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Gloria Atwater
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Greetings all ~

 

This is not about one of our BCs, so I hope folks will forgive me, but it does involve a working breed. :) Last week we got our 9 month old Aussie girl, Ash, spayed. Unfortunately, I was not attentive enough and she succeeded in breaking two or three stitches and today she's back at the vet's getting patched up. I feel absolutely awful, so feel free to hurl your imprecations at me.

 

But first, I've some questions. We got my Gael spayed at the same vet hospital last year, the same outfit we've been using for over a decade. At the time of Gael's procedure, it had been more than 10 years since we had a bitch spayed, so we were very happily surprised when Gael came home with this wee, tidy little incision that was probably not even 3 inches long. Wow, we thought, veterinary medicine has made great strides over the years. Gone are the days of those long, ugly Frankenstein-ian incisions! :) Gael healed up in short order, no problems, and everyone was happy.

 

Thus, we took Ash in with little thought of the matter ... and were dismayed when we got her back with, once again, the old-fashioned Frankenstein incision. Even more, she was miserable once we got her home. Yes, she is definitely a more pain-sensitive dog, so that bears knowing. But it was hard to watch her lie there in a lump, unmoving and unhappy for those first two days. She got better by the third and fourth days, but even then, sometimes she'd flinch and leap up with a yelp, scuttling off to find a new hiding place from her discomfort. We asked the vet about that, but they said, Oh, she's sensitive, just continue her meds. But hubby and I were not happy. Why was Ash's surgical site twice as long as Gael's had been? What changed?

 

Well, for one, the older vet we used to have has left the practice, replaced by a much younger vet. We've dealt with her on minor things, and she's been great, but hubby and I were startled by the difference between this surgery and the same one done last year by the other vet.

 

I DO own my responsibility in Ash breaking her stitches (she wears an inflatable "innertube" collar, now) but I can't help thinking ... this spay had to be more invasive than Gael's. Even given that Ash is a more pain-sensitive dog, how much of her discomfort was due to a different surgical technique?

 

So, I'm here to ask, is there really such a difference in spaying technique? Do some vets do those tidy little orthoscopic-type spays, and others do the old-fashioned, longer-incision kind?

 

I know I sound like a whiny brat, and Ash's current misfortune is entirely my fault. But this has been upsetting and I'm really glad I've no plans to get another female dog for a very long time. And though it's not fair to the bright young vets out there, it makes me think I'll look for a vet with more gray in their hair, the next time I need something spayed. :(

 

*sighh* So. What do you folks have to say on the matter of different (or not) types of spays? Am I imagining things, or is there something to the appearances I've noted?

Respectfully submitted,

 

Gloria

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Gloria,

The longer incision may simply be something that will change as the newer vet gains mileage doing spays. I remember the vet I used to work for would spay through a tiny incision (like an inch). When he hired someone into his practice, she was relatively fresh out of vet school and made longer incisions. She took longer to do surgeries as well. Like anything, practice makes perfect, and by the time the new vet has done hundreds of spays, you'll probably find that she, too, can do them through a tiny incision. Look at it this way: better to have a longer incision and be sure the vet got what she was supposed to get as easily as possible, than a smaller incision with unnecessary digging around trying to find the parts needing removal because she couldn't see what she was doing.

 

As for grey hair, don't forget the old chestnut "Familiarity breeds contempt." It's possible that an older vet will be so set in his/her ways that they will refuse to do things like offer the dog pain control (that was never an option back in the dark ages when I worked for a vet) and may take short cuts that may or may not be beneficial to the animal.

 

These are generalizations, of course, and I think for every advantage you could claim for new vs. old, someone could find a corresponding disadvantage.

 

J.

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I have no input on types of spay since both of my girls came already done, but I did want to say please don't be too hard on yourself for the fact that she broke her stitches. These things happen, even when we do our best to keep them from happening.

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I would say the length of the incision would be directly related to the vet's experience. We have had 5-6 of them at the clinic where I work. The owner makes tiny incision and prides himself on how small he can make one. We've had a couple vets that made incisions easily 2-3 times as long as his ones just because they have less experience, and the bigger the hole is, the more you can see what you're doing.

 

That aside, there are several other reasons for a larger incision. I had a discussion with one of the vets about spays and what ages he liked doing them at (we will do from 8 weeks up). He likes the young ones (less than 5 months), and the mature ones (over a year, have been in heat previously), but doesn't like in between that. He said in a log of dogs, the uterus is less mobile at that stage and therefore to reach the ovaries and the cervix, you have to do a lot of stretching of the tissue, or make a longer incision. An incision can also be longer if the animal is in heat or has recently been in heat, or if they are overweight. The last thing I can think of that can make an incision longer, is if the vet is concerned something may be bleeding and needs to make the incision bigger to look down at the vessels they've tied off.

 

Incisions heal side to side, so no matter what the length is the healing time will be the same. Obviously a longer incision will be more painful and annoying to the dog. When my bitch got spayed, she would not move for 5 days. I think every time she got up, the stitches pulled funny and bothered her so she'd sit back down real quick and then try to chew at them. I literally had to carry her outside, she'd pee and then sit in it, and I'd have to carry her back in. I even tried leaving her outside to see if she'd get up and come in...nope, 10 mins later still sitting in the same spot hanging her head with the cone on.

