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lrayburn

Spay/Neuter Health Implications

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I found this article on msnbc. I've always been (and continue to be) an advocate for making spay/neuter easy, affordable and accessible. I would be an advocate of spay/neuter legislation if it could be done in a way that didn't negatively impact responsible breeders but I realize that is probably difficult to impossible. (Trying to legislate doing the right thing rarely works.) Doing rescue, I understand that young pups and kittens need to be neutered before they are adopted out but I don't neuter my own animals until 6-12 months.

 

Does anyone have any scientific articles on the health risks of sterilization?

article

 

ETA: I can't seem to make the link work. The article is at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24597888/

 

Lisa

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Here is an article that deals with just that Long Term Health Effects of Spay/Neuter

 

I've read enough to convince me to wait until 18-24 months until spaying/neutering any dog I may own. I wouldn't try to convince others of that yet as I know that most average pet owners aren't prepared to deal intact animals. But for my own dogs, I'll wait.

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i used to religiously spay and neuter all my dogs, and panic at the idea of in season bitches but.....after doing many many MANY hours of reading and research, i have decided that for myself and my dogs, that whilst i am in the position of being able to responsibly care for entire dogs, i will no longer have them neutered.

but i have never recommended this to any dog owner i have met. most people i meet whilst walking cant even be bothered to pick up their own dogs mess, i'm sure as heck certain that they wont be walking their in season bitch at 2 in the morning on a long line!

i am very lucky with my 2 bitches, brighid only has one season a year each february. squirrel does have 2 seasons, one in august and the other in february, the same time (give or take a week) as brighid.

i spend 2 months of each year with sleep deprivation from stupid o'clock walks, and ban anyone except me from walking the girls/letting them out in the garden at all whilst they are in season. i dont care how trust worthy people are, if it is only me walking them in the middle of the night and doing potty breaks and games in the garden, then i know 100% that no dog came near.

but am lucky in as much as no one and i do mean NO ONE walks there dog around here after dark, my garden cannot be accessed from anywhere except my back door.

i cant give any one particular reason as to why it leaves me so uneasy, after all things like incontinence can be treated. but i cant get over the feeling that cutting bits out in case of disease isnt quite right.

i was once taught to listen to gut instinct, and that is what i am doing

from the rescue side of things however, i do understand entirely that it is the best way for stopping the problem.

i know i sound like a hypocrite, but i firmly believe that whilst i am not adding to the problem of unwanted dogs then i can keep my dogs the way i feel is best for them.

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We are responsible pet owners, but do not usually have our male dogs neutered. However, our 6 year old smooth coat BC Zip was recently diagnosed with an enlarged prostate and we had him neutered rather than put him on meds, since we weren't going to breed him anyway. I'm sure neutering was harder on a dog his age than if we had done it when he was 1 and 1/2 or 2 years old.

Barb S

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Lisa, thanks for sharing that article. Molly was incompletely spayed her first time around and had many UTI after it. She when back just short a year to get her "third" (that's what they claimed) ovary removed and is constantly at herself now. I've always felt guilty about it.

 

The bit about hyperthyroidism and obesity really stands out to me for Mickey. It was very hard to get his weight up when we got him, and for about the past year we have been trying to get him to lose weight, but it's like we are fighting a losing battle. I may have to get him checked out.

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It is good to have a balanced view

I had no choice with Ben but before I got him done all I had seen was the positives - except of course the small risk of surgery

 

One thing I had never heard of till I asked what was going on with my boy

Some males when neutered give off the smell of a bitch in heat

 

so for the rest of Bens life he will now have to put up with male dogs trying to hump him - and that is the one and only time he shows his teeth and snaps at another dog (and its deff not a dom thing, when sniffing him the dogs are drooling and teeth chittering)

 

I would not have not got him done but it would have been nice to know that there were downsides too

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Well over the past 40 years my family has had all our 17 dogs and bitches spayed and neutered and on the whole there have been very few health problems.

Most of them have lived to between 14 and 17 years with virtually zero incontinence or weight problems. There has been a couple of cruciate repairs due to a straighter than normal stifle on one dog.

 

My last 2 bitches I have spayed at 11 months old but all the rest were at 6 months. I look around for a vet I really trust to do the spaying because there can be problems if they are done carelessly.

