Modified Spey Procedure for Dogs

Traditional Spey, Ovarioectomy (KeyholeSpey) or Hysterectomy?

The Traditional Spey Procedure for Dogs

The most commonly recognised and performed procedure to prevent breeding in female dogs is by the Traditional Spey method (ovario-hysterectomy) during which both ovaries and uterus are removed. Most dog speys performed in Veterinary clinics are done by this method however did you know other methods are available?

The Ovarioectomy (Keyhole) or Modified Spey Procedure

In this procedure only the Ovaries are removed using minimally invasive surgical techniques and equipment. (Also known as “Keyhole” Surgery.)

The uterus remains intact.

Without egg producing ovaries, your dog cannot become pregnant. And as with the other procedures whereby both ovaries and uterus are removed, your dog will no longer experience any heat cycles or attract males.

You may be wondering whether leaving the uterus intact may still place your dog at risk of uterine infection (Pyometra). This is unlikely as the main triggers for this condition are the hormone producing ovaries. Although this manifests itself in the uterus, Pyometra is an ovarian disease.

The “Modified Spey” is the preferred procedure in many European countries as an alternative to the traditional spey.

Instead of one large incision, two smaller incisions are made. Through one incision, a tiny camera is used to visualise the ovaries inside the body cavity. The special instruments are inserted through the second incision and the ovaries are carefully removed from inside the body cavity using the camera as a guide.

This method is less traumatic for your pet as the ovaries are removed from within the body without the need to tear them away from their attachments and bring them outside of the body as is done using the traditional spey method.

The benefits of this procedure vs Traditional Spey include:

  • Less internal trauma (Less ripping and pulling on internal structures) – less organ removal – less bruising.
  • Less chance of post operative internal bleeding.
  • Less post operative pain for your dog
  • Faster recovery time and healing
  • Smaller incision sites

Because this method requires advanced expertise and specialised equipment it does attract a higher fee.  We offer this method for all dogs aged 6 months or over on specific weekdays.
Our Recommendations for Ages to Spey Dogs

Although we can perform spey procedures in dogs from 6 months of age we recommend the following minimum ages (based on the fact we are removing the vital hormone producing ovaries):

  • Small breeds: From 8 months of age
  • Standard breeds: From 12 months of age
  • Giant Breeds: From 16 months of age.

Emerging Concerns about Removing Ovaries

There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that the hormone producing organs (Ovaries in females) are quite important to overall health and that by removing them will have a detrimental effect on other body systems.

This makes sense as organs systems are interdependent and by removing one will affect others. Maybe not immediately but certainly over time.Keyhole Spey Procedure for Dogs

Our Obligations as Integrative Veterinarians

We believe we have a moral obligation to our clients and patients to present both benefits and limitations of any procedure or medical treatment we provide. It is also our obligation to keep up to date with current research findings in order to assist our clients in making the best possible decisions for their pets.

Examples of Studies evidencing Some of the Potential issues:

Back in the 1990’s studies showed that dogs speyed or neutered before one year of age grew significantly taller than dogs not speyed / neutered until after puberty. And the earlier the spey / neuter procedure – the taller the dog.

Similar findings in Human studies discovered that estrogen promotes skeletal maturation and the gradual closure of growth plates.

Translation: – The hormone estrogen which is no longer produced in dogs which have had their hormone secreting tissue removed, plays a crucial role in bone growth and development. The failure of these growth plates to close result in abnormal structual growth patterns and bone structure.

Hip Dyslasia & Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Injuries

Studies at U.S. Veterinary Universities show that both male and female dogs desexed at an early age were more prone to hip dysplasia and increased Cruciate Ligament rupture rates.

Bone Cancer

In a study of Rottweilers in 2002 it was found that desexed animals of that breed were significantly more likely to develop bone sarcoma that their intact counterparts.

The effect of speying and Canine Breast Cancer is a theory not a fact.

This is interesting.

Results of a U.K. Study published in 2012 in the “Journal of Small Animal Practice” were unable to validate the thory that early speying protects female dogs from mammary cancers.

Other Health Concerns

In addition to what’s already listed, there seem to be other reports and studies that point towards health concerns associated with the removal of hormone producing organs.

These include higher incidences of:

  • Hypthyroidism – (Especially in Golden Retrievers)
  • Various cancers including lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumours.
  • Behavioural problems

So what does this mean for you – and Us?

