I saw a sentence in a deleted answer, and it started me to think:

In Europe they don’t spay and neuter. They tie tubes and do vasectomies on pets.

For me each kind of "surgery" to avoid offsprings is neutering/spaying (maybe because I am not native english)

So, what exactly are this terms about and would "tie tubes" and "vasectomie" be included, or get another term?

Also related: pets.SE: spaying rabbits at age around 12 weeks

  • I always assumed neutering involved... removing the testicles from the animal surgically. And well, its generally 'obvious' that its been done on a male dog
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 14:23
  • If this is the official meaning, then I maybe need to edit some of my answers... Because I used it also for "cut the sperm-tubes" without removement... Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 15:44
  • 1
    I don't think this is true, to my knowledge most European vets will spay and neuter. They may do ovariectomies instead of ovariohysterectomies, but it's still a spay.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


Many native speakers are probably also confused about what all the terms mean, and so use them incorrectly or just use the umbrella term "getting the animal fixed." But it is true that spay, neuter, tube tying (formally known as tubal ligation), and vasectomy are all different operations.

Spay and neuter

Spaying and neutering are the most common operations in many places, if not most. These operations involve surgically removing the reproductive organs entirely. They are called different things because of course the male and female reproductive organs are completely different, so the operations for male and female animals are completely different. Neuter is the male version of the operation, and spay is the female version.

Vasectomy and tubal ligation

With vasectomies and tubal ligations, the organs are spared, and instead the reproductive pathways are surgically disrupted. Similar to spay and neuter, vasectomy is the male version of this operation and tubal ligation is the female version.

Pros and cons

With spay and neuter, since the organs are removed entirely, there is no possible mistake that will make the animals still able to reproduce. The organs also cannot possibly become diseased, so things like cancers or pyometra are completely avoided. Also, when the reproductive organs are removed, the animal no longer produces the sex hormones, which may reduce sexual behaviors which most owners find undesirable. However, the lack of sex hormones may also have negative effects on the animal's health, which is the main argument for doing a vasectomy or tubal ligation instead.

Other types of "fixing"

There are two other types of procedures I'm aware that are a type of fixing:

  1. Hormone-sparing spay.

The standard spay is more technically called an ovariohysterectomy. This means both the ovaries (the female sex organs) and the uterus (the womb) are removed. However, it is possible to perform just a hysterectomy, which is a removal of the uterus only, leaving the hormone producing organs. With this type of spay, the animal will still not be able to reproduce.

  1. Non-surgical sterilization.

Non-surgical sterilization is available to male animals only. Instead of operating on the animal, a chemical is injected to damage the reproductive organs. In at least some versions of this procedure, it does not completely destroy the sex organs, so the pet will still have some of its sex hormones. The downside is it's fairly likely to not be effective, and the pet still might be able to reproduce.

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