The Impressive Yet Underestimated Dog Spay

A Surgery That Deserves Respect

Yet for all its potential trickiness and its formidable learning curve, the spay remains the one procedure pet owners most often toss off in conversation… as if it involves little more than a “tying of tubes.” It’s also the one most likely to earn us complaints whenever we try to increase its price tag.

Indeed, so underrated is the spay that, on the menu of veterinary items, even castration seems to garner more respect.

What’s up with that?

This misconception has perhaps less to do with the fact that people don’t know their anatomy than with the widespread notion that a spay is an undemanding procedure every dog should undergo and, as such, that it must be easy to do if it’s so commonly performed.

Which, in a sense, argues that we veterinarians — the procedure’s champions — have been largely responsible for any lack of respect afforded it. I mean, why else would we call it a “spay” instead of an "ovariohysterectomy" if we didn’t want people to think it was something straightforward every female dog should have?

While it’s true that the widespread campaign to see all our dogs sterilized might’ve had an inadvertently "dumbing down" effect on our cultural conception of the spay, I’ll argue we’re now all grown-up enough to see the procedure for what it is: a highly effective tool for treating and preventing female reproductive diseases and a means of achieving population control, to boot… yet a procedure which is, nonetheless, not without its risks.

As such, I’ll argue that the spay should be considered more respectfully in our culture. It should be treated neither like a surgical “add-on” nor a “price-cut” procedure. Operations this substantial and valuable don’t deserve to be emasculated for the purposes of mass consumption — even if what’s at stake is something as significant as pet overpopulation.

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