Side Effects of Early Spay/Neuter

As someone whose career started in the veterinary world, I encountered a lot of breeder bias and rescue mentality. Promoting spay/neuter by 6 months was the norm, and waiting was considered irresponsible. When I started to lean towards breeding and started researching it threw everything I had thought out the window. Little did I know, by promoting these early spay and neuters before our pets had reached sexual maturity may have caused more harm than good, and may be directly related to many common health problems I saw as a vet tech.

 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm also a huge propontent of preventing unwanted litters through surgical sterilization, but there needs to be a balance. However, if we could cut down on the amount of cruiciate injuries and even some malignant cancers by delaying a procedure, we should seriously consider changing policies. As a breeder, we want the longest, happiest life for our puppies. I encourage everyone to research the topic and make their own informed decision.

An alternate option to traditional spaying and neutering is an Ovary Sparing Spay or a Vasectomy. This leaves the important hormone producing organs intact while still rendering a dog unable to reproduce.

 

 

The list of statistics below are taken directly from: http://www.2ndchance.info/cruciatelongtermneuter.htm

 

On the positive side, neutering male dogs

• eliminates the small risk (probably <1%) of dying from testicular cancer (curable through neutering before metastisis)
• reduces the risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders
• reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
• may possibly reduce the risk of diabetes (data inconclusive)

 

 

 

 

On the negative side, neutering male dogs

• if done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a
common cancer in medium/large and larger breeds with a poor prognosis.
• increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 1.6
• triples the risk of hypothyroidism
• increases the risk of progressive geriatric cognitive impairment
• triples the risk of obesity, a common health problem in dogs with many associated health problems
• quadruples the small risk (<0.6%) of prostate cancer
• doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract cancers
• increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
• increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

On the positive side, spaying female dogs

• if done before 2.5 years of age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors, the most common malignant tumors in female dogs
• nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, which otherwise would affect about 23% of intact female dogs; pyometra kills about 1% of intact female dogs
• reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
• removes the very small risk (0.5%) from uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors

 

On the negative side, spaying female dogs

• if done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a common cancer in larger breeds with a poor prognosis
• increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 2.2 and cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of >5; this is a common cancer and major cause of death in some breeds
• triples the risk of hypothyroidism
• increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6-2, a common health problem in dogs with many associated health problems
• causes urinary “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of female dogs
• increases the risk of persistent or recurring urinary tract infections by a factor of 3-4
• increases the risk of recessed vulva, vaginal dermatitis, and vaginitis, especially for female dogsspayed before puberty
• doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract tumors
• increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
• increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

Some more great articles:

"Spaying and Neutering: New Warnings About Health Problems" http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2015/02/03/spaying-and-neutering-new-warnings-about-health-problems/

 

"Dr. Becker: The Truth About Spaying and Neutering" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enPCZA1WFKY

       *This is a REALLY great video of a vet who essentially apologizes for pushing early spay & neuter and causing adverse effects to her patients. It's about 25 minutes but well worth the listen

"Early Spay-Neuter in the Canine Athlete" http://www.thedogplace.org/spay-neuter/considerations-canine-athelete_zink.asp

 

*Long term effects, which clearly outlines the pros/cons- http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf 

 

*Considerations, including increase in fears, sound sensitivity, and aggression- http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/earlyspayconsiderations.pdf 

 

*Concerning aggression and fearful dogs- https://www.doglistener.co.uk/neutering/spaying_neutering.shtml 

 

*Behavior and physical affects, which shows the correlation between neutering and increased aggression- http://www.atftc.com/health/SNBehaviorBoneDataSnapShot.pdf 

 

*Increase in bone cancer- http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/11/11/1434.full 

 

*Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0055937 

 

*Effects of ovariohysterectomy on reactivity in German Shepherd dogs

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S109002330500064X 

 

*Goldens more at risk than Labs

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0102241 

The easy to understand version http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/Sterilization-Effects-Worse-for-Golden-Retrievers-Than-Labs/ 

 

*Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24432963 

The Vizsla study involved 2,505 dogs, and reported these results:

• Dogs neutered or spayed at any age were at significantly increased risk for developing mast cell cancer, lymphoma, all other cancers, all cancers combined, and fear of storms, compared with intact dogs.

• Females spayed at 12 months or younger, and both genders neutered or spayed at over 12 months had significantly increased odds of developing hemangiosarcoma, compared with intact dogs.

• Dogs of both genders neutered or spayed at 6 months or younger had significantly increased odds of developing a behavioral disorder, including separation anxiety, noise phobia, timidity, excitability, submissive urination, aggression, hyperactivity, and/or fear biting. When it came to thunderstorm phobia, all neutered or spayed Vizslas were at greater risk than intact Vizslas, regardless of age at neutering.

• The younger the age at neutering, the earlier the age at diagnosis with mast cell cancer, cancers other than mast cell, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, all cancers combined, a behavioral disorder, or fear of storms.

• Compared to intact dogs, neutered and spayed dogs had a 3.5 times higher risk of developing mast cell cancer, regardless of what age they were neutered.

• Spayed females had nine times higher incidence of hemangiosarcoma compared to intact females, regardless of when spaying was performed, however, no difference in incidence of this type of cancer was found for neutered vs. intact males.

• Neutered and spayed dogs had 4.3 times higher incidence of lymphoma (lymphosarcoma), regardless of age at time of neutering.

• Neutered and spayed dogs had five times higher incidence of other types of cancer, regardless of age of neutering.

Spayed females had 6.5 times higher incidence of all cancers combined compared to intact females, and neutered males had 3.6 times higher incidence than intact males.

 

*OSS (ovary sparing spay)

>16 minute video link of actual surgery, don't watch if squeamish! https://www.parsemusfoundation.org/projects/ovary-sparing-spray/ 

 

http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf 

 

http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/spay_neuter_considerations_2013.pdf 

 

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/16_2/features/spaying-or-neutering_20685-1.html?pg=2 

 

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055937 

 

http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/vizsla_javma_study.pdf 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11439769/ 

 

http://saova.org/articles/Early%20SN%20and%20Behavior.pdf 

 

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0102241 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22647210/