Long term health effects of spay/neuter

Food, Fitness and how to keep them healthy.

Postby TheRedQueen » February 24th, 2011, 3:59 pm

This was brought up in the off-topic section, but I think it needs its own thread, so here goes!

I've been waiting a while to neuter The Wiener, giving him a chance to grow up and develop. Now as I'm hearing more about not neutering instead...I'm debating neutering him at all. I was told to read this:

http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/longterm ... indogs.pdf

I've always been told to spay/neuter, as early as possible to avoid potential health problems down the road. But now with more evidence coming out that says the opposite, I'm wondering what to do. :neutral:

http://www.caninesports.com/SpayNeuter.html

My own experience with mammary tumors was that my female basset ended up with a mammary tumor (we had it surgically removed and had clean margins), despite being spayed at 6 months, before her first heat cycle. The vets weren't worried about it, regardless...apparently they don't spread or get ugly like other forms of cancer.

So...The Wiener will be 2 years old in May, and I still haven't decided what to do with him. And no, for those that may be asking...he has no "behavior issues"...he doesn't mark (other than what a normal dog does when he's out and about with other dogs in the area), he doesn't hump (except for his sister, Inara...who loves and adores him too), he doesn't roam, he can be off-leash anywhere, etc. Even with the dog next door in heat, he still didn't any issues listening to me and wasn't trying to get through the fence or anything. :|
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Postby Malli » February 24th, 2011, 4:30 pm

From my knowledge and experience I would spay neuter but probably wait 'till 1-1.5 yrs.

Since I'm not a vet I don't feel qualified to really say I understand all the ins and outs of the risks of not s/n'ing, but I can say that the issues seem to come up in older animals and by then the treatment for the issues (prostate cancer, prostatis, mammary tumors, pyometra, etc) plus the possible surgery can be really hard on an older dog, and there is more likelyhood for complications.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 24th, 2011, 4:53 pm

Malli wrote:From my knowledge and experience I would spay neuter but probably wait 'till 1-1.5 yrs.

Since I'm not a vet I don't feel qualified to really say I understand all the ins and outs of the risks of not s/n'ing, but I can say that the issues seem to come up in older animals and by then the treatment for the issues (prostate cancer, prostatis, mammary tumors, pyometra, etc) plus the possible surgery can be really hard on an older dog, and there is more likelyhood for complications.


Right, but the studies that I'm seeing are saying that with prostate cancer that there is no benefit from neutering...and that there is only a *slight* risk of mammary tumors with each additional heat cycle.

But that other problems are being associated *WITH* s/n...including bone cancer, thyroid issues, etc...which are worse than a malignant mammary tumor or pyo and such.
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Postby pocketpit » February 24th, 2011, 5:07 pm

I'm definately not a big fan of early spays/neuters. I think rescues adopting out animals have a good reason to do it (and should do it) but as for my own personal animals, it won't happen. I like to wait until they are older. And like you I'm always on the fence about the boys. Currently we have 2 intact males that are both almost 9yrs old and knock on wood, we've had no issues. I would probably continue to spay the females since it's easier to deal with no heat cycles and frankly I have seen a lot of older bitches end up with pyometra but again I wouldn't do it until they are a bit older than normal. Tru for example was 1.5yrs when she was spayed.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 24th, 2011, 5:10 pm

pocketpit wrote:I'm definately not a big fan of early spays/neuters. I think rescues adopting out animals have a good reason to do it (and should do it) but as for my own personal animals, it won't happen. I like to wait until they are older. And like you I'm always on the fence about the boys. Currently we have 2 intact males that are both almost 9yrs old and knock on wood, we've had no issues. I would probably continue to spay the females since it's easier to deal with no heat cycles and frankly I have seen a lot of older bitches end up with pyometra but again I wouldn't do it until they are a bit older than normal. Tru for example was 1.5yrs when she was spayed.


Yeah, I don't know if I could have an intact female...too much work for me...lol.

Inara was 1.5 years old when she was spayed by the rescue also...Score was neutered WAY early...and I wish he hadn't been. :neutral:
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Postby plebayo » February 24th, 2011, 5:13 pm

I know a lot of intact dogs that are severely overweight, have thyroid issues, and have known a couple intact dogs who have had bone cancer.

I've also seen a bull dog get an inverted penis because he wouldn't quit humping everything in sight and had to have emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. I've also seen the really ugly anal tumors that intact males get [super gross!], and we've had two dogs get tumors on the testicles themselves and have had to have them removed. Pyometra's are also super fun too!

I don't think the health "risks" or long term effects are so bad that I wouldn't neuter. I would rather spay my dog and know that I tried to prevent cancer, than do nothing and wait for it to happen.

I've seen mammory tumors in a spayed cat but have not seen them in a spayed dog. All of the bad mammory cancer cases we have seen have been dogs that have not been spayed, in all cases that I have seen they spread to the chest and the dogs eventually had to be euthanized. I have to agree a lot of these situations happen in older dogs, but then you have the person who doesn't want to treat the dog because it is old and doesn't hold value anymore.

