When you get a new puppy, one of the things you need to start thinking about is if you are going to spay your dog. Nowadays the procedure is quite controversial on if, when, and what procedure the dog should go through. What you may not know is a procedure called ovary-sparing spay (OSS), but before we go into that, let’s look at some facts.
Should I spay my dog?
If you do not plan on breeding your dog when they reach the appropriate age of around 2 years old, you should definitely have your dog spayed. If you plan on breeding your dog, you should think about having your dog spayed once you have decided to no longer breed.
What exactly is OSS (Ovary-Sparing Spay)?
An ovary-sparing spay is a new alternative to the full spay in that the uterus and cervix are removed and the ovaries are left in the body. Many people believe that leaving the ovaries affects the wellbeing of the dog, providing longer life, and is an alternative to those that are against a full spay, leaving the body to be able to produce the hormones as an intact female.
However, electing an OSS for your dog can be risky. Leaving the ovaries means that the body will still produce intact female hormones. The female dog will still go into heat, without bleeding, and intact male dogs will still try to breed the female.
There is also a higher risk of mammary cancer since the hormones are still present. With a full spay, there is no risk. Mammary tumors can be removed, but the recovery process is often painful and slow. If you decide to have the OSS performed, the mammary glands of the dog should be checked regularly for lumps and masses.
If the surgeon does not perform the ovary-sparing spay correctly and leaves any of the actual uterus, there is a risk of stump pyometra or infection of the uterus. Pyometra is a great risk for intact dogs and can become life-threatening.
A full spay or ovariohysterectomy (OHE) is the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries of a dog. The procedure is routine and is generally safe, but with any surgical procedure, anesthesia is always a risk.
Veterinary clinics perform these surgeries every day. The procedure should be done once the dog has reached 7 months of age and has lost all of their baby teeth. The myth of waiting until the female dog has had their first heat cycle is a bust. If you wait until the dog has undergone their first heat cycle, the healing process is slower and the procedure can be longer and more complicated – often needing an assistant.
Electing an OHE for your dog means there are few health risks associated with that of an intact female such as mammary tumors and pyometra. Both these diseases are not the only real risk to the life of your dog if untreated, but expensive to surgically fix. It also removes the risk of an unwanted batch of puppies.
Before electing to keep your dog intact or having an ovary-sparing spay performed, talk with your veterinarian about the risks and what is best for your dog.