What Is a Spay?

Everyone knows they should have their females dogs and cats spayed, but what exactly does that mean? The word "spay" is thought to originate from the Old French espeer meaning to cut with a sword, which then may have been changed to the Middle English spayen. Today the word means to perform a surgery to remove the reproductive tract from the abdomen of a female animal.

A spay is not a simple little surgery. It is not a tubal ligation. A spay surgery is a major abdominal surgery that removes the ovaries and uterus. An incision is made on the mid-line of the abdomen, each ovary is isolated, ligated and removed, then the body of the uterus is ligated and removed.

This surgery is performed in order to prevent pregnancy of course, but there are two other reasons veterinarians recommend the procedure. The two reasons are: to try to prevent breast cancer and to prevent a pyometra. If a dog is spayed before her first estrus (heat cycle), veterinarians just don't see breast tumors. If a dog goes through one heat cycle, she has an 8% chance of developing breast cancer. If a dog has two or more estrus cycles, she has a one-in-four chance of getting breast cancer.

A pyometra is a bad infection of the uterus that requires immediate surgery to remove the swollen uterus along with the ovaries. This is considered an emergency, it is essentially an abscess in the uterus. These dogs are sick and require hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics and fluids until they are feeling better. This is fairly common problem in unspayed female dogs, with the odds increasing with age. It tends to occur a few weeks after an estrus cycle.

When women have a hysterectomy, the ovaries are often left in the abdomen. This is not done in dogs because they would still come in heat and they would still be at a high risk of breast cancer.

The traditional age to perform the spay surgery is six months of age. The first estrus cycle is usually between seven and nine months of age, and we want the surgery to be done before this.
Some rescue groups are doing spay surgeries at younger ages as their motivations are population control. They want to make sure all puppies and kittens that are adopted have no chance of having litters of their own.

In summary, while a spay surgery is a commonly performed procedure, it is not a simple surgery, or one to be taken lightly. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about getting your pet spayed.

Your First Visit is FREE

Sign up now

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

8:00 am

9:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am

9:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am

9:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am

9:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am

6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am

2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "I cannot stress how awesome the entire staff is at Animal Hospital of Woodstock. We are new patients of this office and I’ve been going through random drama with my cat and his food allergies. Any time I call with a “crisis” the staff is warm and understanding all while being prompt with advice or instructions. If you are looking for a new vet I highly recommend this office. Thanks to Dr. Chris for taking such good care and concern with Watkins!"
    Erin M
  • "Thank you for your evening hours! We ran into a problem with our dog at 6:30 PM (he had something caught in his throat) and we were able to run over to our regular Vet clinic and get care. Dr. Chris was great and a big help! He even checked up on us the next morning. We've been clients for a long time, and really appreciate all of you!!"
    Julie F
  • "I needed to take my black lab to Animal Hospital of Woodstock for a echocardiogram and they were fabulous.. they brought me back to the room, brought a bowl of water for my dog, and just made us feel right at home. Staff and Drs were very friendly. I would highly recommend going here!"
    Shannon H

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles

No form settings found. Please configure it.