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Which spay option?

  • Ovary sparing spay

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • Ovarioectomy

    Votes: 2 22.2%
  • Ovariohysterectomy

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Left intact

    Votes: 4 44.4%

  • Total voters
    9
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm really, truly conflicted on what to do when Ryka hits two. It's still a year away, so I have lots of time to consider what I plan to do. But lots of what I've found can be conflicting. There's basically four options for me:

1. Ovary Sparing Spay
2. Ovarioectomy
3. Ovariohysterectomy
4. Left intact

I was 100% convinced I wanted to do an ovary spaying spay, until I recently had a friend who did this have their own female GSD experience pyometra as the vet had not perfectly removed the uterus. I know it can happen, and it does depend on the skills of the vet.

I have heard of an ovarioectomy before, and I believe it's more common in Europe that in North America. It's kind of the exact opposite where the uterus is left in tact, but the ovaries are removed instead so no more hormones are produced and certain cancer risks are reduced.

Then there's doing the whole shebang... and I just don't feel comfortable with that to be honest. But it's still an option.

I'm never planning on breeding her, so leaving her in tact is really just a matter of leaving her body alone. I don't care about heats, and I'm a helicopter dog owner as it is, so I don't have any concerns of her ever getting pregnant (standing in -40 degrees Celsius while your dog pees just because you don't want her to be alone while she's in heat, even though you have 7ft fences surrounding you, for example).

I'd love to hear some input from you guys, what you've found with your own research, and some great resources to think about. I've done a fair amount of my own research, but every time I think about any of the options I feel pretty conflicted. I think the one option I'm definitely not comfortable with is a full ovariohysterectomy.
 

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Id do an OSS but just make sure you find a vet that understands how crucial it is to cut at the cervix to make sure EVERY bit of uterus is out. An experienced vet with OSS can do that no problem :). I had OSS done on my girl a few years ago and have been very pleased
 

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Once upon a time, my veterinarian told me that every bitch will get pyometra. Currently, I have two that will be 13 in a few months, one who will be 12, two that will be 10 all in August. Joy will be 9 in July. Bear just turned eight. Hepsi, 7. Karma and Lassie are 5. and then there are the babies age 2, Ramona and Quinnie. All are intact.

I have a bitch that is spayed. Odie is 10 and I spayed her a few years ago, when she was empty/false pregnancy. She had always needed c-sections, and never expelled any fluid prior to the c-section, even if the placentas were already separating from the uterine wall. So when she was full of fluid, but no puppies, I had them go ahead and spay her. It was not pyo, but it could have turned into pyo.

So far I haven't dealt with pyometra. All these intact bitches and no pyo. If you are a helicoptor-mom, then you will know if your bitch is having an off day, draining fluid, or getting really sick from closed pyo. I just don't like doing something invasive as a preventative for something that may or may not happen. To me it is like chopping off your leg because it might develop bone cancer, and having your spleen removed because it might develop cancer.

Sometimes the stuff we do to try and prevent issues causes issues. And then how do we deal with that?
 

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Once upon a time, my veterinarian told me that every bitch will get pyometra. Currently, I have two that will be 13 in a few months, one who will be 12, two that will be 10 all in August. Joy will be 9 in July. Bear just turned eight. Hepsi, 7. Karma and Lassie are 5. and then there are the babies age 2, Ramona and Quinnie. All are intact.

I have a bitch that is spayed. Odie is 10 and I spayed her a few years ago, when she was empty/false pregnancy. She had always needed c-sections, and never expelled any fluid prior to the c-section, even if the placentas were already separating from the uterine wall. So when she was full of fluid, but no puppies, I had them go ahead and spay her. It was not pyo, but it could have turned into pyo.

So far I haven't dealt with pyometra. All these intact bitches and no pyo. If you are a helicoptor-mom, then you will know if your bitch is having an off day, draining fluid, or getting really sick from closed pyo. I just don't like doing something invasive as a preventative for something that may or may not happen. To me it is like chopping off your leg because it might develop bone cancer, and having your spleen removed because it might develop cancer.

