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Old 02-15-2008, 11:27 AM   #1
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Default Early spay / neuter?

It's been a long time since we've had a discussion on this and since it came up in a similar thread I thought I'd ask. It seems like early spay / neuter (before 6 months) is becoming typical in the US whereas in the UK vets seem to want to wait until the dog is a bit older before doing the operation. I'm curious if this has more to do with any props and cons as far as health risks go, does it have to do with the shelter overpopulation? Or is it just that vets here learn one thing and vets on the other side of the pond learn something else?
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Old 02-15-2008, 11:36 AM   #2
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Default Spay / Neuter

My 2 cents for what it is worth is that unless you are PLANNING to breed eariler is better.
Of course I am a fairly new (4 years) owner of a rescue dog and my opinion is based mostly on that.
Responsible and knowledgible breeders have a whole different point of view.
I just hate to see these unwanted pets given up to shelters.
I am VERY glad Lucy's previous owners gave her up.
She is a very good companion for me.
I love her
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Old 02-15-2008, 11:53 AM   #3
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For my own dogs I would never consider spay or neuter until they pass adolescence. On the other hand I advocate early spay and neuter if there is a shred of doubt that the owner isn't prepared to deal with an intact dog.

Here's a portion of one article explaining the effect early neutering can have on males.

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In terms of your dog's health, two overriding concerns are present. Castration at an early age will cause the dog to become overly tall, as the growth plates in the long bones will not close at the appropriate time; additionally, the dog will lack breadth of chest. The combination of these two factors sets the stage for your dog to have painful orthopedic problems. The OFA has published articles on this subject. An early age means below 1 year in small and medium sized dogs, and below 2 to 2.5 years in large and giant breeds.
The statement that your dog will not automatically gain weight is rubbish. Removing sexual hormones will change his metabolism and make your dog more sluggish, resulting almost inevitably in weight gain. Also, muscle tone will decline after castration, and the classic result of this is a fat dog in poor muscle tone that ends up having a cruciate ligament rupture in the knee. Can you avoid the consequences to weight and condition? Sure in the ideal world it's possible, but in the real world, the overwhelming proportion of owners do not succeed in this endeavor.
The second concern regarding your dog's health is highly malignant prostate cancer. Virtually all malignant prostatic tumors in dogs occur in castrated dogs. Castrating your dog puts him at risk for one of the worst cancers he can get. While you remove the very slight risk of testicular cancer in castrated dogs, that's a small matter; the incidence of testicular cancer is so minimal. Also, almost all testicular cancers in dogs are benign. If we find a testicular tumor, we normally remove the testicle with the mass and leave the remaining one intact. The relative incidence and severity of the tumors of the prostate relative to tumors of the testicle makes the decision to keep your dog intact a virtual no-brainer. The information on the incidence prostatic malignancies was obtained through a very large study of the records at veterinary colleges. These findings have been published for several years.*
Infection or inflammation of the prostate may occur in intact male dogs that are chronically exposed to bitches in heat. These are often worrisome to owners who seem to confuse prostatitis with the more serious prostate cancer. Prostatic infections are easily treated, and not, per se, a reason for castration.
http://www.showdogsupersite.com/kenl...ionindogs.html
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Old 02-15-2008, 11:58 AM   #4
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Here's another article on early speutering and it's possible adverse effects on the canine athlete.

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Those of us with responsibility for the health of canine athletes need to continually read and evaluate new scientific studies to ensure that we are taking the most appropriate care of our performance dogs. This article provides evidence through a number of recent studies to suggest that veterinarians and owners working with canine athletes should revisit the standard protocol in which all dogs that are not intended for breeding are spayed and neutered at or before 6 months of age.
Orthopedic Considerations

A study by Salmeri et al in 1991 found that bitches spayed at 7 weeks grew significantly taller than those spayed at 7 months, who were taller than those not spayed (or presumably spayed after the growth plates had closed).(1) A study of 1444 Golden Retrievers performed in 1998 and 1999 also found bitches and dogs spayed and neutered at less than a year of age were significantly taller than those spayed or neutered at more than a year of age.(2) The sex hormones, by communicating with a number of other growth-related hormones, promote the closure of the growth plates at puberty (3), so the bones of dogs or bitches neutered or spayed before puberty continue to grow. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered well before puberty can frequently be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This abnormal growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament. In addition, sex hormones are critical for achieving peak bone density.(4) These structural and physiological alterations may be the reason why at least one recent study showed that spayed and neutered dogs had a higher incidence of CCL rupture.(5) Another recent study showed that dogs spayed or neutered before 5 1/2 months had a significantly higher incidence of hip dysplasia than those spayed or neutered after 5 1/2 months of age, although it should be noted that in this study there were no standard criteria for the diagnosis of hip dysplasia.(6) Nonetheless, breeders of purebred dogs should be cognizant of these studies and should consider whether or not pups they bred were spayed or neutered when considering breeding decisions.
Cancer Considerations

A retrospective study of cardiac tumors in dogs showed that there was a 5 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma, one of the three most common cancers in dogs, in spayed bitches than intact bitches and a 2.4 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma in neutered dogs as compared to intact males.(7) A study of 3218 dogs demonstrated that dogs that were neutered before a year of age had a significantly increased chance of developing bone cancer.(8) A separate study showed that neutered dogs had a two-fold higher risk of developing bone cancer.(9) Despite the common belief that neutering dogs helps prevent prostate cancer, at least one study suggests that neutering provides no benefit.(10) There certainly is evidence of a slightly increased risk of mammary cancer in female dogs after one heat cycle, and for increased risk with each subsequent heat. While about 30 % of mammary cancers are malignant, as in humans, when caught and surgically removed early the prognosis is very good.(12) Luckily, canine athletes are handled frequently and generally receive prompt veterinary care.
Behavioral Considerations

