Everyone uses the term “spay” when they are getting their dog “fixed” so she can’t have puppies. But do you know what an actual “spay” is and how we do it, and why it is called a “spay”? Well we are here to answer all of these questions!

The origin of the word “spay”, according to Dictionary.com is from the “Middle English spaien , from Anglo-Norman espeier , to cut with a sword , from espee , sword , from Latin spatha ; see ‘spathe’ “. So to “spay” means “to cut”. But what are we cutting? When we do a spay, we are removing the ovaries and the uterus from the dog or cat. So we are doing what would be a called an ovariohysterectomy. The same surgery is done often in women for various reasons as well. The way we do this is by making an incision on your pet’s belly that is long enough for us to open up and get inside her abdomen and be able to reach the ovaries as well as the entire uterus. The uterus is shaped like the letter “Y” and at the top of each point on the “Y” is where the ovaries are. So all of this “Y”, including the ovaries, is removed when we do the surgery. This is a major surgical procedure, just as it is in women. It is done under complete anesthesia, in our surgical room under sterile surgical conditions. Once the uterus is removed and the incision is closed, your pet is allowed to recover at our hospital overnight. You wouldn’t want to be sent home right after you had your belly completely opened up! This allows your pet to get a good night of rest, we can check her incision in the morning, make sure she is not licking, and keep her from doing any strenuous activity, like jumping around, immediately after her surgery.

So, now you know what a “spay” really is! Go out and share your knowledge! The next time you hear someone say, my dog is getting “spayed”, you can tell them why it’s called a spay, what it really is, and how it is done and you will impress your friends and family!

  1. July 7, 2010

    Keep up all the good work & care…..

  2. October 7, 2022

    Thanks for explaining the etymology of the word ‘spay’. The word really reflects how radical and serious the surgery is in contrast to male neutering.

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