I am publishing this blog in memory of my dog, Pepe (pictured below). Pepe’s passing, at 5 years of age from Cushing’s disease, motivated me to start this site, and to learn more about the long-term welfare of our beloved pets…
Speaking for Pepe…
Warning : Controversial content
What you're about to read is life-saving Information
What if large-scale studies found evidence that early sterilization, a procedure we’ve historically viewed as life-saving, is the common denominator for development of several debilitating and life-threatening canine diseases? Yes, Early neutering has likely played a role in harming the health of some of the very animals we set out to protect. Early sterilization jeopardizes the health of our pet dogs and may open them to immunologic, orthopedic, behavioral, and oncologic issues.
I cringe at the early age many puppies get spay and neuter! It distresses me to see the trend of pediatric castration being promoted as the “latest and greatest in responsible pet ownership”! I do believe that hormones are there for more than reproduction reasons…
My beloved Pom, Pepe, was neutered too early… At the time I didn’t know many of the problems vets are treating today can be traced back to the pets being surgically neutered or desexed before puberty. After lots of research I learned that many of the reasons given for this surgery are not based on science or on the long-term welfare of our beloved pets. Neutered dogs are at a significantly higher risk of developing Metabolic & Hormonal (Endocrine) disorders than those that are not. Addison’s Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism) Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism).
Check out Dr. Karen Becker: The Truth About Spaying and Neutering …
Pepe, passed from Cushing’s disease at age 5! I followed a holistic approach to his care and diet... He was on a balanced natural raw species appropriate diet, and was not over-vaccinated (over vaccination in dogs is a leading risk for cancer and other common debilitating diseases). Pepe was a healthy, beautiful dog. At age 4, first clinical sign of Cushing’s manifested: Increased panting. The vets checked for everything except for Cushing’s. I took him to 2 vets and never got the correct diagnosis!
By the time Pepe was diagnosed, at age 5, he had other symptoms, PU|PD (Polyuria and Polydipsia, or excessive water consumption and urine production respectively), labored breathing, rapid heart beat, and dehydration from the excessive panting. Few days after being diagnosed my baby boy collapsed and died very suddenly… At home with me, while playing with his toys, doing his favorite thing, in his favorite place with his favorite person.
I am not against neutering pets at the right time and for the right reason. Personally, I would not neuter future pets without a compelling medical reason. My new baby Paco will not be neutered. Paco will be the proud father of ‘zero’ puppies though. My family has kept males and females, intact throughout the years, and has never had an “oops” litter. Yes, it requires management. When a female is in heat, you keep her separated from the males. As long as the animal is responsibly kept it won’t be producing “unwanted” puppies. It’s not rocket science!
Understand that there are risks, and be aware of and prepared for those issues should they arise. Understand that there are options… There choices besides castration that would leave the hormones in place, but still eliminate the ability to conceive and produce puppies. If you have a male dog, consider if you really need to have this surgery performed. Ask your vet if vasectomy would be a viable alternative to neutering for your male. This would preserve sex hormones and possibly prevent some of the adverse health effects of castration.
There are actually three different surgeries which can render a female dog sterile:
- Spaying, also known as ovariohysterectomy
- Hysterectomy in which only the uterus is removed
- Tubal ligation
Tubal ligation/vasectomy surgeries are far less invasive for the animal and in theory less costly for the pet owner, yet none of our Veterinary Teaching hospitals in the U.S. are teaching these techniques. Vasectomy and tubal ligation are certainly not more difficult operations than castration and spaying. Canine vasectomy and tubal ligation can be done as early as 6-8 weeks of age. Incision and scarring is minimal. There is no special post operative care required. Laparascopic spay is a fairly new procedure and another option. Perhaps as these procedures become more demanded by the public, they will be more accessible and cost-effective.
Another alternative for male dogs is nonsurgical neutering with a procedure called Zeutering. Zeutering produces sterility with only an approximate 50% drop in testosterone levels (this accomplishes sterility with only partial reduction of testosterone levels). Zeuterin™, is the only FDA-approved non-surgical sterilization product in the United States. The procedure is simpler than castration, with fewer complications and does not involve the use of a general anesthesia. In addition, there are not sutures, no bleeding, and no pets have died from being zeutered. In order for a veterinarian to become certified to perform Zeutering “they must” perform three neuters using Zeuterin under the watchful eye of a trainer. Contact Ark Sciences to see who is certified in your community. It’s important to understand the potential risks and benefits of this method of sterilizing male dogs though. As with any medical intervention, safety and effectiveness depend upon proper administration. You can read more about Zeuterin™ on the Ark Sciences FAQ page.
