Keyhole Dog Spays at Shipston Vets

We are really excited to announce that we now perform laparoscopic (keyhole) dog spays at Shipston Vets, in addition to our 'normal' traditional spays. To be able to offer this service, some of our vets have undergone additional training and we have invested in brand new video equipment to perform the procedure.


Meet Hepzi. Hepzi was our first laparoscopic spay patient. She is a 17 month old working springer spaniel who loves to run! The thought of resting Hepzi for at least 7 days was too much for her and her owner! Here she is having her laparoscopic procedure, carried out by Vet Hannah.

Please see the video below, and see how Hepzi was feeling just 48 hours after her major spay procedure. NOTE! Her vet had performed her post op check and confirmed she was allowed to run free!

Please read below all about our exciting new service!

What is a laparoscopic dog spay and how is it different to a 'normal' spay?

A 'normal' or traditional dog spay involves the surgeon making a larger incision (hole) in the patient's abdomen to remove the ovaries and uterus (womb), so performing an ovariohysterectomy. These patients need to have an anaesthetic and receive a cocktail of pain relief to make sure they stay nice and comfortable. They generally require at least 7 - 10 days of strict rest to recover from their procedure.


A laparoscopic spay still requires the patient to have a full general anaesthetic. Once safely asleep, however, it is a minimally invasive approach. Just two small incisions, approximately 1cm long each, are made in the patient's abdomen to allow us to pass a camera, and the instruments in. These incisions allow the instruments to get closer to the ovaries; it is the movement and stretching of the ovaries that contributes to the pain of this procedure and so these patients often require less pain relief medication overall. Only the ovaries are removed, and so this procedure is called an ovariectomy. The ovaries are removed using cautery, so no stitches are placed inside the abdomen, unlike the traditional spay.


The uterus is not removed, but there is no evidence to show this increases the risk of pyometras (infection of the uterus; very common in older, entire females, can be life threatening if not treated quickly). Pyometras develop in those pets who still have their ovaries and uterus, because it is the ovaries who produce hormones called progesterone and it is progesterone which influences the development of a pyometra in the uterus. Removing the ovaries removes the source of the progesterone.


What are the advantages of a laparoscopic spay?

-Much faster recovery and return to normal activity. We find most pets are back to their normal self within 24 hours of the surgery, but we do ask for strict rest for just 48 hours.


-Reduced pain from the procedure itself and the wounds, meaning your pet should not need as much medication and will be more comfortable in a shorter period of time.


-Smaller surgical wounds and fewer stitches. This may reduce the risk of post operative complications such as swellings, breakdowns and infections.


-Enhanced visualisation of the procedure may reduce the risk of part of the ovary being left behind which can lead to ovarian remnant syndrome.

(Please note this does not mean the traditional spay involves the patient suffering in more pain, all patients have pain relief plans tailored to them and their procedure, to ensure they are as comfortable as possible).


Are there any risks?

As with all procedures involving the patient undergoing a general anaesthetic, usual anaesthetic risks apply, albeit very low. Our team will discuss these with you on the day of the procedure but please get in touch in advance should you have any concerns.


We will ask for your consent to open up the patient's abdomen and convert to the traditional spay method if needed. This is very unlikely and we will only make this decision if a situation arises that means conversion will reduce any risks to the patient.


At present, there is no clear difference between laparoscopic and traditional spays for reducing the development of urinary incontinence later in life, post operative weight gain, or coat quality changes.


What happens on the day of the surgery?

As with all our surgical patients, you will receive our pre-operative instructions ahead of surgery and a confirmation call the night before reminding you to remove all food by 10pm. Please ensure you have received an estimate if you would like one. All of our prices include the anaesthetic, procedure, hospitalisation, pain relief, buster collar, recovery food and post operative check.


A vet or nurse will admit your pet on the day of their surgery and go through all information with you again. This is when you will sign a consent form. We still need to clip a relatively large area of coat on the patient's abdomen to ensure the procedure remains sterile. Once the procedure has been performed, dissolvable stitches are placed, hidden in the skin.


Following a straight forward procedure, your pet will come home the same day with a post operative instruction sheet and some anti-inflammatory pain relief. We ask for 48 hours strict rest, even though you will notice your pet feeling and looking back to normal 24 hours later. This is to ensure everything is healing well on the inside. We therefore carry out a post operative check 48 hours after the procedure to give you peace of mind to resume normal activity. Although they are only small wounds, please use the buster collar included at all times to protect against your pet licking them. You can purchase medical shirts if you prefer. Some pets may be a little sleepy and have a reduced appetite the evening after an anaesthetic.


Why is it more expensive than a traditional spay?

Laparoscopic spays involve the use of a lot more advanced equipment which is very expensive to purchase, run and maintain. Furthermore, the surgeons performing these procedures have to go through additional training and continue to maintain their skills in this area.


Can other procedures be done by keyhole?

Yes. We can use keyhole surgery for dog castrates that have a retained testicle. We can also perform keyhole liver, kidney and spleen biopsies using this equipment.


Please contact the practice if you would like to discuss your dog having a laparoscopic spay procedure, and for prices.