If Fig was a dachshund mix would you still be considering keeping him intact? I mean, know you're a responsible owner but if he was a mutt would you feel the same way?
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Postby LMM » February 24th, 2011, 5:20 pm

Well coming from a rescue perspective I get why early s/n needs to be done but honestly, I don't like it. I'd rather wait until they were a little older. We don't really have that option though :(

However, we will NOT do these super pediatric spay/neuters (8 weeks or less) that some of these rescues do.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 24th, 2011, 5:45 pm

plebayo wrote:If Fig was a dachshund mix would you still be considering keeping him intact? I mean, know you're a responsible owner but if he was a mutt would you feel the same way?


Absolutely. Score is a mix...and I wish I'd been able to keep him intact longer. It has nothing to do with breed, it has everything to do with letting them grow and develop, as they were meant to do. ;)

My gang were spayed/neutered before coming to me...so I had no choice in the matter, luckily they were done when they entered rescue, and were older for the most part.

And I don't think that anyone is saying that intact dogs *don't* get these problems...but that spaying and neutering doesn't necessarily HELP with keeping them healthy, as many people put forth.

As an owner, it's up to me to make the right choice for my dogs and for me, obviously...and as a rescuer, I agree that dogs should be s/n before going to an adopter...but as a sports person, it would be nice to have the choice of when it happens. :dance:
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Postby plebayo » February 24th, 2011, 5:50 pm

Absolutely. Score is a mix...and I wish I'd been able to keep him intact longer. It has nothing to do with breed, it has everything to do with letting them grow and develop, as they were meant to do. ;)


But in your post it makes it sound like you don't want to neuter at all. I'm all for alteration when they are at an appropriate age... but I guess my question is if the risks outweigh the positives, or there's no point in spaying and neutering, do you think we should just stop doing it?

Also how do you think the extra hormones help the dog in the sport? [asking seriously, not in a condescending manner AT ALL.]
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 24th, 2011, 6:00 pm

plebayo wrote:
Absolutely. Score is a mix...and I wish I'd been able to keep him intact longer. It has nothing to do with breed, it has everything to do with letting them grow and develop, as they were meant to do. ;)


But in your post it makes it sound like you don't want to neuter at all. I'm all for alteration when they are at an appropriate age... but I guess my question is if the risks outweigh the positives, or there's no point in spaying and neutering, do you think we should just stop doing it?

Also how do you think the extra hormones help the dog in the sport? [asking seriously, not in a condescending manner AT ALL.]


I don't think everyone should stop s/n...no, not at all...because obviously not everyone is responsible...there are tons of people that shouldn't be allowed to own a dog, much less an intact one. ;)

I'm just not sure that neutering Fig is in his best interest at this point...I originally planned on doing it when he hit 18-24 months, to let him develop, since he's a train wreck, structure-wise. And there is a reason that he has balls...nature gave them to him, so if there are few risks with keeping them...why not?

As for sports, they've come up with pretty compelling evidence for s/n affecting growth plates and such...so that's why I'd keep intact longer (at the very least 18 months) before s/n. I used to be a "get those balls off now!" kinda person, but as I live longer with an intact dog, and I read more about it...I'm changing my mind.
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Postby iluvk9 » February 24th, 2011, 6:06 pm

All I can add is that my Vet likes to wait for my larger breed dogs to be about 1-1.5 years, unless they really start humping everything in sight. He likes the dog to develop a larger chest and let the hormones do what they gotta do. He DID spay his own Pit puppy at 6 months just last week, as I suggested. His pup was "feeling his oats" and he agreed he didn't need any more hormones surging around.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 24th, 2011, 6:18 pm

iluvk9 wrote:All I can add is that my Vet likes to wait for my larger breed dogs to be about 1-1.5 years, unless they really start humping everything in sight. He likes the dog to develop a larger chest and let the hormones do what they gotta do. He DID spay his own Pit puppy at 6 months just last week, as I suggested. His pup was "feeling his oats" and he agreed he didn't need any more hormones surging around.


That's a decent reason to neuter, but it may not get rid of the behavior, as there are other reasons to mount, rather than just hormones. ;) Inara humps more than the rest of my dogs (intact or not) put together!
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Postby iluvk9 » February 24th, 2011, 6:22 pm

Yes, but remember, he works with the general public and dog owner. :wink:
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Postby FAB dogs » February 24th, 2011, 6:58 pm

One concern I have with older speuters is recovery time and complications. I had a foster dog neutered when he was 3-5 years old and he seemed so traumatized by it. Took weeks before he was back to normal. I had my boy Brogan done at 3 months old and he came back acting like nothing had been done to him. Due to weather issues, Fenway's neuter was postponed from Feb. 2 to next Wednesday. He's roughly 6-8 months old now and I'm anxious to get it done before the hormones really kick in. I'll be interested to see how he reacts/recovers as compared to Brogan.

