Q: I heard about a new way of spaying dogs that's supposed to be easier on them than the traditional surgery. Can you tell me more about it?
A: Spay surgery - known technically as an ovariohysterectomy - is the removal of the ovaries and uterus through an abdominal incision. It's usually done when puppies are 6 to 9 months old, although it can be done as early as 8 weeks of age or at any time in adulthood.
The procedure you ask about is called an ovariectomy, and it involves removing only the ovaries. It's done laparoscopically, meaning the surgeon makes two tiny incisions: one for placement of a small camera so the organs can be seen, and one for inserting instruments to remove the ovaries.
Called a "lap spay" for short, the technique is associated with less pain and a more rapid recovery time than traditional spay surgery. The lap spay doesn't require as much manipulation of the organs, so it is easier to perform. It's well-suited to young dogs because they are usually healthy and not overweight.
The drawback is that lap spays aren't yet widely available and can be more expensive than traditional spays.
Veterinarians who perform the procedure must first undergo advanced training and obtain specialized equipment. Before scheduling your dog for one, ask how many lap spays the veterinarian has performed and what the success rates were.