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Best time to Spay/Neuter


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O.k everybody I know this may cause a debate here but I found this very informative and it has me reconsidering early spays/neuters. Not trying to start an argument but would really like your educated opinions.

[size=2]cross-posted with permission from the original author[/size]
[quote]From time to time, the subject of early spay/neuter comes up on this and
other Ridgeback related lists. Those of us who have strong opinions on
either side of this debate are not going to change each other's mind.

HOWEVER, there are many on the lists who are new or have not developed an opinion. For those of you who fall into one of these categories, I offer my comments.

Spaying and neutering is an unnatural act - especially when done prior to
physical maturity. It is a compromise of the endocrine system. Once changed, there are reactions.

The procedure of spay/neuter prior to puberty came about as a result of
over-population of dogs and cats. Humane organizations became overwhelmed with an abundance of unwanted animals. To lessen the heartbreak and expense of euthanization and to help reduce crowding in already overcrowded shelters, early spaying and neutering was recommended PRIOR to first season in a female and interest/ability to copulate in a male.

The root cause of early spay/neuter was solely attributed to overpopulation. It had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with health reasons - whether it was good/bad for the animal to have this procedure done at an early age.

Early spay/neuter procedures are a snap for veterinarians. Snip/stitch -
over and done with. Short term benefits are evident, but not so long- term.

I AM a supporter of spay/neuter - but not before a dog/bitch has reached
physical maturity. (If you wait until they are mentally mature, you may
never get the procedure done - that's a small joke, folks.)

Personally? I will not spay a bitch prior to three months AFTER completion
of the first heat; OR a male prior to 12 months of age - preferably 18
months of age if the male is not exhibiting any signs of sexual aggression
or combativeness with other males.

If you are afraid that a puppy or young dog that you sell or place into a
home will become pregnant or produce a pregnancy, that home is not a good choice.

Does the person have a fenced yard, will the person use a crate for
confining a bitch in season, are there other animals in the same house that
are not spayed/neutered?

These are all questions that must be satisfactorily answered before placing
ANY dog in ANY home.

The first step to reducing overpopulation begins with placement. If your
only solution to the problem is spay/neuter in infancy or prior to physical
maturity, then you're solely interested in the overpopulation problem and
not necessarily in the long-term health of the individual dog.

Think about the dogs that create the overpopulation. Are they the dogs sold by reputable breeders or rescue organizations into responsible homes? I think not. Therefore, I do not understand this rush to spay/neuter these dogs at such a young age when there are a myriad of case studies that such procedures have many ill- effects on the long-term health of the animal.

In large breed dogs, it is not unusual for a female to have what is referred
to as juvenile vulva. The anatomy of many large breed puppies is that the
vulva is covered with a flap of skin or the vulva is recessed. Most often,
these puppies and young bitches suffer from recurring rounds of vaginitis
and urinary tract infections due to droplets of urine remaining in the
flap/fold of skin which produces bacteria which backs up into the
vaginal/urinary tract causing infection.

This fold/recession usually goes away after the first heat cycle. The vulva
matures and drops, and the problem of the flap/recession is resolved.

Spaying prior to the maturation of the vulva freezes the bitch's anatomy in
time, and you could be dealing with vaginal/urinary tract infections for the
rest of the bitch's life.

Early neutering of males? Let me quote just one case study:

G. Ru, B. Terracini, LT. Glickman
Vet J 1998 Jul; 156 (1) : 31-0
Host related risk factors for canine osteosarcoma
ABSTRACT: A case controlled study using the Veterinary Medical Data Base
(VMDB) was conducted to test the hypothesis that increasing height and
weight are important risk factors for osteosarcoma in dogs. The role of
other host factors was also explored. The cases comprised 3062 purebred
dogs with histologically or radiographically confirmed osteosarcoma admitted to 24 veterinary teaching hospitals in the United States and Canada between 1980 and 1994. The controls were 3959 purebred dogs with other diagnoses obtained randomly by frequency matching to case for institution and year of diagnosis. The risk of osteosarcoma rose with increasing age, increasing body weight, increasing standard weight and increasing standard height.
Compared with the GSD breed, the highest risk of osteosarcomes was found for large and giant breeds, while small breeds had reduced risks. A TWO-FOLD EXCESS RISK WAS OBSERVED AMONG NEUTERED DOGS (capitalization is mine for emphasis on this statement). Adjustment of risk estimates for standard height adjusted for standard weight, and vice versa, showed a stronger and more consistent association of osteosarcoma with increasing height than increasing weight.

Further case studies showing the down side of neutering males when they are too young:

Growth plate closure delayed when neutered prior to 7 weeks of age; lesser effect when neutered prior to 7 months of age; no effect when neutered after achieving full height.