First of all – we strongly recommend you do your own research with regards to this issue. Our role as veterinarians and animal advocates is to be alert to trends and current research and findings and bring them to your attention.

This article is NOT about whether to spay or not spay your dog.

It is about choices of methods to prevent unwanted breeding.

The time has come where we are no longer comforable in ignoring the growing body of evidence connecting the removal of endocrine secreting tissue with a variety of health problems in dogs.

We owe it to you – (our clients) and our patients to do only what is in your dog’s best interest and uphold the Hippocratic oath of “do no harm.”

As such, we will now be offering the option of Hysterectomy for Dogs for informed pet owners who are as committed to your dog’s long term health and vitality as we are.

What You need to Know if Choosing the Hysterectomy or Ovary Sparing Method of Sterilising Your Dog.

  1. Because the ovaries remain intact – your dog will still go through her normal heal cycles. This means she will still exhibit all the signs of being on heat and WILL BE ATTRACTIVE to MALES! She must not be allowed to mate with a dog. Removal of the uterus means she has been anatomically altered and may suffer from internal trauma if mating takes place.
  2. As with the Traditional Spey method – this procedure is irreversible. Once the uterus is removed pregnancy cannot ever occur.

This method of sterilising is not for everyone however, there is increasing demand for the “ovary sparing” method from a select group of dog owners in the community – in particular for their large breed dogs.

For large breed dogs you may want to consider the preventative Gastropexy at the same time to minimise the future risk of dangerous bloat.

We offer this procedure at our practice.

Find out More

If you are interested in The Modified Keyhole Spey OR Hysterectomy procedure as an alternative for your dog, please contact us via email

Information provided in the blog post has been sourced from:

Post Orthopaedic surgery Dog

How to Confine Your Dog after Orthopaedic Surgery

Helping Your Pet Heal After Orthopaedic Surgery

Looking after your dog after an orthopaedic procedure such as Cruciate Surgery can be a challenge.

In the human world you would most likely be kept in hospital at least for a day or two after surgery and provided with the necessary therapies these types of procedures require.

This includes but is not limited to cold therapy, pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications and supportive exercises.

When it comes to pets – the scenario could be quite different depending on individual practices’ approach to aftercare.

Preparing Yourself for Your Dog’s Surgery aftercare

Aftercare recommendations will vary with the type of procedure – and the individual Veterinary Hospital but most likely will include the following;

  • Some degree and methods of confinement. Restricting your dog’s movements for a specific time period following surgery.
  • Supportive pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Specific Rehabilitative exercise instructions.


You’ll hear this term used a lot. Your vet will stress the importance of suitable confinement to avoid accidental damage to the internal modifications which could include implants, (plates, pins, screws) delicate tissue reconstruction and other associated interventions.

Basically – confinement means restricting movement to enable the necessary healing to occur without incident..

Dictionary Definition

confinement – in Medicine

confinement con·fine·ment (kən-fīn’mənt) n.

  1. The act of restricting or the state of being restricted in movement.
  2. Lying-in.

Confining Your Dog After Orthopaedic SurgeryDepending on the type of procedure – confinement could involve initial Crate confinement and / or strict confinement to a “small area” such as a small room or child’s play pen.

Leaving your dog confined outdoors – even in a small backyard is NOT suitable.

The activity you need to avoid is running, jumping, quick turns,slipping on slippery surfaces and going up or down stairs.

And of course – keep your dog away from furniture such as beds or couches as jumping on or off these is a strict “No – No” and will result in injury.

If you are not home with your dog during this critical period – please ensure you take the necessary actions to ensure your dog remains safe while you are out.

The last thing you need is to have to take your dog back to the vet and pay another costly repair bill!


Your dog will need supportive medications to help manage the associated pain and discomfort that comes after such a procedure. Please give these as instructed by your vet. If your dog is in pain she will be less willing to eat which means the body does not have the necessary nutrients available which are so necessary to the healing process.

A diet high in quality proteins is ideal for this time period as proteins are vital to tissue repair.

Rehabilitation Exercises

After the critical period, you will be encouraged to introduce some specific tailored exercises to help restore original function. In the human world, you would be referred to a Physiotherapist who would prescribe a suitable exercise program for you.

Exercises would most likely be prescribed for your dog after the first scheduled revisit following the surgery and depend on the recovery to date.

Exercise may include “Slow Controlled Walks” – which means having your dog on a leash at all times.

