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Discussion Starter #1
Something to think about...hope it's not a repeat.

"Spay/neuter: What does the science say?" -
http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2008/01/08/spayneuter-what-does-the-science-say/

And this is a good paper as well - http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/longtermhealtheffectsofspayneuterindogs.pdf

Quote:
SUMMARY

An objective reading of the veterinary medical literature reveals a complex situation with respect to the longterm health risks and benefits associated with spay/neuter in dogs. The evidence shows that spay/neuter correlates with both positive AND adverse health effects in dogs. It also suggests how much we really do not yet understand about this subject.

On balance, it appears that no compelling case can be made for neutering most male dogs, especially immature male dogs, in order to prevent future health problems. The number of health problems associated with neutering may exceed the associated health benefits in most cases.

On the positive side, neutering male dogs
• eliminates the small risk (probably <1%) of dying from testicular cancer
• 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

For female dogs, the situation is more complex. The number of health benefits associated with spaying may exceed the associated health problems in some (not all) cases. On balance, whether spaying improves the odds of overall good health or degrades them probably depends on the age of the female dog and the relative risk of various diseases in the different breeds.

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 dogs spayed 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

One thing is clear - much of the spay/neuter information that is available to the public is unbalanced and contains claims that are exaggerated or unsupported by evidence. Rather than helping to educate pet owners, much of it has contributed to common misunderstandings about the health risks and benefits associated of spay/neuter in dogs.
 

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Mandy
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118 Posts
Well crap. I don't want to breed my dog and I have a contract to spay but it sure doesn't look like the benefits outweigh the risks. Hell, just the up to 20% spay incontinence is enough to give me doubts...
 

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Metrowest, MA
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26,663 Posts
Well crap. I don't want to breed my dog and I have a contract to spay but it sure doesn't look like the benefits outweigh the risks. Hell, just the up to 20% spay incontinence is enough to give me doubts...
There are other very real reasons for neutering, though timing can certainly be argued. Females in heat are NOT FUN for ANYONE. you will have to keep her isolated from all intact males. You won't be able to walk her while in heat without attractive every intact male (and a bunch of neutered ones too) for miles around. The blood gets on things, including them. "Silent" heats are not uncommon, where you don't know your bitch is in heat, and all of a sudden, oops! You have a pregnant bitch.

The incontinence issue would give me pause too. But I would just be looking for the most experienced surgeon I could find to spay my girl. I would NOT use the local discount spay and neuter "clinic". I would have a long talk with the vet, and ASK how often s/he has had a problem with incontinence after a spay.

While I don't think Kodi was harmed by neutering him at 6 months (as per my contract) knowing what I know now, I probably would ask a breeder if I could wait until one year to neuter/spay. I think most would be fine with this as long as you discussed your reasons with them.
 

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Flynn of Sir Winston fame
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I have to soundly agree with the research, which I have seen before. That is exactly why I waited to neuter Sir Winston. My vet vouched for me that I would neuter him, so the shelter let me have him...I wanted to be sure of his maturity...and yes I can tell you why.
I had a Lowchen who was neutered at 4 months and I can tell you that he did die at age 2 1/2 of Hemangiosacoma. That made a believer out of me finally. Once I read the research it made sense to me.
OK, I know others will disagree, but that is okay too. I think everyone should be advised of the research out there and realize that SOME of the vets are more interested in neutering and spaying than they are in objectively looking at the research...NOT all, but some.
It is much the same as foods, some of the vets promote certain foods when they know there are better foods out there for the same or less costs...
It is the same with vaccinations...we have seen much talk about that..
In short you need to take responsibility for your pet...don't make decisions because "that is just the way we do it attitude of the vet"....this is a great place to get input from Hav owners..it is invaluable...I love this group!
 

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I waited until Ricki was 2.5 years old, I received quit a bit of grief (from the groomer, vet, self-appointed dog experts etc...). Ultimately the decision was mine and I feel confident I made the right choice however, every situation is different.
 

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Mandy
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118 Posts
I've had a dog in heat before, it was a pain in the butt, no doubt. I think the advice to find a trustworthy vet /surgeon is sound with regard to the spay incontinence issue but the rest is just depressing.

There are behavioral pros for neutering a young dog before he gets to a certain age. Are their behavioral pros for females as well (aside from the in heat part)?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have always balked at spaying my females because I haven't had a lot of them and haven't had a messy one. Never have had an oops litter either with intact males in the home nor one that died of anything other than natural causes. I am on the fence at times about these procedures but I do understand the many reasons for doing so. Males are so much easier to do with far less complications if done at the appropriate age. I have stated before that my vet has a neuter over and done within 20 minutes and they go home with me a few hours later. I have owned far more males than females and it's easier to not have intact males unless they are to be used for breeding.

I have found it is manageable to have intact of both sexes if one is diligent in separating them when bitches are in season but it's a lot of extra attention to deal with. Sometimes I feel a tad guilty surgically altering because it's more convenient because at one time I bought into the idea that it was better for the dogs health to do so. It gets so complicated at times to make the decision, weighing the pros and cons if surgery is necessary for animal health or if just easier for we owners in the long run.

I think it's up to each individual owner to decide as we are all the caretaker of our pets and we want the very best for them. Being informed of whatever information we can absorb makes the choices a little bit easier.
 
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