 

A couple of people I know have been caught with unplanned pregnancies from determined doggies driven on by their hormones. One un neutered BC I knew could scale massive fences and was relentless and obsessive about finding a way to escape when he caught the scent of a bitch on heat! It must have been very frustrating for him.

 

 

My own personal thoughts are that it is unfair to the dog to keep them unsterilised if they are not being used for breeding and no doubt others will have their own opinion on this!

 

 

My mum rescued and older breeding bitch and she gets her checked annualy for breast cancer as this risk is significantly higher in bitches spayed later.

 

I have read a number of the articles and must say none have them have convinced me not to continue to sterilise my dogs. I like a time frame of 10 -12 months old. The only exception would be if I had a bitch puppy that was showing signs of incontinence before she was spayed. I would wait till after her first heat in this case.

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I have read a number of the articles and must say none have them have convinced me not to continue to sterilise my dogs. I like a time frame of 10 -12 months old. The only exception would be if I had a bitch puppy that was showing signs of incontinence before she was spayed. I would wait till after her first heat in this case.

 

I agree. I think the pediatric spay/neuters are more the issue than the usual 6 - 12 month old ones. If I ever get another female, she will be spayed at 6 months and I'll be happy to know I've cut down some significant cancer risks. My males I wait until about a year.

 

I think the important thing is to be open to what both sides of the argument have to say, then to make the choice you feel is right for you and your dog.

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I think the important thing is to be open to what both sides of the argument have to say, then to make the choice you feel is right for you and your dog.

I agree. But because JJ & Jake were both adopted thru a rescue service, they were already neutered when we adopted them which was fine with us. At this point in my/our life, I feel we will spay/neutered all of our pets asap. Even though I feel we are responsible pet owners, I don't trust our 4' fence or the other pet owners in our subdivision.

 

And as far as the obsity.....Well, I use to believe that until I was 'spayed'. I thought weight gain after my hysterectomy was the norm until I decided I wasn't going to settle for it. And just like me, JJ lost weight when I changed his diet. Jake has been on the same diet as JJ and he's never been overweight in the 2 yrs we've had him.

 

JJ & Jake both have taught me neutering does not cause weight gain. A bad diet and lack of exercise does. (JJ still gets the same amount of exercise he did before his diet change but because I was able to take him off his allergy medicine due to his diet change, he has a lot more energy.)

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We don't routinely spay in Europe and I had two get mammary cancer and the last pyometra. I think leaving females intact is a risk. I do think that responsible owners can wait to spay until the pups are older...but I'm not sure it's an option rescue can afford.

 

My males have all been neutered late. I have an intact 5 year old that has never been bred (and never will) and in intact 1 year old who will also never be bred. The first time they're put under for whatever (the older needs a dental) then I'll have him neutered. Same goes for the younger one. I've NEVER had any behavioral issues with unneutered males, even with multiples in the house. My spayed femals are far more bitchy.

 

Maria

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I think leaving females intact is a risk. I do think that responsible owners can wait to spay until the pups are older...but I'm not sure it's an option rescue can afford.

 

I don't think it's a risk rescues want to take generally, which I completely understand and like Brenda I'd be ok with adopting a dog who had been neutered or spayed earlier than I might choose. I also think the females are more at risk than males being intact and as far as mammary cancer, the safest approach is to spay before the first heat. I've read that waiting until after the first heat lowers the protection significantly and waiting until after the 2nd heat or longer produces little difference in cancer rates. Of course, the dog would be protected against pyometra which sounds so scary.

 

JJ & Jake both have taught me neutering does not cause weight gain. A bad diet and lack of exercise does.

 

Exactly. I do think neutering can affect the metabolism, but that doesn't mean the dog is doomed to becoming fat. All my dogs have been neutered/spayed and all have been at excellent weights. I have friends who act helpless about their dogs' weight. If they're willing to admit the dog is too heavy, they refuse to believe they can change that fact. I have one friend, a nurse no less, who insists her overweight dog with hip dysplasia and a heart murmur couldn't possibly eat one teaspoon less. When I point out that obviously the dog must be getting more calories than it needs, I'm given a dirty look. Same thing when I try to offer ways to increase exercise.

