Alternatives to Spay and Neuter
You may think there are only two options for your pet: to spay and neuter, or not to. Spay and neuter surgeries are an important part in the fight against overpopulation. Yet, further research shows that spay and neuter surgeries are never one-size-fits-all. Sterilization can predispose your pet to more conditions than the surgery protects them from. Depending on your pet’s breed, age, size, and other conditions, they could benefit more from alternative sterilization. This helps to both control the animal population by preventing unwanted breeding, while giving your pet a substantial amount of health benefits, too.
A traditional spay surgery refers to the complete removal of both the uterus and ovaries. Meanwhile, an ovary-sparing spay (OSS) leaves the ovaries intact, while removing the entire uterus. Since hormones are produced in the ovaries, your female dog still undergoes heat cycles and will be attractive to intact male dogs. Yet, her health benefits may be greater than with a complete spay. This is especially true of larger breed dogs who can develop a range of age-related conditions if spayed at an early age. An OSS allows them to retain their hormones, which suppress many of the conditions, while still keeping them from unwanted breeding.
Benefits of an OSS include:
- Reduced risk of certain cancers including hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and cell carcinoma (bladder cancer)
- Lower risk of obesity
- Reduced risk of urinary incontinence and urinary tract infection
- Lower risk of thyroid problems
- Reduced risk of cranial cruciate rupture and hip dysplasia
Just as with a traditional spay, traditional neuters completely remove the hormone-producing organs in a male: the testes. On the other hand, a vasectomy is an alternative for males. It leaves the testes intact and instead removes the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from the testicle out to fertilize the female. A vasectomy has many similar benefits that an OSS has for a female, particularly for larger breed dogs. Hormonal retention allows large breed dogs to grow at a regulated rate, rather than a neutered dog who will often continue to grow and have long, extended limbs and a narrow chest and head, which leaves them vulnerable to a range of developmental conditions like hip dysplasia.
Benefits of a vasectomy include:
- Reduced risk of certain cancers including hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, cell carcinoma (bladder cancer), and prostatic adenocarcinoma (prostate cancer)
- Lower risk of obesity
- Reduced risk of thyroid problems
- Lower risk of cranial cruciate rupture and hip dysplasia
Developing a Plan for Your Pet
Each pet is unique, and our veterinarians will work with you to develop the best plan for your pet. Depending on your desires for them, as well as their own health condition and characteristics, we can decide whether a traditional surgery, an alternative surgery, or no surgery is right for you both. Please contact us today for more information.