Spaying and Neutering Your Dog
I read an interesting article from my friend and fellow veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker on her blog/website – Mercola Healthy Pets – This One Procedure Could Reduce Your Pet’s Lifespan by Over 30% The article is based on a study done by the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation in which David Waters, DVM and others discovered that female Rottweilers that kept their ovaries for at least 6 years were 4 times more likely to have exceptional longevity.
After reading this article I am not ready to jump ship and say that I am not going to spay or neuter anymore. I agree with Dr. Becker in that each case is an individual situation and that there is no specific age right for all dogs. I believe owners should be informed of all the pros and cons of the procedure and make the decision based on all the information. One thing that I will say is that dogs should be older not younger to have the procedure done. The hormones are NEEDED for growth plate closure, which means most dogs will be over a year of age, except for toy breeds, and giant breeds may be closer to 2 years of age before neutering/spaying.
I also believe that certain situations were left out in the study as well. Now I have not read the study (yet), but there are some things that need to be noted when believing that not spaying or neutering increases the lifespan of the dog. I can not argue the fact and the common sense behind that a dog needs hormones, just as humans do, to have a properly functioning body and taking away the hormones can cause health issues. Leaving them in also causes health issues such as some cancers, some hormonal diseases, prostate issues and pyometras. So it is not the health issues that I can argue with, since there are advantages and disadvantages to both sides, but rather the social issues in today’s society that dogs have to live. The life span of an un-altered male or female can and does decrease with an increase in accidents from the desire to breed, such as being hit by a car in search of a mate. Un-altered dogs are much more likely to find ways to escape and get out. The desire to breed is very strong and for the average owner it is not possible to train them to not listen to that instinct. Multi-dog households will have an increase in fighting between unaltered animals. Male dogs as with most males of all the animal kingdom have much more aggressive attitudes and tend to have behavior problems associated with this, such as aggressive dominance and a more willingness to fight both other dogs and humans. Even if you did vasectomies and tubal ligation these behavior/social issues will still exist.
Another major decrease in life is of the unwanted puppies that are euthanized due to unwanted pregnancies due to accidental breedings. Even the most responsible, conscientious dog owner can have an accident happen and then it will affect the lives of not only their own dog but to the average of 6 other puppies that can be born of that accident.
So I am not in complete believe that not spaying or neutering will increase a dogs life because in many instances especially in today’s society it will lead to a decrease in life span. However it does warrant more investigation and it definitely is an individual thing for most owners and their pet.
Other articles related to Spay/Neutering
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I went to a Chris Zink seminar recently and the spay talk was very interesting. She said that the hormones are needed to tell the dog to stop growing and to close growth plates by the time they are 15 months. She said that is why early …
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