Keyhole Surgeries – Pets Can Have Them Too

Keyhole surgery is now routine for human surgeries and vets are catching up too. We talk to Dr. Dave about the wonders of Keyhole for pets.


Keyhole surgery or laparoscopy has been in use for many surgeries in humans since the 1990’s. It has gone from being only available for highly trained specialists to being easily accessible for all routine surgeries. Nowadays you can pop into hospital, have your gall bladder removed and be up out of bed the same day. What would have taken 6 weeks to recover from has been reduced to a much less traumatic procedure.

The veterinary industry is now catching up with this trend, but still there are only a few practices that have invested in the fancy equipment needed to perform these surgeries safely.

At our Love That Pet campuses in Sydney, keyhole surgeries are now routine, particularly when desexing female dogs. Dr Dave, who invested in the technology and has completed some vigorous training to use it safely is a huge fan of the faster recoveries after Keyhole procedures. A recent published article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reports significantly better pain scores in female dogs desexed using laparoscopic techniques versus the traditional method. Dr Dave reports that he often has trouble getting his patients to rest after the surgery, with many of his clients sheepishly confessing that their puppies were so happy that they were running around chasing a ball at the park the next day.

So what are the benefits of keyhole surgery?

  • Quicker recovery times.
  • Less pain.
  • Same surgical time but a tiny incision.
  • Not so much of the tugging and pulling on internal structures.

What is keyhole surgery?
The reason this procedure is called keyhole surgery is because just one tiny incision is made, through which a camera and instruments are inserted. So instead of making a 3-10cm incision in the abdomen, a small hole is made near the belly-button.

In a traditional spey or desexing procedure both the ovaries and uterus are removed, which essentially means your dog has an ovariohysterectomy. This is actually a much bigger surgery that involves tugging on vital ligaments and the risk of bleeding from vital blood vessels. in fact many new graduate vets really do dread this surgery, as even though it is routine, it can be a little tricky to perform with the traditional method.

In Europe it is now more common to just remove the ovaries, which removes the source of those pesky hormones that lead to mammary carcinomas, pyometras and of course cause your dog to come on heat and be able to have babies. There is technically no reason to actually remove the uterus as well. In the keyhole method of surgery, this is exactly what happens, so there is actually less stretching, tearing and cutting.

If you want to know more about this procedure, there is more information available here. Ask your vet if they do keyhole surgeries too.