Benefits and risks of neutering pets – what is the evidence – Surgical options

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Surgical options

Published 27 November 2020 | Updated 16 December 2022

Once the decision to neuter has been made there are still decisions to be taken regarding the most appropriate technique.

  • Tivers, M.S. (2005) Questionnaire study of canine neutering techniques taught in UK veterinary schools and those used in practice. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 46 (9), pp. 430-435
  • DeTora, M. and McCarthy, R.J. (2011) Ovariohysterectomy versus ovariectomy for elective sterilization of female dogs and cats: is removal of the uterus necessary? Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 239 (11), pp. 1409-1412
  • Van Goethem, B., Schaefers‐Okkens, A. and Kirpensteijn, J. (2006) Making a rational choice between ovariectomy and ovariohysterectomy in the dog: a discussion of the benefits of either technique. Veterinary Surgery, 35 (2), pp. 136-143
  • Culp, W.T., Mayhew, P.D. and Brown, D.C. (2009) The effect of laparoscopic versus open ovariectomy on postsurgical activity in small dogs. Veterinary Surgery, 38 (7), pp. 811-817

When deciding on a surgical technique, it is also important to consider the possible risks and complications, as these can have a significant effect on animal welfare, client satisfaction and the wellbeing of veterinary staff.

Alongside primary published evidence there are also a number of evidence reviews available relating different surgical options:

  • Pennington, C. (2020) In female dogs undergoing elective neutering is ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy superior? Veterinary Evidence, 5 (2), 303
  • Phypers, C. (2017) In Cats and Dogs Does Laparoscopic Ovariectomy Offer Advantages Over Open Ovariectomy for Postoperative Recovery? Veterinary Evidence, 2 (2), 59
  • Candetoft, M.N. (2020) The incidence of uterine pathology in ovariectomised bitches.
    Veterinary Evidence, 5 (3), 331
  • Stavisky, J. and Brennan, M. (2020) Midline versus flank approach and wound complications in neutering of cats. [BestBETs for Vets][online] Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2020]
  • Doit, H. and Belshaw, Z. (2019) Laparoscopic vs conventional midline approach for dog spays and post-op activity. [BestBETs for Vets][online] Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2020]

As well as looking at complication rates in the published literature it may be helpful to carry out a clinical audit of complications following routine neutering in your own practice. You can benchmark your own practice by contributing to the National Audit for Small Animal Neutering

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