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Sorry for the delayed reply, but thank you, everyone! It's good to have some factual information, and you've told me pretty much what the vet's office said, when I went back.

 

Thankfully, Ash the Aussie is much better now! They stitched her back up and even added staples for security, so now she *really* looks like the Dog of Frankenstein. :P But interestingly, she's feeling so much better we have to put the squash on her for wanting to play, which must mean the staples aren't a problem! So I'd guess the pulling of the torn stitches were the biggest discomfort, as she barely seems to notice her incision, now.

 

We just have to keep the "inner-tube" collar on her so she won't lick it any more, plus keep her from letting my Nick lick it. She'll actually seek him out and lie down in front of him, so he'll give her tummy a cleaning. *face-palm* Sorry, girly, you're not allowed to have your border collie brother pull your stitches and staples out, either. Sheez.

 

Thanks for your replies, Julie, Christine and BCJetta. You were a great comfort. :)

 

~ Gloria

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We just have to keep the "inner-tube" collar on her so she won't lick it any more, plus keep her from letting my Nick lick it. She'll actually seek him out and lie down in front of him, so he'll give her tummy a cleaning. *face-palm* Sorry, girly, you're not allowed to have your border collie brother pull your stitches and staples out, either. Sheez.

 

 

OMDog They never cease to amaze me! I can just picture her telling her bro to lick that spot...these darn humans won't let me but they aren't stopping you...

to funny!

Glad she is feeling better.

 

We are just getting over Lily's amputee surgery...talk about Frankenstein. the incision is about 13 inches long with at least 30 staples or more. Lil did a great job not bothering her first surgery but this one is taking longer to heal and she is starting to worry the staples. I've taken over half of them out but the few left still need to be there. She has taken to not letting me look at it. She knows I'm gonna do something to it.

 

Poor dear...we're going to take the remaining staples out tomorrow morning if it looks ready. I'll have company so won't be doing this alone. Hard to keep her head turned away, flashlight shining in the right place and removing the staples. I need one more hand! Last night I drugged her and gave her a deer leg. Wasn't enough, she kept bopping me with the deer leg trying to get over my head to stop me from working on it.

EeeGads...if she had a partner in crime I know I'd be in trouble!

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Greetings all ~

 

Thus, we took Ash in with little thought of the matter ... and were dismayed when we got her back with, once again, the old-fashioned Frankenstein incision. Even more, she was miserable once we got her home. Yes, she is definitely a more pain-sensitive dog, so that bears knowing. But it was hard to watch her lie there in a lump, unmoving and unhappy for those first two days. She got better by the third and fourth days, but even then, sometimes she'd flinch and leap up with a yelp, scuttling off to find a new hiding place from her discomfort. We asked the vet about that, but they said, Oh, she's sensitive, just continue her meds. But hubby and I were not happy. Why was Ash's surgical site twice as long as Gael's had been? What changed?

 

Well, for one, the older vet we used to have has left the practice, replaced by a much younger vet. We've dealt with her on minor things, and she's been great, but hubby and I were startled by the difference between this surgery and the same one done last year by the other vet.

 

 

I have a very experienced vet who I love who is a certified laser surgeon. I had my 5 year old Border Collie spayed in the regular fashion several years ago. Her incision was very small - about the same as your first dog's. I just had my young Border Collie spayed and she was also laser spayed, which typically is an even smaller incision. However, it all depends on what the vet finds when they get in there. My youngster's incision was probably 4 or 4 1/2 inches long. Things tend to move around in there, especially if the dog is fully mature and it is even worse sometimes in dogs who have had litters. Sometimes the vet has to enlarge the incision based on what she finds when she get inside. My vet has literally had ovaries up near a bitch's armpits. It may be the inexperience of the vet or it may very well be that some of your girl's equipment had ended up in some hard to reach places. :)

 

Best,

Jen

 

ADCH Enna TM - Silver, MX, MXJ - rescued champion

Ignited's Molten Rush, aka: Lava AD

Rising Sun's Hot to the Touch - aka: Fever - retired due to epilepsy

Flute AAD, AX, OAJ, OAC, OGC, NAJ - retired

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Lol, Kristen, I've never had a dog that wanted to play doctor on another dog's injury! Who'd have thunk an intact male would want to play nanny.

 

Jen, lol, thank you for the added explanation. I never really gave a lot of thought to the logistics of spaying, until this, so this discussion is giving me a bit of education! :) Thanks.

 

Liz, you know, your remark about just-before-a-heat hits a strong note. We got Ash in to be spayed because we feared she would soon come into heat. There were just tiny changes going on that made us suspicious, and at 9 months, she's of age to come into her first heat. So, your point about delicate tissues may have been a consideration the vet had, even though she didn't speak of it.

 

Thanks again, everyone. Knowledge is always comforting. :)

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Interesting thread. Both of my two were spayed in a clinic where there are five vets, all experienced. But only one does the spays, because she has a such a deft touch you would think she was the queen's embroiderer in a previous life. The incisions were practically invisible, kind of turned inward so you couldn't even see any stitches let alone lick them, about 2 inches long, and done with dissolving stitches so there was no removal necessary. Both dogs came home the same day and felt perky the next day. I sing this vet's praises to anyone with a female dog to be spayed. Both of mine were over a year old and not in or near a heat cycle.

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