Our Orthopaedic Surgery Aftercare Methods

Our post operative patients are NOT discharged on the same day as surgery and remain in hospital for at least 2 – 3 days following the procedure. During this time we provide the necessary Rehabilitative Therapies which are vital for optimal healing and recovery after such an invasive procedure.

This approach is not only beneficial for the patient but also to our clients who appreciate not having to take on the responsibility of this intense immediate post operative care at home.

Therapies we provide include:

  • Laser Therapy – to reduce pain and inflammation and speed up healing
  • Cold Compression Therapy [Game ready] immediately after surgery to reduce swelling of the surgical site.
  • Appropriate pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • A high protein diet – to encourage tissue repair processes.
  • Specific therapeutic exercises under the guidance of a Canine Rehabilitation Veterinarian.

So what does this aftercare cost?

We do not separate out the cost of this aftercare because it is a vital part of the procedure itself. Our fee estimations for these types of procedures will always include this necessary hospital aftercare. Once you have received your fee estimation for the procedure you can them compare this fee with other practices and specialist centres for your peace of mind.

P.S. To help you manage your dog at home for the first few weeks we have containment crates available for hire if you don’t already have one of your own.

Spey Fees – Cheap or Value for Money. What’s Your choice?

Why the Cheapest Option may Not be the Best Choice for Your Pet

Pet Desexing is probably the most “shopped for” service around despite the fact this procedure is far from simple and untraumatic for your pet.

Most clinics already generously discount this procedure to “encourage” desexing to help reduce the risk of producing unwanted litters of puppies and kittens but there is a limit as to how cheap you can be without compromising your pet’s health and wellbeing.

First of all you need to know that speying an animal is not simple “Snip and stitch” surgery. It’s highly invasive and traumatic surgery that needs the same care and attention as do similar abdominal procedures. Any compromises made can result the risk of infection, prolonged healing, unnecessary pain and discomfort for your pet.

While it’s fair to ask these procedure be done as cost effectively as possible to encourage desexing, it’s unreasonable to expect that this procedure is done so cheaply so as to risk an animal’s safety.

We find it quite unbelievable that people enquiring about desexing prices never ask what’s included in the price. There seems to be a mantra that “cheapest is best” and that what happens “behind the scenes” at all clinics is the same. Which is not true.

Let’s compare with [Similar Non – discounted] Abdominal Surgery

If your pet needed abdominal surgery – say to remove a foreign body, it would involve the following:

  1. Your pet would have a physical exam which includes checking heart and lung function
  2. Pre- Anaesthetic blood test would be taken to ensure that the organs responsible for removing the toxic by products of anaesthesia are healthy enough to do so.
  3. Your pet would be given sedation and pain relief prior to anaesthesia for smooth induction of gas anaesthesia.
  4. Anaesthetic monitoring equipment is used to monitor your pet throughout the procedure.
  5. A sterile surgical kit is prepared for your pet’s surgery. (Not shared amongst other patients)
  6. The vet uses sterile gloves and wears a sterile surgical gown and cap to minimise risk of contamination of the surgical site.
  7. A trained nurse is used to monitor your pet as well as assist the vet throughout the procedure.
  8. Fluid therapy is provided to maintain your pet’s hydration and blood pressure whilst under anaesthesia. (Anaesthetic drugs affect blood pressure and cause dehydration so fluid therapy is extremely valuable to your pet’s safety and recovery after surgery)
  9. Antibiotics and post surgery pain relief medications are provided as needed during and after the procedure.
  10. The patient is monitored in hospital until fully recovered from anaesthesia.

Fact: Spey prices are already discounted.

However when this already discounted service is discounted even further to get the sale – you really need to ask what’s being left out.

When Cheap is No Longer Cheap

  • When you end up having to take your pet to an emergency centre that night because she’s in so much pain you can’t bear to watch it.
  • When a six month old patient dies under anaesthesia due to undetected kidney disease because Pre-Anaesthetic blood tests were not performed. Yes this can happen!. Just recently we diagnosed kidney disease in a 6 month old patient by performing this test. This patient would most likely have died under anaesthesia if this problem had not been picked up before surgery. AND – she hasn’t been the only one!

Final Advice

Choose wisely and don’t fall for everything you see or hear on Social Media.

People make decisions based on different criteria.Too often these platforms are filled with advice to go here or there because you get the cheapest price.That’s fine if all you care about is price but we know most people change their mind very quickly once they find out more.

Get opinions from informed people – those who work in the profession and can provide factual information and those who share the same values about animal care you do.