An edited transcript of the video is provided below:
Today I want to talk to you about spaying. And the difference between what we should be doing, and what a lot of vets are actually doing, which is an ovariohysterectomy verses an ovariectomy. We will discuss why it matters, what’s the benefit of doing one verses the other, and what’s the downside of doing one verses the other. I get a lot of questions about this, every day since we do our laparoscopic spay, and we only perform an ovariectomy. There’s a lot of misconceptions still persisting out there about what the risks are and what the benefits are.
Let’s all get back on the same page. When we spay a dog, you can do one of two procedures. The traditional way of spaying a dog is you remove the ovaries and the uterus. And that’s called an ovariohysterectomy. And it’s what we’ve been doing here in the United States for all time and eternity, but nobody really stopped to ask why we’re doing it this way. Once we did, we figured out, oh yeah, there’s no point in removing the uterus. There’s really no benefit to it. And this is the way that they’ve been doing it in Europe for the past 20+ years, by only removing the ovaries, and they found no increase risk of problem or issues by leaving that uterus behind.
What are the risks and what are the justifications for removing the uterus? Well a lot of people talk and worry about uterine cancer. Uterine cancer in dogs is 0.03% of all cancers. It’s really low. Of those, only 10% are malignant. So your chance of having a malignant uterine tumor is 0.003%, that’s basically nothing. And, if you remove the ovaries from a young age, a lot of those tumors are hormonally driven. So if the uterus isn’t getting those hormones over the course of their life, the chance of them having a uterine cancer, a uterine tumor develop, is basically nothing. And so that risk really isn’t a concern for me. Other people are worried about if you leave the uterus behind that there’s still the risk that they’ll get something called a pyometra, or an infection in their uterus. The thing is, you can’t get a pyometra unless there’s hormones to drive that infection. So that can happen, even in a traditional spay, if you do an ovariohysterectomy, and you leave just a little piece of the ovary behind, you can still get a pyometra. It’s called a stump pyometra. But if you’ve completely removed all of the ovarian tissue, that’s not going to happen unless you’re actively rubbing progesterone onto the dog. So if you’re a woman who’s doing progesterone replacement therapy on your skin, that would be a potential issue. But that would happen with both a traditional spay, which is an ovariohysterectomy, and a ovariectomy. So again, that one’s not a risk either.
What is the benefit of removing the uterus? Well, really there really isn’t. There is a downside though. There are risks and complications associated with actually removing the uterus, because when you do a spay, you’re really trying to make this tiny incision, and to get that uterus out of there, you’re really kind of pulling and yanking and stretching that uterus, and doing a lot of tissue trauma. And so there’s the risk that one of the blood vessels will not get tied off appropriately and they’ll bleed. You’re pulling and potentially stretching the other organs, and it’s just all the extra trauma that goes along with that spay, it’s a lot more painful, and a lot longer recovery time. So there really isn’t a benefit of removing the uterus.
The next question is why vets haven’t made the change? I think it’s just they’re not comfortable and we’re trying to get that information out there, and really advertising and talking about why we just do an ovariectomy. You don’t need fancy laparoscopic equipment to do an ovariectomy. Your vets, any vet out there, can start doing an ovariectomy now, when they do their traditional spays. It’s actually easier because you don’t need to make as big of an incision, and you’re not trying to pull and stretch anything. So, vets can do ovariectomies without fancy equipment like we have. It’s just something that we need to continue to get this information out there, and let them know that it’s okay to do this.
So, I hope that clarifies why you would want to do an ovariectomy and the benefits of it, and if you have questions about that, please come in, and we’d love to talk to you about doing ovariectomy on your dog, and we do it laparoscopically, which has been shown to reduce pain in animals by so much. And there’s more information on our website about laparoscopic spays, I encourage you to look at. So schedule an exam if you have a question, and otherwise, thank you for watching,
Is there a video that we can watch the laparoscopic ovary removal and how it’s done?
Yes! We have a video on our LOVE spay page (https://sdcoastalanimal.com/services/laparoscopic-spays/) which explains the procedure. You can also find the video here: https://vimeo.com/353910611
What about an ovary sparing spay where only the uterus is removed?
That is an option that is also out there. We don’t tend to recommend it because the benefits don’t seem to outweigh the downsides. These pets will still have hormonal cycles and attract males which can be a problem in dog social situations. Also, they are at risk of developing mammary (breast) cancer that may require surgery in the future. While there are some benefits, it is our take that the downsides do outweigh the positives.
I thank you for your informative article. Unfortunately, I live in Denver in Denver, Colorado and not able to come out for you to do the ovariectomy! Do you someone in Denver who does this procedure well? Thank you.
Here is a resource for you: https://www.lapspay.com/en/find-a-vet.htm
Are there situations where the ovaries are only removed and after the ovariectomy, there is milky substance emitting from swollen Female breasts.
Yes, this can happen with something called a “false pregnancy”. She will likely act just like she is pregnant and this can last for a week or two then should all return back to normal. If all ovarian tissue was removed, there isn’t a risk of this happening again in the future.