Options for Male Dogs

Castration

 canine castration

Castration surgery involves removal of both testicles. While surgical techniques may vary a bit from surgeon to surgeon, the end result is the same. Castration surgery requires general anesthesia and there is a typical recovery period of 7 to 10 days during which the dog's activity should be limited.

The majority of testosterone is produced within the testicles, so it makes sense that castration results in a marked reduction of testosterone production. In most cases, castration eliminates sexual behaviors such as demonstrating interest in female dogs who are in heat.

vasectomy in dogs

 canine vasectomy dog

Just as with vasectomy surgery in people, in dogs this sterilization procedure involves clamping, cutting, or ligating (tying off) the vas deferens, the duct that transports sperm out of the testicle and into the semen. Local anesthesia is all that is needed to accomplish this surgery in men. (Most men will lie still when told to do so.) General anesthesia is necessary to perform vasectomy in dogs. Compared to surgical castration, the recovery period and need for exercise restriction following vasectomy is considerably shorter.

Dogs who undergo vasectomy are sterilized (rendered infertile), but they are not considered to be neutered because their testicles have not been removed. And, because of this, testosterone production is unaffected. Therefore, vasectomized dogs exhibit normal intact male behaviors such as showing interest in, mounting, and "breeding" female dogs who are in heat.

If you wish to pursue vasectomy for your dog and are having difficulty finding a veterinarian willing to perform this surgery, visit the website for the American College of Veterinary Surgeons to find a surgical specialist in your area. Additionally, the Parsemus Foundation website maintains a list of veterinarians across the United States who perform vasectomy surgery.

 

Options for Female Dogs

Ovariohysterectomy (OVH)

 spay dog

This spay surgery involves removal of both ovaries (ovario) and the uterus (hyster). While there is really no logical reason to remove the uterus when neutering a female dog, this has long been the traditional "spay surgery" performed within the United States. OVH is major abdominal surgery. Therefore, general anesthesia is required and there is typically a recovery period of approximately two weeks during which exercise and play must be restricted.

Following OVH surgery, the dog will no longer experience heat cycles. This is because, once the ovaries are removed, production of reproductive hormones if vastly decreased.

Ovariectomy (OVE)

 ovariectomy dog spay

This spay surgery involves removing both ovaries only. The uterus is left behind. This is the preferred "spay surgery" throughout much of Europe. As with an OVH, OVE is considered to be major surgery if performed via an abdominal incision. Ovariectomy can also be performed via laparoscopy, a less invasive surgical procedure with a shorter recovery period.

Just as with OVH surgery, following OVE, the dog will no longer experience heat cycles. Most veterinary schools have begun teaching OVE surgery to their students. Until this population of students begins practicing, it may be difficult to find a surgeon willing to perform OVE surgery, particularly via laparoscopy. Should OVE surgery be your preference, consider visiting the website for the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) to find a surgical specialist in your area. Such a specialist will likely be more willing to perform OVE surgery. Additionally, the Parsemus Foundation website provides a list of veterinarians who perform ovariectomy surgery.

Ovary-Sparing Spay

 ovary sparing spay dog

In this version of spay surgery, also known as a hysterectomy, the uterus is removed and the ovaries are left as is. This is the surgical sterilization surgery of choice for those who want to ensure normal hormone production by the ovaries while eliminating any possibility of pregnancy. The result is a dog who exhibits normal reproductive behaviors such as a willingness to stand for breeding when she is in heat.  

As more and more research tells us that elimination of reproductive hormone production may be detrimental, ovary-sparing spay surgery is gaining in popularity. It may be difficult to find a veterinarian within who is willing to perform ovary-sparing spay surgery. If you want this surgery for your dog, consider visiting the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) website to find a surgical specialist in your area. A specialist may be more willing to think outside of the box. Additionally, the Parsemus Foundation keeps a list of veterinarians who are willing to perform ovary-sparing spay surgery.