23 Mar 2015
In the 1960s and early ’70s in the United States there was a serious problem with pet overpopulation. An estimated 20 million cats and dogs were euthanized in animal shelters each year. At that time most people did not spay or neuter their pets and it wasn’t unusual for pet owners to have unwanted litters of kittens or puppies.
Since that time there has been a great public education campaign to make pet owners more aware of their responsibility when it comes to containing their pets and stopping unwanted litters. Today it’s estimated that 2-3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters each year and many of those animals are considered unadoptable because of age or illness. Great strides have been made toward reducing unwanted litters.
According to the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey 78 percent of owned dogs are spayed or neutered and 88 percent of owned cats are spayed or neutered. The message about spaying and neutering pets has reached the vast majority of pet owners in the U.S.
Benefits of spaying and neutering
There are a number of benefits to spaying and neutering your dog. According to the Society for Theriogenology (animal reproductive veterinarians) spaying and neutering provide the following benefits:
• Decreased risk of mammary, testicular, and ovarian neoplasia
• Decreased risk of pyometra
• Decreased risk of prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatic cysts and squamous metaplasia of the prostate
• Decreased incidence of perineal and inguinal hernia and perineal adenoma in neutered male dogs
• Inter-dog aggression may be due to competition for available territory or availability of cycling animals
• There is a decreased risk of wandering and being hit by a car in neutered animals
• Sterilization prevents unwanted litters
On the other hand, there are also benefits to keeping your dog intact.
Benefits of keeping your dog intact
• There is a decreased incidence of hemangiosarcoma in intact dogs
• There is a decreased incidence of osteosarcoma in intact dogs
• There is a decreased risk of transitional cell carcinoma in intact dogs
• There is a decreased risk of prostatic adenocarcinoma in intact male dogs compared to gonadectomized male dogs
• There is a decreased incidence of obesity in intact male and female dogs, which may be due at least partly to increased metabolic rate
• There is a decreased incidence of urinary incontinence in intact female dogs (equivocal if bitches are spayed after 5 months but before their first heat)
• There may be a reduced incidence of urinary tract infection in intact female dogs
• There may be a reduced incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis and hypothyroidism in intact male and female dogs
• There is a possibly reduced incidence in diabetes mellitus in intact male dogs
• There is a reduced incidence of cranial cruciate rupture in intact male and female dogs
• There may be a reduced incidence of hip dysplasia in male and female dogs that are not gonadectomized before 5 months of age
• There may be less aggression towards people and animals in intact female dogs
• There may be a decreased incidence of cognitive dysfunction in intact male and female dogs
A new study from the University of California at Davis backs up these findings and emphasizes the negative effects of spaying and neutering on hip dysplasia and cancers. http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10498 According to this study, and others, it’s definitely advisable to wait until your dog is older to spay or neuter.
So, while there are definitely some benefits to spaying or neutering your dog and it makes sense for many pet owners, there are also health benefits to keeping a dog intact. You should always talk to your vet about spaying and neutering. Discuss your dog’s overall health, his age, his breed or mix, and any health conditions that might be affected by spaying and neutering. Your dog looks to you to make these decisions for him so find out all you can