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What is a dog spay surgery?  
Questions and answers about the dog spay surgery.
The spay surgery entails removing the ovaries and most of the uterus of female animal. The medical term is ovariohysterectomy.  There are well established reasons, both medical and sociological, supporting spaying dogs and cats.  The surgery is usually done between 4 and 7 months of age... before the dog goes through a heat (estrus) cycle.  There is no data to indicate dogs "should" have a heat cycle or have a litter before spaying; nor does the surgery affect the psychological character of the dog.

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I really don't want to put my Bichon under anesthesia and my veterinarian says general anesthesia must be used for the procedure.
     Why should I have her spayed anyway; she never goes outside except in the fenced in yard?  I just don't see a need for the spay.

Infected incision after a surgical procedure Image of an infected incision

Answer:   dog... spay... what is
First, you don't have to do anything you don't approve!  As the dog's caretaker your duty is to learn as much as you need to about spaying, vaccinations, medications and nutrition in order to make what we call "informed consent".  And your veterinarian's duty is to tell you about pet health care and make the best recommendations possible.  Then you, the pet owner, make the final decision.
     Second, there are statistically proven health benefits for the spayed dog or cat compared to those not spayed.  Pyometra doesn't occur in spayed dogs and they have decreased incidence of some kinds of cancers.  Spayed dogs do not attract male dogs because they don't come into heat for three weeks twice a year like an unspayed dog would.
     Third, although it is considered major intra-abdominal surgery, spaying is the most commonly performed surgery and your veterinarian probably has lots of experience at doing it successfully.  Most animal hospitals have modern, safe sedation and anesthetic protocols and presurgical blood tests that all play a role in achieving a successful outcome to the surgery.
     You can get several opinions from other veterinarians, too.  Do a little research.  Then... it's your call.
Doctor's Notes
     Many veterinarians will try to use subcutaneous sutures to close the skin incision of a spay surgery.  With no sutures externally to attract the dog's attention post op there's less chance the dog will lick the incision area.

Go to to see a number of photos of dogs and cats with various conditions and diseases.  View a few x-rays (radiographs), surgery images and parasites, too.


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A dog  spay incision in the abdomen Dog spay surgery showing a dog ovary in TheAnswerVet website Dog spay surgery descriptions in TheAnswerVet website Dog spay surgery images in TheAnswerVet website
An incision is made in the abdominal midline starting at the umbilicus The ovaries and adjacent
uterine horns are located
See the ovary and uterine horn and
where the sutures are placed
Some tissues are removed 
during the dog spay surgery

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Related Question:
   I was always told a cat or dog should go through at least one heat cycle before they got spayed otherwise they would never be contented, happy pets. Is this true?
     What about getting fat and lazy?  I don't want that to happen.

Image of a dog spay incision
that has been closed
 with subcutaneous sutures.
Answer:     dog... when to spay... how old
  No.  It is not true that cats or dogs "should" have a heat cycle prior to being spayed.  The only proven undesirable effect of spaying or neutering at any age (other than being unable to have offspring, which for most people is an advantage) is a decline in total daily calorie needs.  That simply means that you can feed your cat or dog less food after being spayed or neutered.
     The "disadvantage" is that if you continue feeding the same amounts of food after the spay or neuter procedure over time the pet will almost certainly become overweight.  The fact is, though, that cats and dogs cannot prepared their own meals so you, the pet's owner, have the ultimate responsibility for your cat or dog's body weight.
     Every day we veterinarians hear well-meaning people state emphatically that their cat or dog "got overweight after she was spayed"... as if the surgery created the weight problem and the amount of food being eaten is unimportant!  This is a classic cop out to deflect responsibility for the pet's body condition to something other than ourselves. 
Doctor's Notes
     Follow the instructions!
After any surgery there is a period of time before a surgical site heals well enough for the patient to begin activity.       Your dog will feel well enough to be active well before the tissues have healed fully, so keep your dog under control for at least ten days after a spay procedure.
     Call the vet if the incision looks wet, inflamed, or if pus is present!  You should call long before the incision looks like the image on the left side of the page

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