Should you wait to spay/neuter your dog or cat?
So when should you be spaying/neutering your dog or cat?
The debate is on.
Here is the ‘Fat Cat’ 🙂 … (and my daughter Aliza…)
Some ‘controversial’ studies have come out suggesting that early spay/neuter can have harmful health consequences for your pets.
I do first need to add is that this is hardly groundbreaking…
Clearly sex hormones are important. Let’s consider what happens in people.
In men when your testosterone drops, you lose muscle mass, gain weight, are more likely to have arthritis, diabetes.
Or in menopause with women – the decrease in estrogen levels in menopausal women is associated with the loss of subcutaneous fat and an increase in abdominal fat.
The Dog Studies…
Most of this is specific for dogs, but some researchers are looking at the links between early spay/neuter in cats, links with obesity, diabetes and degenerative joint disease.
Here is what has been studied with dogs.
New Research linking Spay/neuter to Joint Disease and Cancer
A fairly new research paper… Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence authored by Dr’s Benjamin and Lynette Hart at UC Davis (California), puts a big question mark as to what really is the best age to be spaying/neutering.
The study found some worrisome results for certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers…
…Recent research reveals that for some dog breeds, neutering may be associated with increased risks of debilitating joint disorders and some cancers, complicating pet owners’ decisions on neutering.
The joint disorders include hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear or rupture, and elbow dysplasia.
The cancers include lymphoma, mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma.
In previous studies on the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd Dog, neutering before a year of age was associated with increased risks of one or more joint disorders, 2-4 times that of intact dogs.
The increase was particularly seen with dogs neutered by 6 months of age.
In female Golden Retrievers, there was an increase in one or more of the cancers followed to about 2-4 times that of intact females with neutering at any age.
Here is what is suggested for Golden Retrievers based on these results…
The suggested guideline for males, based on the increased risks of joint disorders and cancers, is delaying neutering until beyond a year of age. The suggested guideline for females, based on the increased occurrence of cancers at all spaying ages, is leaving the female intact or spaying at one year and remaining vigilant for the cancers.
Things are a changing.
Now even the AKCis suggesting delaying spay/neuter:
‘An age of six to nine months of age may be appropriate for neutering or spaying a toy breed puppy https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/care-toy-breeds-extra-small/ or small breed puppy but a larger or giant breed may need to wait until they are near or over 12-18 months of age.‘
But what about Cats?
Today’s Veterinary Practice says this:
They found no increased incidence of infectious disease, behavioral problems, or problems with any body system in the cats sterilized before 6 months of age compared with those sterilized at 6 months or older.
That being said, it doesn’t take a ‘rocket scientist’ to see the link between removing the sex hormones, decreases in muscle mass, increases in body fat, and then links to diabetes/arthritis.
The lean intact male cat… following the neuter he sleeps and eats and gets … fat (aka my last cat Murray).
So WHAT should you do?
I would suggest delaying the spay/neuter of ANY dog to at least 1 year of age, preferably 2 years.
There is a clear association between joint disorders (i.e. ACL injury, Hip Dysplasia and early spay/neuter).
There is an increased risk of many of the cancers – the sex hormones are playing a role in cancer, and it would be wise to delay spay/neuter until 2 years.
When I get a puppy again, I will be delaying spay/neuter until 2 years of age.
As for cats, I would suggest delaying until a year of age, unless you have an outdoor cat that is likely to be breeding… or you have unwanted behavioural issues.
P.S. So this is being discussed by mainstream Veterinarians… this is now a ‘thing’.
If I were to have a puppy, I would wait until 2 years of age before spay or neuter.
P.P.S. This has been given by thousands of dog parents… . with some GREAT results.
A Complete All Natural Dog or Cat Supplement can help keep your pet healthy, and may even PREVENT disease: