What Is a Spay?

Everyone knows they should have their females dogs and cats spayed, but what exactly does that mean? The word "spay" is thought to originate from the Old French espeer meaning to cut with a sword, which then may have been changed to the Middle English spayen. Today the word means to perform a surgery to remove the reproductive tract from the abdomen of a female animal.

A spay is not a simple little surgery. It is not a tubal ligation. A spay surgery is a major abdominal surgery that removes the ovaries and uterus. An incision is made on the mid-line of the abdomen, each ovary is isolated, ligated and removed, then the body of the uterus is ligated and removed.

This surgery is performed in order to prevent pregnancy of course, but there are two other reasons veterinarians recommend the procedure. The two reasons are: to try to prevent breast cancer and to prevent a pyometra. If a dog is spayed before her first estrus (heat cycle), veterinarians just don't see breast tumors. If a dog goes through one heat cycle, she has an 8% chance of developing breast cancer. If a dog has two or more estrus cycles, she has a one-in-four chance of getting breast cancer.

A pyometra is a bad infection of the uterus that requires immediate surgery to remove the swollen uterus along with the ovaries. This is considered an emergency, it is essentially an abscess in the uterus. These dogs are sick and require hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics and fluids until they are feeling better. This is fairly common problem in unspayed female dogs, with the odds increasing with age. It tends to occur a few weeks after an estrus cycle.

When women have a hysterectomy, the ovaries are often left in the abdomen. This is not done in dogs because they would still come in heat and they would still be at a high risk of breast cancer.

The traditional age to perform the spay surgery is six months of age. The first estrus cycle is usually between seven and nine months of age, and we want the surgery to be done before this.
Some rescue groups are doing spay surgeries at younger ages as their motivations are population control. They want to make sure all puppies and kittens that are adopted have no chance of having litters of their own.

In summary, while a spay surgery is a commonly performed procedure, it is not a simple surgery, or one to be taken lightly. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about getting your pet spayed.

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Doctor Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Monday:

7:30 am

5:30 pm

Tuesday:

7:30 am

5:30 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am

5:30 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am

5:30 pm

Friday:

7:30 am

5:30 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "We are from out of town and our dog erin had an ear infection. We were able to see a doctor quickly who took care of the problem. We appreciate what you did for us."
  • "I have never been disappointed with the care received with Berwick."
  • "Great visit! I loved how they smeared peanut butter on the exam table in order to distract my puppy while the Dr gave her her vax. Great idea! I’ve never seen that before! The entire staff was professional and super friendly. They understood our full-time RV lifestyle and were very accommodating to help us to get our new puppy off to the right and healthy start. Thank you!"
  • "We still get the same high quality and friendly service that we got ten years ago. The staff at Berwick animal Hospital is exceptional. You know you’re in a good place when your pet is excited and happy about going in!"
  • "I called at the last minute wanting to get Macie in for a cytopoint injection as we were going out of town. Ashley and Bridget put their heads together and got us in and out in under 30 minutes. These ladies ROCK!"
  • "Your staff is always helpful and courteous. I appreciate their kindness."
  • "Staff were friendly, professional, and showed true concern for the health of my pet. I am truly satisfied with services I received. I would recommend Berwick Animal Hospital!"
  • "We love Dr. Douglas and everyone that works at Berwick! Y all are so sweet and make it a calming experience for our dogs instead of a stressful one."