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Keyhole Spays

What is it? What happens? Let us answer some of your questions

Keyhole Spays

What is it? What happens? Let us answer some of your questions

Spaying female dogs is a surgery that involves removing part of the reproductive tract including the ovaries, and therefore the reproductive hormones. We advise spaying female dogs from 6 months old (we will sometimes recommend slightly later in large or giant breed dogs). Spaying early reduces the risk of mammary (breast) cancer, prevents the development of a “pyometra” (potentially fatal womb infection) and prevents unwanted pregnancies.

Routine neutering of female dogs is widely accepted to have preventative health benefits for your dog as well avoiding the inconvenience of seasons and risk of unwanted pregnancies. We perform these operations on a very regular basis and the risk of serious complications is extremely low. A traditional midline spay operation is however still major abdominal surgery. We take care to provide appropriate pain relief but dogs will undoubtedly experience some discomfort in the days following surgery. Proper post operative care of wounds and ensuring rest during healing are very important to ensure a good recovery. Like any procedure we perform, our patients are provided with individual aftercare information for you to go home with.

We routinely perform keyhole spays and have been able to offer this procedure for several years. There are many advantages over the traditional open spay including smaller skin wounds, quicker recovery, less pain and normally no need for a “lampshade collar” at home. All our surgical patients have the option of a pre-anaesthetic blood sample which can be run in the practice laboratory within an hour to check blood cells, liver and kidney function to ensure they are as healthy as possible before their procedure and all patients are put in IV fluids to support them during surgery. We have advanced monitoring equipment and a highly trained team who check blood pressure, oxygen levels and capnography throughout the anaesthetic to make it as safe as possible.

Advantages of keyhole surgery

  • Less invasive surgery
  • Smaller wounds means significantly less pain and less complications in healing
  • Quicker recovery with usually 48 hours rest
  • No need for strict rest following the procedure
  • No need for cone
  • Less medication required. Dogs undergoing keyhole surgery will have pain relief at the time of surgery but generally do not need pain relief to go home with

Key hole spays as an outpatient procedure

This remains a surgical procedure requiring a general anaesthetic and as with any procedure there are still risks, but the aim is to make it as easy as possible for your dog to attain the positive effects of neutering. For mature adult dogs, we recommend surgery 4 months from when the last season has finished.

We can offer this procedure for pet owners who live outside of the Weymouth/ Dorchester area or are registered with other local practices as an outpatient procedure. The surgery is only a day procedure, patients do not normally need to stay with us overnight and we can easily share medical notes with your normal registered vet.

If you are not a registered client of ours, or we have not seen your pet recently, we will arrange an admit appointment on the morning of the spay. This will include a full health check with one of our veterinary surgeons who can discuss the details of the surgery with you.

Keyhole Spay Vs Traditional Open Spay

Keyhole Spay

  • 2 small wounds approx. 0.5cm long each
  • Only remove the ovaries
  • No pain relief needed at home after
  • Normally no need for “lampshade” collar  
  • Back to normal activity in 72hrs
  • Require a general anaesthetic

Traditional Open Spay

  • 1 long wound average. 4-8cm (<15cm)
  • Remove ovaries and uterus
  • Pain relief needed at home for days after
  • Require a “lampshade” collar or medical shirt  
  • Strict rest for up to 14 days
  • Require a general anaesthetic

How is a keyhole spay performed?

A keyhole spay is performed under a general anaesthetic. A wide area of hair over the belly is clipped to allow the operation to be performed in a sterile manner. The main difference is that the procedure is performed through two 1/2 centimetre holes into the abdomen using special instruments and a camera instead of the larger opening into the abdomen that wound be necessary for a surgeon to perform a conventional spay.

Frequently asked questions

Will my dog be uncomfortable after surgery?

A keyhole spay is not a pain free procedure but is in the region of 65% less painful than a conventional spay and most owners reports their dogs appear to be ‘back to normal’ within 24-48 hours.

Will there be external stitches?

No. There will usually be just a single dissolvable stitch under the skin in each wound.

Does it matter if my dog licks the wounds?

Licking is to be discouraged and some dogs will require preventative measures to stop them opening up the wounds. Less pain generally means less inclination to worry at wounds but determined lickers can open the wounds which can invite post operative complications such as infection. However, this is much less likely with a keyhole spay and wounds can be left to heal in most cases.

Do I need to rest my dog after surgery?

We recommend keeping your dog quiet for the first 24 hours to allow recovery from the anaesthetic but are happy for dogs to return to normal walking after this. We suggest avoiding more vigorous exercise such as ball chasing or agility classes for a week after surgery. It can take up to 48 hours for the effects of anaesthetic to completely wear off.

Do you remove the ovaries and the womb?

No. A laparoscopic spay involves removal of the ovaries only. This gives all the health benefits of a conventional spay including prevention of pyometras (serious uterine infections) and your dog will not come into season. There is no advantage in removing the uterus (womb) once the ovaries have been removed.

If you would like further information, please contact our reception team.

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