Ovary Sparing Spays & Vasectomies - NOT Your Regular Spay/Neuter!
For many years I have know that a puppy's sex hormones are important for proper growth. The struggle came with wanting puppy purchasers to wait to spay/neuter until puppy was fully grown (about 12 to 18 months), conflicting with what most of their vets recommend of spay/neutering at 6-8 months in order to prevent accidental litters. I tried for years to balance both by not enforcing a minimum age to spay/neuter in my purchase contract like many breeders do, and at the same time recommending waiting until puppy was at least a year old. The results continually disappointed me as most our pups ended up spay/neutered too young, which I knew was detrimental to their health. So I started to rethink my contract and to searching for an alternative if there was one to be found. In my research I found out two things:
- That those sex hormones were SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than I originally realized - with very significant increases in occurrence for labrador retrievers of ACL tears, bone cancers, and joint issues when removed early - along with many other effects on health. Please see this veterinarian written paper for a great break down as well as this vet's video testimony regarding the negative effects of spay/neuter.
- I found exactly what I had been searching for! There was indeed a sterilization procedure (satisfying the vets pet overpopulation concerns) that would leave sex hormones intact (satisfying my want for doing what was best for the health of the puppies we produce) -ovary sparing spays (oss) and vasectomies! Please see this page for a simple to read explanation of oss.
So after weeks of research both online and in speaking to many vets, I decided that it was in the best interest of my pups that these procedures now be done on all pet and service dog puppies before going to their new families. By doing so I can be sure that the sex hormones will be spared for the essential time frame, and eliminate the occurrence of accidental litters or dishonest backyard breeding of our pups (breedings done against contract and without the proper health testing). Few vets in Canada yet perform these procedures, but after much searching I was delighted to find one somewhat local. For the purchaser this means that their pup does NOT need another surgery down the road 🙂
For males I see no need to remove testicles down the road. With some breeds there may be concern of testosterone related aggression, but this would not apply to labs in my opinion - my intact males are as much loving sucks for attention as my females are and have shown no aggression with other males when I take them to dogshows – let alone the negative personality effects removing the sex hormones can have on dogs as detailed in the links above.
Females will still display signs of being in heat twice a year – vulva will swell and will smell attractive to males and stand for breeding – so care will still need to be taken to keep her away from males during this time as all breedings come with physical and disease risks. However, bloody discharges should be non-existent or very minimal (a couple drips for a couple days at most) since the entire uterus is gone. The only time I foresee a purchaser wanting to remove ovaries down the road is when there is a male dog also in the family which would make keeping the female separate during her heat harder.
Some people have expressed concern about young pups undergoing surgery - that it would be hard on their little bodies. It is actually the opposite! They come out of the anesthetic easier than older dogs, and bounce back much faster. By the time I get home that evening I can't even tell which pups have had the surgeries vs the ones that didn't - they are right back to themselves. And another plus is that they don't mess with their incisions at all so we've never coned a single pup! I invite you to click here to see a video of our first litter sterilized by these procedures, less than 24hrs after their surgeries.
“Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell.” Emily Dickinson