Advancements in veterinary medicine have paved the way for safer and more efficient procedures. Laparoscopic surgery (also known as “minimally invasive” surgery), has become increasingly popular among veterinarians and pet owners alike due to its numerous benefits.

Santa Ynez Pet Hospital is proud to be the only general practice in Santa Barbara County currently offering laparoscopy!

A few laparoscopic procedures that we offer, include:

  • Laparoscopic Ovariectomy (OVE) – Also called “LOVE” Spays
  • Cryptorchid neuters – These undescended testicles can easily be isolated and removed using a laparoscope
  • Laparoscopic assisted gastropexy – Also known as “tacking the stomach” in large and deep chested breeds
  • Laparoscopic exploratory surgery – a minimally invasive way to look inside the abdomen and collect biopsy samples if necessary

While we offer these procedures (and more), this article is focused on LOVE Spays. Here are a few advantages of this procedure over traditional spays:

Smaller Incisions, Minimal Internal Trauma, Significantly Less Discomfort

Unlike traditional spays which require a larger abdominal incision (typically 2″-5”), laparoscopic spays involve tiny incisions (about 3/16”-3/8”) through which specialized instruments are inserted. The abdominal organs can then be visualized under magnification and special technology is used to cauterize tissues as they are cut. In contrast, during a traditional spay procedure, the ovaries are freed from the abdominal wall by tearing their ligamentous attachments which causes increased pain. LOVE Spays result in less tissue trauma, reduced pain, and faster healing times for dogs. According to a 2005 study in the Journal of Veterinary Surgery, dogs undergoing LOVE Spays experience a 65% reduction in postoperative discomfort. This means a happier and more active dog!

Reduced Risk of Complications

Laparoscopic spays are associated with a lower risk of complications compared to open spays. The smaller incisions are less prone to infection, dehiscence, internal adhesions, and herniation. Additionally, because laparoscopic procedures offer a clearer view of the internal organs, veterinarians can more accurately assess and address any potential issues during surgery, further reducing the risk of complications.

Quicker Recovery

One of the main benefits of LOVE Spays is that dogs experience a much shorter recovery time. Since the procedure is less invasive, dogs often require less pain medication and have a reduced need for postoperative care. Many dogs are up and moving around within an hour after the surgery and can resume their regular activities within 3 days (running, agility, fetch, etc!). This quicker recovery is not only more comfortable for the young and active dog, but also more convenient for the pet owner. The incisions will still need to be kept clean and dry for at least 10 days (so no swimming!)

Improved Cosmetic Outcome

LOVE Spays result in smaller and less noticeable scars than traditional spays. This cosmetic benefit is appreciated by many pet owners who prefer a more aesthetically pleasing outcome. The smaller incisions are especially beneficial for dogs with shorter coats. There is typically no external suture used, so there is no need to return for a suture removal!

Enhanced Precision

The laparoscopic approach allows veterinarians to perform spays with enhanced precision. The magnified view provided by the laparoscope enables more accurate removal of the ovaries, reducing the risk of incomplete surgery. This precision is especially valuable for diagnosing dogs with anatomical variations or underlying pathology. If this is ever the case, the surgery can easily be converted to a traditional open approach in less than a minute.


Laparoscopic spays offer numerous benefits for dogs and their owners. While not all dogs may be candidates for laparoscopic spays, it’s worth discussing this option with your veterinarian to determine if it’s the right choice for you. Ultimately, the well-being and comfort of your beloved dog is our number one priority. Give us a call or set up an appointment to learn more!