Sometimes the stuff we do to try and prevent issues causes issues. And then how do we deal with that?
I actually looked into this because there was a rather popular thread on reddit the other day about how everyone NEEDS to spay their dog simply because of pyometra.
And as I am getting a bitch I wanted to know what's up and came across this study:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11817057
Which shows certain breeds are much more prone to it than others. Luckily for us German Shepherd was on the low-end (At a 1.2 - with the Collie scoring the highest risk factor of 4.5 directly followed by the Rottweiler - the Dachshund was the lowest at 0.3) of the risk factor... not so well for us they speculate it could be because more of them died before 10 years old than some of the other breeds. :( (The Collie's % of dead was 9% at 4<5, the GSD was at 17% dead, even with the Drever and closely followed by the Bernse Mountain Dog. At age 6<7 our breed has long been passed by the BMD which is at 32 % dead and the GSD was at 25%, closely followed by the Drever at 24%) Luckily for us the breed risk for pyometra seems to remain rather low in the dogs surveyed but start spiking once the bitch passes her 6th year

So in the end I came to the conclusion that I will keep my girl intact. The risk exists but imo it is one issue among many the dog could get. Or perhaps I'd consider a late spay. But I will stay away from anything before 2 years. Maybe even 4. Most research that I've looked into suggests that early spay has the most severe effect on a dogs health so imo if you really want to spay at least wait (as long as you can make sure your dog will not get pregnant during that time frame).
 

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Hormones are good. Hormones are natural. Females that are intact can be messy, so if you're not into dealing with that part, at least save the ovaries.
 

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I have seen some responsible breeders bring their dogs in with bad cases of pyo some had made some not. It most often occurs in older female. If you choose to do either oes or oss it so it is so important you can find and trust a vet and he is experienced doing such a surgery. I had not even know about a oes till recently -so many choices. Many highly reputable vets do not so the surgery in my area and I’m not going to breed my female so will planning to get her spayed around 4-5 or so. Hormones are very important so any spay or neuter should be at least over two if decided to do so. They make those great underpants for the females in heat and it sure helps and really those 3 weeks go by fast. I do not have to keep Luna locked up in a crate for three weeks and housebound when she is in heat. The household is not hectic where she will be left outside unattended accidentally. I’m smart about it and take her to remote places but she still gets to enjoy her life during the three weeks she is in heat so it is not much of a inconvenience at all. She is also in heat around April and October so we know to plan any vacations ahead of time around her. Max has been neutered after two as he had a retained testicle and he has not changed a bit and is still fit as a intact 3 year old.
 

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I had Carly spayed when she was 6 (she’s 8 now) because I got worried about pyo. I had a good friend whose dog had to have an emergency spay because of it, and it scared me. Scarlet is almost 2, and have no plans to spay since I’m showing her. When she gets older, I’ll deal with the decision then.
 

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Yup, just had pyo with my 7 year old intact female. I am very attentive and caught it early so she never was toxic or in danger, but it was an emergency spay, and cost $1,000. In future, I will spay my girls at around 7-8. Most pyos hit around age 7. It's super common, my vet said 30% of females will suffer pyo, and all my research backs that up- there are some good studies in European countries where females are left intact.

It can be deadly, and it can be very expensive and dangerous for the female if it is closed pyo and the owner doesn't notice immediately. As in $4- 5 K and hospitalization, and real risk of losing the female.

Sure, some get lucky, but I've had 100% of my intact girls over age 7 get pyo so far, so, that's my experience!

I'd just wait until age 6 or so and schedule a complete spay. Why risk the life of your girl, I won't do it again.

Also, remember if you do not frequently breed your female, or do not breed her at all, she's probably got a ton of ovarian cysts by the time she is around 6-7 and honestly, I think those are probably painful for the dog. If you do breed frequently, the female is less likely to get pyo, but I mean frequently, like at least 3 times.

Women who know they have the gene for high risk of breast/ovarian cancer will do preventative "spay" and mastectomies. I do not even think their risk is as high as 30%. So, yeah, I think it's a good idea to spay a female to prevent pyo, but that it is fine to wait until the female is mature (age 2 and up) or is done breeding (generally age 7 or so).
 