Penile development less mature when neutered prior to 7 weeks.

More likely to develop lower urinary tract neoplasm

Significantly elevated risk of diabetes

High risk of hypothyroid (low FT3 which responds to TSH)

Increased risk of osteosarcoma when neutered prior to 7 months of age.

Further case studies show the following adverse effects of early spaying of
females (prior to 7 mos. of age)

Growth plate closure delayed when bitch is spayed less than 7 week; lesser
effect when neutered less than 7 months; no effect when spayed after
achieving full height.

Vulvar development less mature when neutered prior to 7 months.

7 - 8 times more likely to develop urinary incontinence

2 times more likely to be obese

Significantly shorter vagina

Distance from cranial pubic bone and internal urethral orifice is shorter

More likely to develop lower urinary tract neoplasm

Increased risk of cranial cruciate ligament injury

High risk of hypothyroid (low FT3 which responds to TSH)

Increased risk of cardiac tumors, hemangiosarcoms, thyroid carcinoma

Decreased smooth muscle mass and connective tissue.

Increased risk of acute fatal pancreatitis

Increased osteoblasts in bone

There are some positive sides of spay/neuter.

Decreased risk of mammary tumors if bitch was thin 9 - 12 months of age
prior to spaying.

No risk of pyometra infection in spayed bitches.

No risk of false pregnancy syndrome in spayed bitches

Less likely to develop perianal fistula in spayed bitches.

Lowest risk of leukemia in neutered males

No risk of testicular cancer. No change in risk to prostatic carcinoma
(nontesticular androgen implicated)

Any physically mature Ridgeback dog/bitch that will not be used for breeding will benefit from neutering/spaying.

Any dog/bitch that has been used for breeding should be neutered/spayed past the age of 7 years as it will greatly reduce the risk of cancers that result after this age. Sperm can be collected from males for future breedings. To breed a bitch past 7 years of age compromises her health and longevity. To breed these older bitches should not be done without a thorough health work-up and advice from your veterinarian.

Before making a decision to spay/neuter your Ridgeback puppy at an age prior to one year, please investigate all sides of the debate, discuss the pros and cons thoroughly - first with your breeder and then with your

A great resource for researching this subject is VETMED. You can subscribe to their archival information by going to

Doreen Kent

Help break the chain of indiscriminate breeding -
Be an angel - support RTI[/quote]


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before Glasis was spayed we talked it over with the vet and it was decided the right time was inbetween the first and second season right in the middle 12 weeks after the first day of her season. He said he would not spay any dog very early it can cause water leakage in later life. It is normal in the UK to spay later
I agree with your quote

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In our practice we Spay bitches from 7 months on providing they haven't had a season or are approaching their first season. In this way the hormone levels are dampened down and there is no risk of a pseudopregnancy or associated complications when the bitch is spayed.

For bitches in season we won't spay them until 13 weeks after their last season. This way the uterus is reduced in size and there is absolutely no risk of a concealed pyometra. The reason as to why spayed bitches have incontinence problems is down to the vet him/herself and how accurate they are with surgery. There is a very fine ligature linked over the uterus that stems from the bladder and if this is damaged during spaying then the bitch in later life, along with decreased exercise shows signs of bladder leakage. My boss is extremely careful when spaying and its a standing joke in our practice between the staff that he takes more loving care with the ligature than he does with his wife :P

Spaying reduces ovarian cancer, and pyometra and is greatly encouraged when we are educating owners. As far as male dogs go, we neuter from 5 months onwards. The sooner that the neutering is done, the better. ie; if the animal doesn't discover his anatomy then behavioural problems resulting from elevated and incoherent hormonal levels is less likely to occur.

With respect to the animals putting on weight and getting obese, this occurs due to owner ignorance. Hormonal effects don't decrease as soon as the animal is spayed/castrated but over the following weeks the hormonal levels reduce from 100% to 20%, and this causes a decrease in metabolic rate. Also hormonal levels decreasing instruct the animal that (females especially) she will never have to care for pups and she can start to lay down fat for herself and look after herself better , rather than having to keep burning fat to convert to carbohydates for energy in order to look after offspring.

If an animals food is decreased by around a third of what it was originally getting and with sustained exercise then the animal will remain healthy and won't be prone to lay down fat. This is all advice that we give to owners when discussing aftercare prior to and following the operation.

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I support pediatric (8-9 weeks old) spay/neuter, but only in a shelter setting. If the animal is owned then waiting is best, but for shelter animals I think it's better the pets go out altered than to go out on certificate/contract. That's my opinion only. Our shelter fixes every animal and has been doing so for 2 years now - I think it's a great thing for us to be doing as our adopted animals are definitely not breeding.

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