And BTW, how about preventing unwanted litters the old way? GOOD OL TOOLS such as "doors" & "leashes" instead of SEXUAL MUTILATION!
Pet owners spay or neuter not only for birth control, but also for reasons of “convenience” and to reduce or eliminate certain future health concerns.
Spaying of female dogs eliminates the inconvenience and hygiene challenges associated with heat cycles. Spaying also removes the potential for false pregnancies and life-threatening uterine infections (called pyometras), and reduces the risk of estrogen-related mammary cancer and tumors of the reproductive tract.
A neutered male dog is less apt to roam or mark his territory. He also shows less interest in female dogs in heat. You don’t have to worry that your spayed dog will try to escape your home in order to mate, and you don’t have to concern yourself with male dogs around your female. Neutering also removes the risk of testicular tumors, perineal hernias and enlarged prostate glands.
On the other hand, There is a lot of evidence to support the logical claim that your pets may actually be healthier if left intact. If normal adolescent mounting behavior embarrasses you, remember it will pass + you can control this behavior with training! Sterilization of males may reduce some unwanted sexual behaviors, but there are few other proven benefits to neutering a male dog. If you decide you must neuter your male dog, do not do it until well into their second year. It is important for your pet’s long term health that sex hormones flow in its body for at least a while before neutering. Sexual maturation is imperative for bone, brain and organ development. So, allow your pet to reach full maturation and reach adulthood before considering surgery…
There is unquestioned benefit to spay and castration… But it may be a human benefit rather than of any “tangible” benefit to our canine companions
The simple truth is there is no medical reason to remove reproductive organs from healthy animals; not in veterinary medicine nor in human medicine. And the ugly truth is that spay/neuter is as “profitable” as treating the health problems castrated and spayed dogs develop… + spay/neuter is very “convenient” for the pet owner.
Consequences of Spaying/Neutering for our canine companions
Many early neutered dogs are overgrown, light on muscle, and have a high pitched voice, while their intact siblings are ripped with solid muscle and have a DOG’s voice, not the voice of a castrato. These negative developmental anatomy effects (longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrower chests and narrower skulls) are swept under the rug, and so are the effects of neutering on the incidence of behavioral issues. Studies have found that dogs neutered at or before 6 months of age were at greater risk for developing a variety of behavioral issues including: separation anxiety, submissive urination, aggression, fear of noises, fear of gunfire, excitability, hyperactivity, timidity, and fear biting.
Check out a study that included thousands of dogs and refutes the concept of “dogs that are fixed have better behavior”
Now, what about health related issues? Spay-neuter before 1year of age significantly increases the development of the following diseases:
Hypothyroidism – Hypothyroidism is much more common disease in dogs than cats. Desexed (castrated or spayed) dogs are at a significantly higher risk of developing this condition than those that are not.
Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) – Bone tumors are most frequently in large and giant breeds of dogs that are already predisposed to them through their excessive bone growth. Dexesing (spay-neuter) before one year of age significantly increases the development of these tumors.
Hemangiosarcomas – A cancerous disease arising from cells that line blood vessels. This form of cancer is most common in dogs. Statistically, it occurs considerably more frequently in neutered and spayed dogs.
Lymphosarcoma – A cancerous disease arising from a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes (lymphosarcoma). Higher incidence of lymphosarcoma is found in neutered dogs compared to those left sexually intact. Lymphosarcoma has a particularly high occurrence rate in Golden Retrievers.
Mast cell tumors – A cancerous disease arising from mast cells which are a normal component of a healthy immune system and are responsible for allergic reactions in the body.
Other types of cancer – 5.0 times higher incidence in desexed male and female dogs. The younger a dog was at the time of neutering the younger the age of the dog at the time the cancer was diagnosed. Contrary to popular belief, studies show that the risk of prostate cancer is actually HIGHER in neutered dogs than in their intact counterparts. Yes, neutering prevents testicular cancer, but the actual risk of that cancer is extremely low (<1%) among intact dogs. Testicular cancer rate is so low that there are not even any statistics on it!
On the other hand, Breast cancer in females is very survivable. The cancers developing because of early spay/neuter (osteosarcoma, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma) are deadly and the survivability of them is not guaranteed for any length of time.
