Logo Healing Springs Animal Hospital - Galax VA
Modernizing the Traditional Spay
All Dog and Cat Owners Need to be Aware of the
THREE TYPES of Spay


(February 1, 2015) In all spays, the ovaries are removed. But in the most common type of spay in our area, the uterus is also removed unnecessarily, because it is tradition. Removing the uterus causes unnecessary surgical disruption and has no advantages. The better option is to remove only the ovaries. Removing only the ovaries has all the same advantages of the more common type of spay, but is less disruptive internally and can be done with a smaller incision. Removing only the ovaries doesn't even cost more. So why would you put your pet through an unnecessary hysterectomy?

Healing Springs Animal Hospital is now the first veterinary practice in Galax, VA and the region to fully adopt modern spay techniques that are as effective as formerly-used techniques but less invasive. Families will be glad to know that while the ovariectomy type of spay at Healing Springs will be less disruptive internally, the improved procedure will not cost more. Our ovariectomy type spays will cost the same as the old-fashioned ovariohysterectomies.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of spays taking place in Galax, VA, the Twin Counties and our broader region of southwest Virginia and northwest North Carolina.


Good Open Ovariohysterectomy (OVH) (Spay + Hysterectomy): In this procedure, your veterinarian removes the ovaries as needed but also removes the uterus for no reason. Compared to other types of spays, the surgical incision for this procedure is the largest. This is the most common procedure performed in our region at this time, and it is what all older veterinarians were taught in U.S. vet schools. Healing Springs recommends against this procedure for elective spays because it causes unnecessary internal disruption and requires an unnecessarily large surgical incision. However, we do give clients a form on which they can request that a hysterectomy be performed in conjunction with their spay.

Better Open Ovariectomy (OVE): In this procedure, a Healing Springs Animal Hospital surgeon will remove only the ovaries through a smaller incision. The uterus is not disturbed during an elective spay on a non-pregnant pet. The cost of the ovariectomy type of spay is the same as the old-fashioned ovariohysterectomy (OVH) type of spay.

Best Laparoscopic Ovariectomy (Lap Spay): Using a tiny, endoscopic camera and the most modern surgical equipment, we can work through one incision that is 6% of the normal size, and we cause far less disruption internally. This minimally invasive procedure is shown to reduce pain by 65% compared to a traditional spay. Healing Springs is the first and only veterinary clinic in our region offering this type of spay. For a full write-up on the laparoscopic ovariectomy, click here: Lap Spays in Southwest Virginia. Endoscopic equipment represents a significant financial investment in modern procedures, requires additional training for the surgeons, has higher supply costs, and requires additional time for staff to maintain and sterilize the equipment. For these reasons, the lap spay costs more than an old-fashioned, maximally invasive spay. Due to cost, many families may opt for the open ovariectomy (OVE) type of spay, but there is no reason to subject your pet to the old-fashioned ovariohysterectomy (spay + hysterectomy) as an elective procedure if you are driving distance from Healing Springs Animal Hospital (that would be in Galax, VA, Independence, VA, Woodlawn, VA, Hillsville, VA or Surry County, NC).

While the tradition of performing an unnecessary hysterectomy at the time of spay persists in the United States, the ovariectomy type of spay has been the standard of care in the Netherlands and other European countries for more than a decade. The high-quality research in favor of the ovariectomy type of spay has been in the scientific literature since before 20061. At Healing Springs Animal Hospital, we began performing ovariectomies in 2012, when we were the first veterinary clinic in the region to provide lap spays. We continued providing the common ovariohysterectomies (OVH), but our positive experience with the less invasive ovariectomy type of spays over these years has confirmed what we have been reading in the scientific literature. The ovariectomy has advantages over the old-fashioned type of spay, with no disadvantages, making the OVE the better choice over OVH for elective spays. This is why Healing Springs is now strongly recommends the types of spays that are better and best.

A common argument in favor of continuing with the old-fashioned ovariohysterectomy type of spay is that removing the healthy uterus during the spay may do a better job of preventing uterus-related diseases later in the pet's life. Specifically, the proven-false argument is that removing a healthy uterus is why spayed dogs have lower instances of pyometra, cystic endometrial hyperplasia, etc. In fact, the common uterine diseases are triggered by hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, inhibin, activin, and follistatin. All of these hormones are eliminated when the ovaries are removed.2 Scientific research has compared dogs spayed both ways and clearly demonstrates that both types of spay are equally effective at preventing a specific list of diseases.1,3 This means the benefits of spaying come not from removal of the uterus but from removal of the ovaries. The ovariectomy compared to the ovariohysterectomy proves equally effective at preventing ovarian neoplasia, vaginal hyperplasia, vaginal prolapse, cystic endometrial hyperplasia, pyometra, and mammary cancer.1-5


  1. Goethem B, Schaefers-Okkens A, Kirpensteijn J. Making a rational choice between ovariectomy and ovariohysterectomy in the dog: a discussion of the benefits of either technique. Veterinary Surgery. 2006; 35: 136-143. [NCBI]
  2. Noakes D. Endogenous and exogenous control of ovarian cyclicity. In: Noakes DE, Parkinson TJ, England GCW, eds. Veterinary reproduction and obstetrics. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders, 2009;6-9.
  3. Detora M, McCarthy R. Ovariohysterectomy versus ovariectomy for elective sterilization of female dogs and cats: is removal of the uterus necessary? JAVMA. 2011; 239 (11): 1409-1412.
  4. Hedlund CS. Surgery of the reproductive and genital systems. In: Fossum TW, ed. Small animal surgery. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo:Mosby Elsevier, 2007;709-710.
  5. Schneider R, Dorn CR, Taylor DO. Factors influencing canine mammary cancer development and postsurgical survival. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1969;43:1249-1261.

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Phone: (276) 236-5103
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