Which spay is best?

(Q) A veterinary surgery in my area offers keyhole spaying. It is more expensive than the traditional method, but there seems to be a huge difference in the recovery period, as only the ovaries are removed. There is little infection risk, no internal stitches, and no need to keep a puppy indoors for too long.

My mother-in-law had a horrid time after her Cocker Spaniel underwent a traditional spay, so I wondered if keyhole might be a good idea for my puppy, Bindi?

(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: Ovariohysterectomy (removal of the womb and ovaries) is the traditional method of spaying a bitch. It is generally done through a mid-line incision on the stomach.

Ovariectomy, or ovary removal, is technically easier, although it does still require internal ligatures. It is just as effective in preventing pregnancy and reducing the risk of breast cancer, although pyometra (womb infection) can still occur. 

The wound may be slightly smaller following an ovariectomy, and consequently recovery time may be - but isn't always - faster.

Most vets will have been trained to perform an ovariohysterectomy, and so will have far more experience of doing this procedure. However, some vets do routinely perform ovariectomies.

I suggest that you go for the procedure that is recommended by your local veterinary surgery. Surgeons are safest when performing the procedure they are most familiar with, and recovery times are generally minimised in such situations.

Travelling a long distance for a different procedure would be inadvisable. Most dogs recover rapidly from spay operations, so I would have no anxiety about having a normal spay.