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I chose OSS, because that is what I did and am very happy with it. I do not have any female dogs.

Yes, I am talking about myself lol But I do apply the benefits to dogs too, because ..well...similar pros and cons. The benefits of maintaining a biologically normal hormone cycle seemed way greater to me than the full shebang (I had a fistula so at the very least a partial was needed, otherwise Id have done nothing) . Downside was still a chance of ovarian cancer (with good insurance, for me, advanced screening and testing is a goso it lowers the risk enough for me to be comfortable with it), and chance of a 2nd surgery if the rest does have to go for some reason.

Any of my friends who had a full, prior to their ovaries naturally shutting down, had some reasonable life altering side effects from the sudden premature withdrawal of hormones to the point they took HRTs that had a whole other set of risks. I'm sure it can be the same for animals (I don't know why we don't assume it is at least somewhat similar), they just can't ask for a script :)
 

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We just did a laparoscopic ovariectomy. In my area a traditional spay (removing the ovaries AND uterus) is the norm. I only know of two vets that do laparoscopic ovariectomy, none that do ovary sparing.

I was informed that risks Pyometra were eliminated by removing the ovaries. Stump Pyometra occurs when a "stump" or piece of the ovary is not fully removed and that the improved "view" through laparoscopy greatly reduces that risk.

I struggled over the decision to spay. I have zero desire to breed, and although not ideal I could live with the bleeding. But my girl is in heat for the FULL four weeks. Losing two months out of each year of off leash fun was the deciding factor for me.

Certainly not an easy decision.
 

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So glad i found this site. forgive my ignorance please as i don't know much on the subject. Im just recalling my breeder telling me life longevity studies have said its not to spay before adulthood. That generally around age 6 or 7 some of the risks cancers and issues start to increase and its a good idea to spay at that age. My female just turned 7 and planned to get her spayed this summer during my vacation. Im embarrassed to say i have never heard of pyo. Im beginning to panic some and thinking i should spay ASAP. Why wouldn't people spay an adult if there is a chance of pyo?
 

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So glad i found this site. forgive my ignorance please as i don't know much on the subject. Im just recalling my breeder telling me life longevity studies have said its not to spay before adulthood. That generally around age 6 or 7 some of the risks cancers and issues start to increase and its a good idea to spay at that age. My female just turned 7 and planned to get her spayed this summer during my vacation. Im embarrassed to say i have never heard of pyo. Im beginning to panic some and thinking i should spay ASAP. Why wouldn't people spay an adult if there is a chance of pyo?
Hopefully you will get a better answer than mine, but everything has risks. Spaying is an invasive surgery under general anesthesia and it disrupts the natural hormonal balance. Our trainer who is also a GSD breeder is totally against altering dogs. He feels the risks of spay/neuter are greater than leaving them intact.

There are so many opinions it will make your head spin.

Fortunately I realized quickly that the common vet advice to spay early has nothing to do with the health of your dog and everything to do with reducing the pet overpopulation.
 

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I'm not voting because it depends on your circumstances. I was seriously thinking of an OSS but decided to go for a full spay. We have an intact male and during my gal's 2nd heat we lived through a lot of moaning and whining during her season. My guy only wanted to sing songs of love over and over. My gal got moody. We missed out on a favorite dog event because she was in heat. So for two or three months out of the year, we wouldn't be able to do much with our dogs or get much sleep. I've had spayed females before and they've all had good lives.

If I only had my one gal and seldom brought her places, I probably would have gone with the OSS.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
These are some really great responses everyone, thank you. I appreciate it. I just recently joined a FB group that specifically discusses alternative spaying/neutering techniques, and the resources are there are profound. I think I'm going to do what @Muskeg suggests - leave my girl in tact until she's around 6-7, and then likely decide upon either an OSS, OES, or full spay. That way by the time she hits her true adult years, she's had enough hormonal exposure and has had a true chance to grow, develop, and change as nature intended.
@selzer - were your adult intact females bred? Do you think that had anything to do with keeping them healthy and free of pyo if so?
@brownclown - Pyo is pretty scary. I didn't know about it myself until I really started researching prior to choosing on a breed a few years ago. I always grew up with male rescues who were neutered by 5 months, and the one male we left intact (GSD/Husky mix) we ended up having to rehome when I was about 11 because the next door neighbor decided to become a BYB for Rotties and left her female unattended and chained up in her backyard. Truly a recipe for disaster. I recently came across this wordpress page that I feel explains pyo, spay complications, etc. very well: https://healthyandhappydog.wordpress.com/pyometra/.
@car2ner - I am somewhat worried about the woeful nights to come in a few years when my partner decides to get his showline male, lol. That won't be until my girl is almost 4 though, so I have some time to remain blissfully unaware of how awful it will be. Lots of my club members have both intact males and females and seem to manage, though they all live on acreages, so that probably helps with keeping space between the dogs. One day I'll be on an acreage... one day!
 