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I've appreciated everyone's experiences and input. Although I didn't expect to change my mind on spay/neuter in regards to rescues, shelters and the general public, I do want to understand both sides of the equation and the possible impacts of each decision.

Thanks again,

Lisa

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The argument that there is NO health benifit to waiting until a dog/bitch is sexually mature is one of the biggest lies in Vet Med, Animal rescue, & Animal rights community. There are many health benifits related to sex hormone & grouth. M. Christine Zink, DVM, PhD. DACVP gives very good talks on the subject (go to http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHea...euterinDogs.pdf for some more info).

First, it has been proven that dogs/bitchs neutered/spayed at before they are sexualy mature joint plate stay open longer. This does not simply result in a tall narrow chested dog, but changes the angles in the legs which most orthopedic vets, holistic vets, or vet that do physical tharopy, will tell you that in increases the risk of dysplasia's & the ever more common ruptured ACL. Male hormones help with muscle developent (which is why so many human sport athletes take them) which protect joints/tendons/ligaments. Ask an equine vet and they will tell you hormons effect bone density, and it is wildly known that bitchs with vaginitis issues have a marked increase in incontincence issues if spayed before there first heat cycle.

In Short-

Early Neutering of Males (per Christine Zink DVM) Early Spaying of Females

Beneficial Harmful Beneficial Harmful

Less Testicular Cancer More Orthopedic problems Less mammary cancer More Orthopedic problems

Less prostate infections More hemangiosarcoma Less pyometra More hemangiosarcoma

Less perianal Fistula More bone cancer Less perianal fistulas More bone cancer

More prostate cancer Less reproductive organ cancer More urinary tract infections

Moreurinary incontinence More urinary incontincence

More hypothyriodism More vaginal dermatitis

More infectious diseases More hypothyroidism

More adverse vaccine reasctions More infectious diseases

More geriactric cognitive impairment More adverse baccine reactions

More urinary tract cancer More urinary tract cancer

More obesity More obesity

More complications form surgery More complicatins from surgery

There are too many unwanted pets and yes early spay/neutering is a key part of that fight, but as a Vet Tech I get more then a little frustrated with the "white lie" of "NO heath benifits" to not/late spay/neutering. I was told in vet tech school & at my job (when ever I'm told to "sell something like vac, HWP, blood testing, etc) "it's not about making money - it's about educating so the cleint can make their own decision" - exept when it comes to spay/neutering pets. It is only a little lie until spay/neuter laws get passed, but I clearly have no strong opinion.

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The increase in cruciate ligament rupture has not been absoultely proven as a direct result of neutering, it has been put forward as a possible reason. Sterilised dogs are often heavier which also contributes.

 

Certainly at my dog club the cruciate problems have been more common in unsterilised animals and is due to the conformation problems several of these rottweillers have with straight stifles. I know an orthapeadic vet who says a lot of it has to do with a combination of weight and conformation and unsound breeding practises.

 

The only dog I have at a cruciate rupture with has been directly a result of poor conformation and not related to sterilisation. The soundest bitch I ever had was a working bred animal spayed early and she was compact with beautiful angles and came from an excellent breeder.

 

The unsoundest bitch I ever had was a late spay (14 months) with dysplasia and this was a result of poor breeding practises and no screening for hips and elbows with her unsterilised brother having both hip and elbow dysplasia.

 

I think it is good to see all sides of the picture but articles often reflect one opinion and interpretation of what are often surveys and trends looking at one variable rather than scientific experiments to determine what is the actual cause. There are a number of variables that some of these orthapeadic problems can be separated out on including genetics, weight, conformation, breed of dog, age of spay etc. Which is the most significant?

 

I have a number of vets who are friends and a couple are orthapeadic specialists and they have had no hesitation in sterilising their dogs at 6 months. I also compete in agility where many dogs are sterilised but very lean and fit and the occurence of cruciate injuries are very low.

 

I actually dont think it is ureasonable to wait till a dog is 12 months to sterilise them but so many of the population have difficulty with managing bitches on heat and the fall out from unsterilised animals is devastating. So many dumped and dying unwanted in shelters etc.

 

The risk of mammary cancer is 1% in a bitch spayed before her first heat, 8% in a bitch who has had her first heat and 25% for a bitch who has had 3 or 4 heats or more. 25% is a pretty high risk to my way of thinking.

