What is Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy, or “ovary-sparing spay”, is a procedure in which a dog's entire uterus is removed, but the ovaries are left intact. This surgery contrasts from the traditional spay, or ovariohysterectomy, with which both the uterus and the ovaries are removed. A hysterectomy may be performed in large or giant dog breeds, as recent studies have shown benefits to these breeds keeping their hormone balances. The ovaries are a key part of hormone regulation in the body. By retaining them in the body, the risk of developing certain diseases can be significantly reduced. This can lead to a longer life for the dog.

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Hysterectomy Procedure in Dogs

Like with a regular spay, the dog will first have to have its blood work run to ensure that it is a good surgical candidate and that it will be able to handle general anesthesia. If the dog is deemed suitable, the surgery will be booked. A larger incision will be made than with a traditional spay, so that the uterus can be fully visualized throughout the operation. 

It is pulled to the surface so that the entire uterus can be tied off and removed right at the cervix, generally between the ovaries and the uterine horn. It is paramount that the whole of the uterus is removed to prevent stump pyometra from developing. The procedure may take slightly more time than a full spay due to the fact that it is not performed as often and the incision will take longer to close, as it is bigger. Either sutures or staples may be used to the surgical incision.

Efficacy of Hysterectomy in Dogs

A hysterectomy is completely effective at rendering the dog incapable of breeding. If performed correctly, there should be no risk of stump pyometra. The dog will still go into heat, however, no discharge or blood should be seen. This procedure is permanent and will only need to be done once. The chances of resulting health issues are extremely low, with the dog being at lower risk of developing many cancers and diseases than with an ovariohysterectomy. 

Hysterectomy Recovery in Dogs

The recovery for a hysterectomy is very similar to that of a traditional spay. The veterinarian will prescribe painkillers and all activity should be reduced for several weeks while the animal heals. Putting an Elizabethan collar on the dog will keep it from licking or biting at its incision. Food should be slowly introduced within the first two days after surgery. If the dog begins to vomit, report this to your veterinarian. Monitor the incision site for any signs of infection. Any breathing difficulties should also be made known to the vet.

Cost of Hysterectomy in Dogs

An ovary-sparing spay tends to cost significantly more than a standard spay. Prices may range from $750 to $5,000 depending on the size of the dog and the veterinarian you see. Not all vets offer this surgery, so finding one near you may be a challenge. The procedure is gaining popularity, so more and more locations should be adopting the technique. Because it is often done in giant breeds, it can be paired with a gastropexy (tacking of the stomach) to prevent gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV). The cost may not be much more to have both procedures complete, as they may be done through the same incision.

Dog Hysterectomy Considerations

As with any surgery, complications may arise from the use of general anesthesia. If any of the uterus remains after surgery, the dog may be susceptible to stump pyometra, which can be life-threatening. Leaving the ovaries in the dog may contribute to the growth in mammary tumors. As the dog ages, she will be more at risk for this problem. Adopting an annual mammary gland ultrasound into your vet care routine may help identify these tumors in their early stages.

Hysterectomy Prevention in Dogs

Hysterectomy is an elective surgery that is performed to prevent the onset of many adverse health issues such as bone cancer and joint problems. In addition to the prevention of pregnancy and serious health conditions, it can also lessen the likelihood of the dog becoming obese or being incontinent. Intact females will remain at risk of developing pyometra, which is often difficult to diagnose until it's too late, and will also experience a full heat if no spay is performed.

Hysterectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Lapa Apso
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Hi my little Lapa Apso has just had a Hysterectomy the vet let her home that night after her surgery I still can't get her to drink or eat is this normal she has to go back for a checkup tomorrow but I'm just worried about no drinking

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1485 Recommendations
Tina should be at least drinking after surgery, if not then it may be a case of checking her gums to see if she is dehydrated; press on the gum until it is white, release and it should turn red again within two seconds, if it is longer then she may be dehydrated and you should return to your Veterinarian immediately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Yorkshire Terrier
17 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

always tired
lays there with eyes open
doesn't want to do anything
eaten little in 2 days

My dog is pregnant and we don't want her to be. She's about 25 days into the pregnancy and we are thinking of having a Hysterectomy done. We would like to know all the risks of having that done and all the possible complications during surgery as well as post op. Will a hysterectomy increase the risk of any diseases in the future? She's also a very petite 1 year and 4 months Yorkshire.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1485 Recommendations

Spaying dogs and cats is routine business in practice; especially if you get multiple animals dropped off by a shelter or charity; whilst it is still safe to spay females whilst they are pregnanct, it is best to do so in the first half of the gestation period. When a female dog is pregnant there is an increase in blood flow to the uterus which may cause additional bleeding and required more time to be ligated than a usual spay and a dog may get depressed for a few weeks following the spay if she was pregnant at the time due to hormones but this passes. Long term effects are up for debate, but given the current situation of overpopulation of dogs and not enough homes; it is best to have the spay done now depending on your Veterinarian’s opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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