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Sterilisation of the dog

Spaying is popularly referred to as sterilisation when a bitch is rendered infertile. Yet, strictly speaking, this is also a castration as part of the sexual apparatus (ovaries and sometimes the uterus) is removed. It is a relatively simple procedure in which the abdomen is opened under full anaesthesia. It is done under form of a day surgery, where the dog is brought to the practice sober and walks home happily the same day. Thanks to suturing into the skin and the use of pain medication, a collar or body is usually not needed. However, they are always given pain medication to take home for a few days.
Sterilisation certainly has advantages. They do not go into heat (so no bleeding in the house, no attraction to males, no behavioural changes associated with heat and no sham pregnancy after heat) and unwanted litters are avoided. Some common medical problems are also avoided (uteritis, mammary gland tumours), depending on the age at which the procedure is performed.
Sometimes the operation is necessary at an older age if, for example, they develop a uterus infection (pyometra) or if they develop diabetes (diabetes mellitus).
After the operation, you will have to be very careful not to let your animal get too fat, but with an adapted diet, sufficient exercise and the necessary discipline, this should not be a problem. Some bitches can become incontinent: this happens especially if the procedure is performed before the first heat in large breeds and if they become too fat. Fortunately, this is usually easily remedied with medication. Sometimes slight changes in the coat occur. Some cancers may be slightly more common in certain breeds if they are spayed, although this should always be framed: many of these cancers are infrequent anyway. Good consultation with the vet is therefore important.
The procedure can be performed at any age, provided the period of heat and the subsequent 2 months are avoided. Nevertheless, it is best performed at a young age to avoid health problems later in life. In any case, it is a myth that a bitch must have had a litter for her physical or mental health.
Sterilisation is also possible endoscopically (with keyhole surgery). We do not offer this technique in practice because our experience shows that the classic procedure, with a correct pain control protocol, does not give a longer recovery period.
There are also various injectable preparations that can temporarily suppress heat. This does increase the risk of development of uterine infections or mammary gland tumours, even after a single injection.
Surgical sterilisation is the most efficient and reliable method of contraception, which is cheapest in the medium term, and poses the least risk to the animal’s future health. It is a surgical procedure that we perform very commonly and with minimal risk to the dog.