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I aggree with 75% of your email and am sorry if it sounded like I thought hormones can make up for poor genetics obviously they can not. My argument was not that people should NOT spay/neuter young it was that it is wrong to clam there are NO benifits to waiting. There are important Pros & Cons on both side, but people need to be informed and be able to make their own choices.

 

However, similar to your reaction to my statement about ACL, the studies I've looked at on mammary tumers in bitches pay very little attention to enviroment or genetics which maybe why I know so many breeders who have been breeding dogs for 20-40+yrs who have never had a single bitch end up with that type of cancer.

 

All else said Pyo's are nasty and the last estamate I had to get up for a client (refurral to an E-Clinic) was over $3,000.

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I aggree with 75% of your email and am sorry if it sounded like I thought hormones can make up for poor genetics obviously they can not. My argument was not that people should NOT spay/neuter young it was that it is wrong to clam there are NO benifits to waiting. There are important Pros & Cons on both side, but people need to be informed and be able to make their own choices.

 

However, similar to your reaction to my statement about ACL, the studies I've looked at on mammary tumers in bitches pay very little attention to enviroment or genetics which maybe why I know so many breeders who have been breeding dogs for 20-40+yrs who have never had a single bitch end up with that type of cancer.

 

All else said Pyo's are nasty and the last estamate I had to get up for a client (refurral to an E-Clinic) was over $3,000.

 

So I guess it is pretty hard to determine what causes what with all the conditions. Human cancers are also driven by genetics, environment, diet, ethnicity and all sorts of factors that make it hard to sort things out. We are always hearing about risk factors which seem to be continually changing, updating etc.

 

In the end I agree it comes down to what you feel comfortable with and your own personal interpretation of the evidence as to its scientific rigour and design and personal experience. Vets like doctors also seem to have differing views from each other on some of these things.

 

To me it is very unclear as to the real pros and cons of the situation so I tend to look at it from the point of view that the average person is probably better of neutering between 6 and 12 monhs and rescue should not let unsterilised animals back into the general population because people often to not uphold spay/neuter contracts.

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"rescue should not let unsterilised animals back into the general population because people often to not uphold spay/neuter contracts."

This is one of the parts I agree with - Rescue & Shelters have to make the most of a bad situeation that "they" had no part in creating. What set me off the most on this topic was the mention of spay/neuter laws, which are a bad idea for so many reason & my frustration with so many vet I know who will (behind closed door) admit there are some benifits to waiting, but further this growing notion in the general community that this debate is over.

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"What set me off the most on this topic was the mention of spay/neuter laws, which are a bad idea for so many reason & my frustration with so many vet I know who will (behind closed door) admit there are some benifits to waiting, but further this growing notion in the general community that this debate is over.

 

Margaret,

That's actually why I started this thread. I had never heard anything negative about the health implications of spay/neuter and wanted to educate myself further. I used the msnbc article as a starting point and was hoping that people here would be able to provide more information.

 

I've found this discussion very informative and I thank everyone for their input.

Lisa

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"rescue should not let unsterilised animals back into the general population because people often to not uphold spay/neuter contracts."

This is one of the parts I agree with - Rescue & Shelters have to make the most of a bad situeation that "they" had no part in creating. What set me off the most on this topic was the mention of spay/neuter laws, which are a bad idea for so many reason & my frustration with so many vet I know who will (behind closed door) admit there are some benifits to waiting, but further this growing notion in the general community that this debate is over.

 

 

I think the two though work from different aspects of the situation. Obviously rescue organizations and many county control facilities will put animal overpopulation before any side effects to early spay/neuter. And it's understandable because the reality they're living is one of dealing with all of the unwanted that are derived from irresponsibility. Thus the supporting of a spay/neuter policy.

 

On the other hand, responsible owners benefit from waiting until the animal is mature. Personally, after the two girls with mammary cancer, I'll alwyas spay a female before her first heat but will wait as long as possible...she's not going in at 4 months or younger. Males I wait longer and have no problem dealing with their manly behaviors.

 

So it's looking at the issue from opposite sides, you can't really say that rescues don't understand the benefit of spaying or neutering later...they just can't afford that option and will support policies that may/should/hopefully will reduce the number of animals being put to sleep just because they're one too many.

 

Maria

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