Neutering a Female Dog
One of the most common types of surgery carried out at Evergreen is neutering of male and female animals. Owners are often very concerned about this surgery so when our bitch, Taz, was spayed we decided to photograph the procedure so that we can explain what is done and why.
On arrival at the surgery Taz was very excited. She is used to coming into the surgery and enjoys the fuss she receives from the nurses. Soon after arrival she was given a pre-med. There are several reasons why this is given. It reduces the animal's anxiety making it easier to administer the general anaesthetic. It also reduces the amount of anaesthetic that needs to be given, so reducing the associated side-effects and enables a smoother recovery after the operation. Part of the pre-med is also a specific painkiller.
When the pre-med had had time to take effect an intravenous cannula was placed in a vein in her foreleg. This was used to administer the general anaesthetic . The type of anaesthesia used at Evergreen allows a smooth recovery and in human medicine is widely used for infants and children. Once she was asleep an endotracheal tube was passed into her windpipe and she was changed onto an inhalation anaesthetic. The gaseous anaesthetic used at Evergreen is comparatively expensive but we have chosen to use this product as it is particularly safe.(It is also used in children.) It causes less depression of the breathing system and allows a more rapid and smoother recovery than alternatives.
The catheter was then connected to an intravenous giving set. It is not always necessary to administer intravenous fluids when a bitch is being neutered but at Evergreen we offer these as a recommended "optional extra". As we always ask that the dog does not have a drink on the morning of the surgery the fluids improve their hydration status.They also help maintain their circulation during the anaesthetic therefore increasing the safety of the anaesthetic. These factors all help towards a smooth and speedy recovery.
At Evergreen all our nurses are fully qualified. We can therefore ensure that all anaesthesia is administered by an experienced veterinary surgeon and maintained and monitored by an experienced, qualified veterinary nurse. To monitor the anaesthetic they use not only their experience to assess the level of anaesthesia but also various machines that measure the oxygen level in the bloodstream, the carbon dioxide level in the air that is breathed out and the animal's temperature, heart rate and pulse quality. Heated pads are used to maintain the temperature both during and after the anaesthetic.
Once anaesthetised Taz was shaved and the area around the operation site cleaned and prepared for surgery. She was then moved into the operating room. A special bag allowed her to be held comfortably in the correct position and helped to keep her warm.
Traditionally, neutering a bitch has involved the removal of both ovaries to prevent her coming into season and the removal of the uterus down to the level of the cervix. This was considered necessary to prevent problems developing later. The drawbacks of this type of surgery are that it requires a long wound that extends most of the length of the abdomen. Also, some bitches will show signs of cystitis after the surgery because the cervix sits very close to the bladder. Recently however, research has shown that it is not necessary to remove the uterus and the cervix. Performing only an ovariectomy allows a shorter incision. The operation is quicker and the recovery faster. It also avoids any irritation around the bladder.
At Evergreen we are able to perform either of these types of surgery. Taz had an ovariectomy.
After the operation was complete her abdomen was sutured using dissolving sutures in the abdominal wall. Nylon sutures, that have to be removed, closed the skin. An additional pain killer was given at this time to provide pain relief for the next 24 hours. The anaesthetic gas was turned off and she was given oxygen only for a few minutes until her reflexes started to return and she could no longer tolerate the endotracheal tube. She was placed back into her heated kennel while still connected to the intravenous fluids. Within a short period of time she was able to sit up and move around.
After a couple of hours the drip was removed. Although fully recovered she was still feeling in need of extra attention and cuddles. We brought her home several hours later when she enjoyed a small special meal of tinned chicken and rice (she usually only has dry food) and went out to the toilet. She seemed a little lost and needing comfort. She spent quite a lot of time licking the area where the cannula had been inserted into her leg. That evening she sttled down to sleep in her usual bed.
She had been given 3 days of pain relief after the surgery and the next morning she took her tablet in food without a problem. She was still subdued but showing some aspects of her usual behaviour such as chewing her toys. We left her with our son while we were at work and when we returned that evening she was very lively indeed and tried to run around as though nothing had happened.
She had to be kept still for several days and was only allowed exercise while on a lead. This was quite a challenge!
After 10 days her sutures were removed. Although her exercise was restricted for a couple more days she could then chase around as normal.
The wound, recovery periods and degree of discomfort are comparable with laparoscopic spaying whilst being more economical and with a lower incidence of complications.