February 16, 2022 Surgery

World Spay Day 2022: What You Need to Know

Snake with eggs x-ray

World Spay Day 2022: What You Need to Know

February 22 is World Spay Day. “Spay” is an interesting word, since it seems to have nothing to do with removing the ovaries and uterus of a female dog. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word spay has a complicated linguistic heritage. Starting with the Latin spatha (a Roman cavalry officer’s sword), through Old French, Anglo-Norman and Middle English, it became espeer (to pierce) and finally spayen leading to the modern day spay. With this linguistic background, one might think the term could apply to both male and female dogs, but neuter is the term commonly used for removing the testicles of male dogs.

In today’s blog post, I’ll discuss spays, neuters and their application beyond dogs and cats – for example, the snake x-rayed above. Read on to learn more!

Traditional Spay vs. Non-Invasive Spay

Traditionally, a spay is a surgical procedure performed through an incision in the stomach to remove the ovaries and uterus, known medically as an ovariohysterectomy. However, with the use of non-invasive spay techniques, such as laparoscopic spay, the procedure has evolved to just remove the ovaries, known medically as an ovariectomy. Both ovariohysterectomy and ovariectomy eliminate heat cycles, prevent reproduction and remove the hormones that produce mating behaviors. Spaying your dog or cat can also act to prevent several health conditions, such as pyometra and certain cancers.

Neuter vs. Vasectomy

The male version of a spay is commonly called neutering. Neutering surgically removes the testicles, preventing mating behaviors and the ability to father offspring. A vasectomy will also prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, but it will not affect mating behaviors because the testicles are not removed during a vasectomy and still produce mating hormones. In male cats, one of the main advantages of neutering is preventing male cats from spraying stinky cat urine indoors, a common territory marking behavior. Vasectomy will not prevent smelly urine spritzing by your male cat.

Spaying Exotic Pets

Snake with eggs x-ray
Three oval eggs can be seen in this snake x-ray

Veterinarians in AMC’s Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine Service spay many different species of animals and, in a previous blogpost, I describe the reasons for spaying mini-pigs, birds and rabbits. The image accompanying this blogpost is from a snake that could not lay its eggs and you can see three oval, thin-shelled eggs inside the body of the snake. This snake required a spay surgery which removed the stuck eggs. In case you are wondering, the incision was closed with sutures and covered with medical superglue to waterproof the incision.

This snake spay shows how all types of animals can benefit from this very common surgical procedure. 

Tags: neuter, pet health, pets, snake, spay, Surgery, veterinarian, worldspayday,

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