Distorted Bone Structure – Early-age desexing contributes to a number of diseases – Dexexing before puberty causes the bones to grow for a longer period and to different proportions. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered at or before puberty can often be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrower chests and narrower skulls than intact dogs of the same breed. This differential growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others.
This results in your pet becoming taller with abnormally shaped bones and ligaments that are more likely to fail. These risks include an increased incidence of cranial cruciate ligament tears. Your dog’s knees are particularly at risk.
Hip Dysplasia – Many dogs that are desexed young are prone to develop hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia: Instability and subsequent development of arthritis within the hip joints
Weakened Ligaments, Orthopedic Disorders And Subsequent Arthritis – Torn ligaments, hip problems and arthritis occur due to obesity and inactivity of many neutered pets. Decrease in joint strength and altered bone structure also accompanies neutering. All these problems increase in frequency in Neutered and spayed pets.
Cruciate Ligament tears – Spayed and neutered dogs have a significantly higher incidence of this disease: Tearing of the major ligament that provides stability to the knee joint
Obesity – Neutered and spayed pets tend to get fatter than those that remain intact. There is no denying this. That risk is increased when they are desexed as juveniles.
Urinary Tract Problems – Veterinarians have noticed that it is spayed, overweight, female dogs that suffer the most urinary tract problems:
- Urinary Tract Infections – These too are more common in spayed female dogs. Neutered dogs tend to be overweight which may account for their increased risk.
- Urinary Incontinence – This is primarily a problem in desexed female dogs. Many of these dogs get better when given female hormone – the ones no longer present after spay.
- Besides bladder issues, urinary tract infections and urinary Incontinence (so common it’s called “spay incontinence”), other hysterectomy risks in female dogs are: Intervertebral Disk Disease, Myasthenia Gravis, Muscle Weakness, and a doubled risk of Splenic Hemangiosarcoma.
Diabetes – 60% of pets in the U.S. are overweight/obese. Neutered and spayed pets tend to get fat and there seems to be a link between obesity and diabetes. The relationship between missing sex hormones, diabetes, obesity, and bone strength is more studied in humans. But there is no reason to assume it would differ significantly in our dogs and cats.
The rates of occurrence for all of these diseases were significantly higher in both males and females who were neutered either early on or later in life, compared to dogs remaining sexually intact.
Check out this video and learn WHY Canine Hormone Support is crucial for Neutered and spayed dogs…
“Most vets are clueless and do this routinely, just as I used to do before my striking reality check. After discovering the truth, I went on a mission to figure out how to ease the bizarre hormonal damage and help normalize these precious animals. Here’s the result of my search”—- Dr. Karen Becker
The Great Spay-neuter fallacy
There is an alliance of powerful organizations with shared agendas and mutual self-interest, similar in many aspects to the vaccination coalition, that heavily promote pet desexing. These organizations are advocates of early spay/neuter and tell pet owners that their pets will live longer if they are desexed (but mention nothing about the negative aspects of this procedure on your pet’s health). Many studies indicate the opposite is true. In a 2009 study, un-neutered female rottweilers lived an average of 30% longer than a similar number of rottweilers spayed in their first 4 years of life. the female Rotties that kept their ovaries the longest were nine times more likely to achieve exceptional longevity (13+ years). The study results indicate removal of a dog’s ovaries significantly increases the risk for a major lethal disease.
Several studies have documented the adverse affects on the development of both male and female dogs resulting from spay & neuter. The American Veterinary Medical Association official policy now states “Mandatory spay-neuter is a bad idea.” “… potential health problems associated with sterilization have been identified, including increased incidences of hypothyroidism, obesity, diabetes, urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections. Also, Increased risks of bone cancer and hip dysplasia in large-breed dogs associated with sterilization before maturity; and Increased risk of prostatic cancer in males” (Reference: AVMA.org). Check it out…
And lastly, sad but true: castrated and spayed dogs still annoy neighbors, stray, hump, or get hit by cars… and the most annoying problem for house dogs is at the top of the list for castrated dogs: Urinary incontinence and uncontrolled elimination will banish a dog to the outdoors and more often than not, to the “shelter… You can cope with normal adolescent mounting behavior, and heat seasons, easier than urinary incontinence, lameness, orthopedic problems, and cancer. Let’s hope there is a faster learning curve regarding factual risks of neutering/castration than there has been with over-vaccination.
Things to Consider Before You spay/neuter Your Dog
Recent studies now confirm that neutering pets before one year of age (or their first heat cycle) can have serious negative affects on their health. You can read those studies here: