterinary staff to discuss the options for contraception, ideal age for the procedure, and evaluate for any underlying medical conditions prior to surgery. Some medical conditions may not be detected on a physical exam alone which is why we highly recommend preoperative blood work. These conditions may necessitate changes in the way the procedures are performed or even delay the procedure in order to maximize your pet’s health. In an effort to maximize anesthetic safety, East Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital’s (EBVH) staff takes the necessary steps for all of our patients including tailoring an appropriate anesthetic protocol for your pet using state of the art medications, thermal support & core body temperature monitoring, pulse oximetry (SPO2), ECG, respiratory monitoring (respiratory rate & end-tidal CO2), blood pressure monitoring, and cardiovascular support with IV catheter and IV fluid support during anesthesia. State of the art in-hospital equipment also enables us to perform the pre-anesthetic blood profile at our hospital on the same day your pet is scheduled to undergo anesthesia if this has not been performed in the past 30 days.
For sterilization of female dogs, we offer:
Ovariohysterectomy (“traditional spay”), the ovaries and uterus are completely removed. At East Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital, our experienced veterinary reproductive specialist, excellent staff of veterinary technicians, state of the art anesthetic monitoring, and anesthetic medication and pain management approach are all designed to minimize risks with this procedure and offer top quality, individualized care to our patients. As such, there is minimal risk and a quick recovery time. In general, the recovery time for rest and healing (restricted activity) is 2 weeks for most of our patients and 4 weeks before return to high level athletic events (agility trials, herding trials, etc.) for our top notch athletes.
Another option for contraception is an ovariectomy, in which the only the ovaries are removed. With removal of the ovaries, there is minimal to no risk of pyometra as ovarian hormones are what trigger this disease. In addition, ovarian cancer is extremely rare in dogs. These dogs will no longer have ovarian hormones and will not cycle, so the hormonal and behavioral result is similar to traditional spay. One benefit of this procedure if that this can be performed minimally invasively with a laprascopic technique at some practices who perform this procedure. We currently do not offer this technique at EBVH, however, we can refer our patients to local specialty hospitals that perform this procedure. The cost is generally higher than that of a traditional spay due to the need for specialized equipment and training for this technique. Another consideration for minimally invasive laprascopic surgery is for breeds at high risk of bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulous, or GDV). A prophylactic gastropexy (stomach tack) should be considered in high risk breeds or dogs with relatives that have suffered from this condition. A laproscopic gastropexy is a minimally invasive method to perform this procedure and should be considered in high risk dogs. As we currently do not have laprascopic capabilities, we can refer our patients to local specialty hospitals that perform this procedure.
A newer option for contraception is the hysterectomy, or “ovary-sparing spay” (OSS), in which the entire uterus is removed to the level just below the cervix, but one or both ovaries are left in place retaining female hormone production. Dogs will still show behavioral and external signs of being in “heat”(estrus), but the vulvar bleeding/discharge associated with a “heat” cycle will be far less (most have little to no discharge). In addition, they cannot get pregnant; however, they will still allow mating. One important consideration is the potential for breeding trauma and vaginal rupture which could result in the small but potentially life threatening risk of abdominal infection (sperm peritonitis). As a result, we do not recommend allowing breeding to occur after this procedure is performed. A benefit of this procedure is that by removing the uterus to the level of the cervix, the risk of a serious and life threatening infection in the uterus (pyometra) is eliminated. Here is a link for further information regarding this procedure: https://www.parsemus.org/projects/ovary-sparing-spay/
Recovery time for ovary sparing spay is comparable to the traditional spay. The incision for this procedure is slightly longer than the incision for a traditional spay. The reason for this is to allow adequate visualization and access to both the ovaries and the cervix (complete removal of the cervix is essential to prevention of pyometra). Incision length does NOT generally affect recovery time, as incisions heal side to side, not end to end, but it is one reason the cost for this procedure is higher than that of a traditional spay.
For sterilization of male dogs, we offer:
Neutering (castration), in which the testes are completely removed resulting in a loss of male hormones as well as hormone related behaviors (urine marking, roaming, interest in cycling females, and potential increased aggressive behavior toward other male dogs).
Vasectomy, which removes a small portion of the vas deferens (spermatic cord) resulting in blocking the release of sperm thereby eliminating the risk of causing unwanted pregnancies while leaving the dog completely hormonally intact. The surgical approach and recovery is very similar to a castration and so there is a relatively quick recovery time (one week of restricted activity). It is important to realize that the dog will remain hormonally intact (with all the behaviors of an intact male), but will be sterile.
One important consideration when deciding upon alternative sterilization procedures like ovary sparing spay and vasectomy, please keep in mind that many day care facilities and boarding facilities consider these dogs to still be intact as they will still behave like intact dogs, and as a result many of these facilities will not accept dogs that have undergone these procedures.
For sterilization of female cats, we offer:
Ovariohysterectomy (“traditional spay”), the ovaries and uterus are completely removed. We do NOT recommend ovary sparing spay at this time in cats due to the behaviors associated with hormones in cats including urine marking, vocalization, and seeking a tom cat.
For sterilization of male cats, we offer:
Neutering (castration), in which the testes are completely removed resulting in a loss of male hormones as well as hormone related behaviors.