The study that identified a higher incidence of cranial cruciate ligament rupture in spayed or neutered dogs also identified an increased incidence of sexual behaviors in males and females that were neutered early.(5) Further, the study that identified a higher incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs neutered or spayed before 5 1/2 months also showed that early age gonadectomy was associated with an increased incidence of noise phobias and undesirable sexual behaviors.(6) A recent report of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation reported significantly more behavioral problems in spayed and neutered bitches and dogs. The most commonly observed behavioral problem in spayed females was fearful behavior and the most common problem in males was aggression.(12)
Other Health Considerations

A number of studies have shown that there is an increase in the incidence of female urinary incontinence in dogs spayed early (13), although this finding has not been universal. Certainly there is evidence that ovarian hormones are critical for maintenance of genital tissue structure and contractility.(14, 15) Neutering also has been associated with an increased likelihood of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.(16) This problem is an inconvenience, and not usually life-threatening, but nonetheless one that requires the dog to be medicated for life. A health survey of several thousand Golden Retrievers showed that spayed or neutered dogs were more likely to develop hypothyroidism.(2) This study is consistent with the results of another study in which neutering and spaying was determined to be the most significant gender-associated risk factor for development of hypothyroidism.(17) Infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were spayed or neutered at 24 weeks or less as opposed to those undergoing gonadectomy at more than 24 weeks.(18) Finally, the AKC-CHF report demonstrated a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in neutered dogs as compared to intact.(12)
http://www.caninesports.com/SpayNeuter.html
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Old 02-15-2008, 02:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by applesmom View Post
For my own dogs I would never consider spay or neuter until they pass adolescence. On the other hand I advocate early spay and neuter if there is a shred of doubt that the owner isn't prepared to deal with an intact dog.

Here's a portion of one article explaining the effect early neutering can have on males.
http://www.showdogsupersite.com/kenl.../castrationind
Couldn't agree more! I wish I would have waited with Rowdy and very glad I waited until Disco aged a bit more.

I really like this article as well
http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongT...uterInDogs.pdf
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:40 PM   #6
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im in uk and i had ruby spayed at 6months. my vet advocates early spaying (at 6 months if not had first 'season', or 3 months after first 'season') for health benefits.."in a female it guards against female cancers...there is a small risk of urinary incontinence in later years but this is more likely in larger breeds" (as quoted in information leaflet from vets practice)
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:32 PM   #7
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OK, I've never had a male dog before but it is on my list. We had heard that the male will start to "spray" marking his territory. This is something we cannot have in the house and when they start, even if neutered, they still have the "habit". When do they start marking and is what I've heard true? I'm getting a performance pup to run Agility and perhaps herd with. I don't want to do something to jeopardize his structure or success. Maddie was fixed early and she has no issues as yet. What percentages of these health issues happening? If it goes from 1 in a million to 1 in 750,000...
I'd like to hear more input on this before my boy goes under the knife.

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Old 02-15-2008, 05:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Aussies Rock View Post
OK, I've never had a male dog before but it is on my list. We had heard that the male will start to "spray" marking his territory. This is something we cannot have in the house and when they start, even if neutered, they still have the "habit". When do they start marking and is what I've heard true? I'm getting a performance pup to run Agility and perhaps herd with. I don't want to do something to jeopardize his structure or success. Maddie was fixed early and she has no issues as yet. What percentages of these health issues happening? If it goes from 1 in a million to 1 in 750,000...
I'd like to hear more input on this before my boy goes under the knife.
First off, we need to clear up that male dogs don't "spray" like a cat! When they do "mark" they simply lift their leg and pee.

I've had a houseful of intact males and females along with many visiting dogs of both sexes and I've yet to have a male dog attempt to mark inside the house. Even when a female was in heat!

A male dog that has been raised and house trained properly isn't likely to develop the habit of marking inside whether he's been neutered or not.

However there is a difference in male and female dogs when it comes to peeing outside in their own yard or even on walks. A female and most neutered males will find the "perfect" spot and get it over with.

An intact male will often make three or four pit stops before he's completely emptied his bladder and he always keeps a little in reserve--just in case! If not discouraged from the beginning, they'll also pee on anything handy, such as fire plugs, lawn mowers, car tires, woodpiles and even lawn furniture or the side of the house. If the habit is never allowed to develop in the first place, they're no more of a problem than females or neutered dogs!
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Old 02-15-2008, 05:56 PM   #9
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Thanks for the information. We had a little dog come over with a neighbor. He immediately found some place to mark, in the house. That has got my wife very set on early neuter. I need information to convince her it would be better to wait. I guess we could let it play out. It's all part of house training a new pup, that kind of activity belongs outside!

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Old 02-15-2008, 06:26 PM   #10
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I've known quite a few small intact and neutered male dogs I wouldn't allow into my house because I knew they would try to mark. Females too!

Never had that problem with a larger dog! A neighbor of mine raised Italian Greyhounds and her house stunk like a kennel. But she'd sit right there and watch them raise their leg and never say a word!
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