My sibe/mal Quinn was neutered at 6 months old. He ended up being a 75 pound dog with no problems I know of that could be related to the surgery. He was a poorly built dog to begin with but his growth in general didn't seem affected. Avery, on the other hand, was spayed at 6 months old and is still the feistiest bitch I've ever met. I guess a lot of it can be based on the individual dog.

People are always asking at the shelter about when they should have it done. I tell them the vets around here are mostly "old school" and say 6 months. Yet the low cost clinic we partner with will do them as long as they're 8 weeks and weigh at least 3 pounds.

Now here's another question/variable. What about vets that do laser speuters? My regular vet offers laser surgery for an additional fee. Less invasive, less complications, etc. If using a laser on an older dog is going to lessen the effects, why not wait until they're older?
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Postby pocketpit » February 24th, 2011, 7:11 pm

I don't keep my dogs intact for "hormonal purposes" in regards to sports. Please also remember that basic personality traits and hormones do not necessarily go hand in hand. A naturally "fiesty" dog is always going to be that way regardless of whether or not it's surgically altered. I do have concerns about growth plate closure and long bone growth. Studies have shown that earlier spaying and neutering affect that. Having worked in the veterinary field for a very long time and also working with rescue animals for almost as long I can say that I can see a huge difference between early spay/neutered animals and those done later in life. There are visible effects on their growth develpment. This is why I chose to have it done later in life. Yes, plenty of intact male dogs end up with protatitis, anal tumors etc. but I have to say that I've seen just as many neutered males with the same issues. Management of my intact males is not an issue so to me so I simply leave them intact. My Dobe had to remain intact for sport work, those are the rules. He's retired now but honestly I don't know that I want to put him through the surgery. It is harder on older animals many times and I still have not made up my mind whether or not I want to have him collected so I haven't done it. Our other intact male is our Presa Canario. He came to us as an intact adult male and he has huge testicles. He'd need a scrotal ablation surgery along with his neuter and again I'm not willing to risk all the surgical complictaions that could occur.
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Postby airwalk » February 24th, 2011, 10:36 pm

I have done both, early and late. My experience is the recovery period for older is much longer and more difficult and risks are greater. Younger neuters tend to come home and wonder why they had to spend the day at the vet.

In the shelter we s/n as soon as we are able.
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Postby mnp13 » February 25th, 2011, 12:08 am

Riggs is going to be ten in a few months and is intact. Last summer he began to have problems peeing because of his prostate. We are supplementing with nettle now and it has made a huge difference.

Riggs does not mark, Connor does- Connor was neutered around a year old or so. ( we think, the starvation makes it hard to tell)

Honestly, I'd have left him intact if I knew the kind of dog he was going to be. Between the two boys, there is no question who is breed worthy.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 25th, 2011, 8:52 am

mnp13 wrote:Riggs is going to be ten in a few months and is intact. Last summer he began to have problems peeing because of his prostate. We are supplementing with nettle now and it has made a huge difference.

Riggs does not mark, Connor does- Connor was neutered around a year old or so. ( we think, the starvation makes it hard to tell)

Honestly, I'd have left him intact if I knew the kind of dog he was going to be. Between the two boys, there is no question who is breed worthy.


So did you keep him intact for breeding reasons, not health reasons, correct?
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Postby mnp13 » February 25th, 2011, 10:50 am

I left him intact so I could show and title him. After that, I didn't see a need to put an eight year old dog in surgery for no real reason. Now that his prostate is causing problems we may have it done but I'm not sure.

I have thought about breeding him, but considering what my criteria for breeding is it's never gonna happen.
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Postby amalie79 » February 25th, 2011, 1:08 pm

mnp13 wrote:Riggs is going to be ten in a few months and is intact. Last summer he began to have problems peeing because of his prostate. We are supplementing with nettle now and it has made a huge difference.

Riggs does not mark, Connor does- Connor was neutered around a year old or so. ( we think, the starvation makes it hard to tell)

Honestly, I'd have left him intact if I knew the kind of dog he was going to be. Between the two boys, there is no question who is breed worthy.


Simon wasn't neutered until he was probably 12 years old. He'd had aggression issues, and the vet recommended it for lowering his testosterone and for any health benefits that might still be garnered. If I'd known then what I know now, I'm not sure I'd have done it (I probably WOULD have done it earlier, but not at 12). It did help with the humping lady love, though.

What kind of prostate problems does Riggs have, if you don't mind my asking? Simon leaks and has persistent infections. This may be related to his terrible dental health, not much of which can be corrected now at 16-- he can't go under anesthesia at this point-- or it could be due to the late neuter. How much nettle are you using? Is it a tincture or powder? I was going to ask this in a PM, but it occurred to me that it could be related to the late neuter and was still sort of on topic...
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