What Is Spaying? All About the Procedure in Dogs

Spaying is the surgical sterilization of female dogs, medically referred to as ovariohysterectomy. The procedure removes a dog’s reproductive organs: her ovaries and her uterus. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia by a veterinarian. This article will cover everything you need to know about spaying your dog, including what it involves and why you should do it.

What’s the Difference Between Spaying and Neutering?

If you’re wondering about the difference between spaying and neutering, it’s pretty simple. Spaying is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus and ovaries from female dogs. Neutering is a surgical procedure that removes both testicles from male dogs. Spaying is usually performed when your dog reaches sexual maturity at around six months of age, though it can happen as early as eight weeks old if she has already started her first heat cycle (there are pros and cons to each). Neutering typically happens at around six months of age as well, but some veterinarians will perform this surgery before then if they think your young male pup is likely to become aggressive or harder to train if left intact until he matures more fully.

When Should I Spay My Dog?

While the ideal time to spay your dog is before her first heat cycle, this isn’t always possible. In some cases, it’s not possible until after she has had one or more litters of puppies. However, it’s important to remember that spaying your dog should be done before she reaches 1 year of age.

Spaying a female dog prior to her first heat cycle will prevent her from going into heat and experiencing all of the related hormonal changes that take place during that phase of their lives. Spaying can also prevent ovarian cancer, which affects approximately 10% of intact female dogs.

If you have already allowed your dog to go through a heat cycle and gave birth to puppies (or if you’re planning on breeding), then there are still benefits for spaying at this point: you’ll avoid future false pregnancies; she’ll experience fewer infections; and she’ll be less likely to develop mammary tumors later in life (which can lead to mastectomy).

The Surgery: Steps Involved in the Procedure

The surgery is done under general anesthesia, so your dog will be unconscious throughout the procedure. The vet will remove both ovaries and uterus through an incision in the abdomen, which takes about 20 minutes. The incision is closed with sutures or staples and covered with a bandage wrap to protect it as it heals afterward.

Because of the pain associated with these procedures, most veterinarians also recommend that you give your dog painkillers after surgery so she doesn’t hurt herself while recovering from surgery or while having any post-operative issues (such as bleeding from sutures).

Risks Involved in Spaying Dogs

There are always risks involved in any surgery, and spaying is no exception. The most common complications from spaying include:

  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia (common)
  • Infection (very rare)
  • Excessive bleeding at the surgery site after the incision heals (rare)
  • Pain that doesn’t go away or gets worse if your dog is not treated right away; this can cause problems with urination, defecation or other bodily functions.

Health benefits of spaying include decreased risk of mammary tumors, uterine infections and other reproductive issues.

Spaying is often recommended as a preventive measure against ovarian, uterine and mammary cancer. While not every female dog will develop these diseases, they’re common enough that spaying can significantly reduce your pet’s risk of developing them. Pets that have been spayed early in life (before 6 months old) are at lower risk of developing some types of cancers than dogs who have been spayed later in life.


The decision to spay your dog is one that you should make in the best interest of your pet. The procedure for spaying dogs is fairly simple with few complications, and the health benefits for dogs make it worthwhile. The positive aspects of spaying include: Decreased risk of mammary tumors, uterine infections, and other reproductive issues

You will also have peace of mind knowing that when your pet has been spayed, there will be no unwanted puppies to worry about later down the line.