Rethink that Standard Spay/Neuter Surgery

Rethink that Standard Spay/Neuter Surgery

Rethink that Standard Spay/Neuter Surgery

Although it is extremely common practice here in the United States, spay and neuter surgeries were not always a standard practice, and still today are not in many other countries.  In many European nations pet population is simply controlled by responsible pet ownership, and many pets do not even go under the knife.  However, for the people who do chose to have their pets altered, it is quiet common practice in other parts of the world to perform "non-standard" surgical procedures like ovary-sparing surgery.



Lets take a break-down look at the different surgical options for pets: 

  • (ovariohysterectomy) The ovariohysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix and both ovariess


  • An ovary sparing spay is where one or both ovaries are left in the abdomen, near the kidneys, but the uterus and cervix are removed.
  • Castration removal of both testicles in male dogs and cats.
  • Vasectomy, removal of a portion of the vas deferens, leaving the testicles intact.


In all of these surgical procedures, the dogs and cats will be prevented from breeding, however are vastly different for your pet's health.  


More and more mounting evidence is showing the vast array of health benefits of offering ovary sparing or teste sparing surgeries for our pets!

Ovary Sparing Spay (OSS):

  • Removes the Uterus, Cervix and possibly 1 Ovary
  • Leaves at least 1 Ovary if not both Ovaries
  • Hormones are maintained
  • Has a heat cycle and may have a very small amount of bloody discharge, will be attractive to male dogs
  • Not fertile
  • Not able to get a Pyometra, which is an infection of the Uterus 

Ovariohysterectomy (Traditional):

  • Removes Ovaries and some of the Uterus
  • Leaves Part of the Uterus and Cervix
  •  Hormones are NOT maintained
  • Does not have a heat cycle
  • Not fertile
  • Not able to get a Pyometra

What Are The Advantages Of Retaining The Ovaries
Health Advantages:

  • Lower incidence of hemangiosarcoma (cancer usually found in the spleen or heart)
  • Lower incidence of osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
  • Lower risk of transitional cell carcinoma (bladder cancer)
  • Lower incidence of obesity, which may be due at least partly to increased metabolic rate
  • Lower incidence of urinary incontinence (equivocal if females are spayed after 5 months but before their first heat)
  • Lower incidence of urinary tract infection
  • Lower incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis and hypothyroidism
  • A reduced incidence of cranial cruciate rupture
  • A reduced incidence of hip dysplasia in female dogs that are not spayed before 5 months of age
  • Anesthesia and surgery are not appropriate for some patients with high-risk medical conditions
  • Lower incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines
  • Evidence of increased lifespan in females left intact past puberty. David J. Waters, associate director of Purdue University's Center on Aging and the Life Course and a professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences says: "Taking away ovaries during the first 4 years of life completely erased the female survival advantage. We found that female Rottweilers that kept their ovaries for at least 6 years were 4 times more likely to reach exceptional longevity compared to females who had the shortest lifetime ovary exposure."


What Are The Disadvantages Of Retaining The Ovaries
Health Disadvantages:


There are however also a few disadvantages which can come from leaving the sex organs intact which include some unwanted behavioral issues, and some additional health risks which are eliminated:


  • Increased risk of mammary (breast) cancer. This increased risk of mammary (breast) cancer occurs with each subsequent cycle and the benefit of spaying does not disappear until the animal reaches old age. Mammary cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in small animals. Mammary neoplasia is malignant under 50% of the time in dogs, but few dogs die from breast cancer due to low metastatic rates and early detection and treatment.
  • Increased risk of ovarian cancer. The incidence and mortality risk for ovarian cancer is very low


You of course need to make the best decision for you and your pet's unique situation, however please do not just make the standard decision, take the time to research and discuss options with different veterinarians before putting your pet under the knife! 


Keep those pet's healthy and happy everyone!



April Arguin A.S., C.P.N., M.P.H.


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