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My breeder hasn't had pyometra in his dogs. It is not as common as everyone wants you to believe. It does require vigilance after their heat though. But I am doing just that and leave her intact.
 

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My mastiff had pyro, and it went bad very quickly. $1500 later she was fine. But it was a rough go for a while. She swoll up HUGE in just a short amount of time.

I intend to leave Genali intact at least until she is 3 or 4. I want to wait and see how her hips and elbows do, and if I have the time, I may try to title her in some stuff (I really have decided which direction she will take me yet). I'll hold off on the spay until she is mature, and we can see what we are dealing with first.

Wolfy dog..........you mentioned "vigilance after their heat". Would you mind expanding on this for me? What is your method?
 

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@selzer - were your adult intact females bred? Do you think that had anything to do with keeping them healthy and free of pyo if so?
Jenna and Babsy were
Heidi was not
Milla and Ninja were not
Joy was not
Bear was
Hepsi was not
Karma was
Lassie was not (yet)
Quinn and Ramona have not been (yet).

Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn't. I have not found that it does. I think that maybe pyo runs in some lines. Or maybe I've been lucky. But I also think that it is something that is over-reported because it falls into the pro-alter agenda. But there's me being paranoid again.
 

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Id do an OSS but just make sure you find a vet that understands how crucial it is to cut at the cervix to make sure EVERY bit of uterus is out. An experienced vet with OSS can do that no problem :). I had OSS done on my girl a few years ago and have been very pleased
I've been considering an OSS but now not so sure. Your girl still goes into heat w/o bleeding, right? How can you tell? Does she want to mate? Does she still have hormonal, behavioral changes?
 

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I've been considering an OSS but now not so sure. Your girl still goes into heat w/o bleeding, right? How can you tell? Does she want to mate? Does she still have hormonal, behavioral changes?
There is an Ovary Sparing Spay group on Facebook. I haven't been there lately but they did have a wealth of material in their notes section. As far as I know, your bitch will still cycle, be hormonal...which may or may not change her behavior... she just won't bleed because there is no uterus. You don't want another dog to mount her even though she won't get pregnant..there might be injury.
 

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I've been considering an OSS but now not so sure. Your girl still goes into heat w/o bleeding, right? How can you tell? Does she want to mate? Does she still have hormonal, behavioral changes?
Yes she goes into heat without bleeding. I'm good at reading her so can usually tell (she pees a lot the week before) and she still licks herself while in season even though there's nothing to clean - she was very very diligent about cleaning herself before though. My intact male also let me know when she was in standing heat because he kept wimpering lightly for 2 days. However, nothing like full blown heat. He was totally calm if she was just in a different room. Separating them upstairs/downstairs he didn't even know she was in the house. Even having her 20+ feet away he wouldn't notice her. He was a little restless if she was right near him. He wanted to obsessively sniff her crotch in the 2 days before standing heat (all to be expected) - during standing heat total separation for his sanity - but after standing heat he all but ignored her and I could go back to walking them together.

I feel like her behavioral changes went down a lot, it's like a much much milder version. She also quit getting some false pregnancy symptoms (she used to nest and pant for a few days around 'puppy time' in the timeline).

However, I still strongly recommend treating them like an intact dog. I still keep her under strict supervision. OSS isn't a free pass to let them loose with a male - they can still get hurt in a tie - just a great backup and eliminating the pyo worry is peace on my mind.
 
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