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When Should You Neuter Your Dog?

The below article is from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.  There are many opinions about when to neuter your dog, so be sure to do your due diligence and speak with your veterinarian prior to making any decision for your pup.

 

When Should You Neuter Your Dog to Avoid Health Risks?

Comprehensive Study Lays Out Guidelines for 35 Dog Breeds

golden retriever puppy
A 10-year study lays out guidelines for pet owners and veterinarians for each of 35 dog breeds to assist in making a neutering decision. (Getty)

Some dog breeds have higher risk of developing certain cancers and joint disorders if neutered or spayed within their first year of life. Until now, studies had only assessed that risk in a few breeds. A new, 10-year study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, examined 35 dog breeds and found vulnerability from neutering varies greatly depending on the breed. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

“There is a huge disparity among different breeds,” said lead author Benjamin Hart, distinguished professor emeritus at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Hart said there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to health risks and the age at which a dog is neutered. “Some breeds developed problems, others didn’t. Some may have developed joint disorders but not cancer or the other way around.”

Researchers analyzed 15 years of data from thousands of dogs examined each year at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital to try to understand whether neutering, the age of neutering, or differences in sex when neutered affect certain cancers and joint disorders across breeds. The joint disorders examined include hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tears and elbow dysplasia. Cancers examined include lymphoma; hemangiosarcoma, or cancer of the blood vessel walls; mast cell tumors; and osteosarcoma, or bone cancer.

In most breeds examined, the risk of developing problems was not affected by age of neutering.

Breed differences by size and sex

Researchers found that vulnerability to joint disorders was related to body size.

“The smaller breeds don’t have these problems, while a majority of the larger breeds tend to have joint disorders,” said co-author Lynette Hart, professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

One of the surprising exceptions to this was among the two giant breeds — great Danes and Irish wolfhounds — which showed no increased risk to joint disorders when neutered at any age.

Researchers also found the occurrence of cancers in smaller dogs was low, whether neutered or kept intact. In two breeds of smaller dogs, the Boston terrier and the shih tzu, there was a significant increase in cancers with neutering.

Another important finding was that the sex of the dog sometimes made a difference in health risks when neutered. Female Boston terriers neutered at the standard six months of age, for example, had no increased risk of joint disorders or cancers compared with intact dogs, but male Boston terriers neutered before a year of age had significantly increased risks.

Previous studies have found that neutering or spaying female golden retrievers at any age increases the risk of one or more of the cancers from 5 percent to up to 15 percent.

Discuss choices with veterinarians

Dog owners in the United States are overwhelmingly choosing to neuter their dogs, in large part to prevent pet overpopulation, euthanasia or reduce shelter intake. In the U.S., surgical neutering is usually carried out by six months of age.

This study suggests that dog owners should carefully consider when and if they should have their dog neutered.

“We think it’s the decision of the pet owner, in consultation with their veterinarian, not society’s expectations that should dictate when to neuter,” said Benjamin Hart. “This is a paradigm shift for the most commonly performed operation in veterinary practice.”

The study lays out guidelines for pet owners and veterinarians for each of 35 breeds to assist in making a neutering decision. Read the full list here.

Other authors include Abigail Thigpen with UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and Neil Willits with the Department of Statistics in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science. Research support came from the Canine Health Foundation, the UC Davis Center for Companion Animal Health and Versatility in Poodles.

Media Resources

Benjamin Hart, School of Veterinary Medicine, blhart@ucdavis.edu

Lynette Hart, School of Veterinary Medicine, lahart@ucdavis.edu

Amy Quinton, News and Media Relations, 530-752-9843, amquinton@ucdavis.edu

Using Kinesiology Tape On Your Dog

FROM THE WHOLE DOG JOURNAL

READ WHOLE ARTICLE

Proponents say that kinesiology tape can help your dog recover from chronic and acute sports injuries. It’s not expensive to give it a try, so why not learn how?

Although there is lack of evidence, veterinarians, canine rehabilitation therapists, and canine massage therapists who routinely use kinesiology tape report that many of their patients improve as a result. Taping is easily incorporated into other hands-on treatments, most dogs quickly adapt to it, and it can be done at home by family members between treatment visits.

Avoid These Common Collar Dangers

FROM THE WHOLE DOG JOURNAL

Even the best collars have the potential to cause harm to your dog if not used wisely. Here are some tips and cautions for proper, safe collar use:

Don’t Leave Collars on Unattended Dogs. Any collar left on an unattended dog has the potential to catch on something and hang the dog. In fact, some agility and barn hunt venues don’t allow dogs to wear collars while they are running the course, for fear that the collar could get caught on something. It is also possible for a dog to get her lower jaw caught in the collar.

While hanging potential is greatest with a choke collar (yes, this sadly happened to a St. Bernard of mine when I was young and too dumb to know better), it can also happen with regular flat collars. I do leave flat collars on my dogs – the tradeoff is that if you remove collars, your dog has no visible identification and may be harder to capture if she does somehow escape. You have to decide what hazard is a more likely threat to your dog’s safety.

Don’t Leave Collars on Playing Dogs. Dogs who are playing together can get tangled in each other’s collars, especially if they engage in mouthy play. This, also, happened to one of my dogs: while Darby and Keli were playing, Keli got her jaw caught under Darby’s collar and then spun around, twisting the collar so that Darby was being choked. Fortunately, I was able to pick up Keli and un-spin her, releasing the tension on the collar and allowing the dogs to separate. Neither dog was harmed – but it could have been significantly worse. Dogs have broken their jaws, and others have choked to death in this way.
If you feel you must leave a collar on your dog when he’s playing with other dogs – say, at a dog park – make sure it has a quick-release buckle, or better yet is a safety or breakaway collar, which will release under pressure.

Watch Out for Tags on Collars. Dangling tags can catch on crate wires and heater vents. You can tape tags to the collar so they don’t dangle, or look for a dog tag “pocket” that holds the tags flat against the collar. Slide-on ID tags are available from a variety of sources. Alternatively, you can use a collar with your number stitched on it, or use a light-weight ring for the tags that will bend and release under pressure.

If you need help deciding what’s best for you and your dog, our newly updated ebook Guide to Collars, Leashes, And Harnesses can guide you in making collar decisions that are compatible with your training goals and philosophy.

 

The Endearing Canine Head Tilt May Indicate Focus

Dogs that tilt their head to one side as they look at a human are charming, but the gesture may actually be a sign that they are concentrating. As researchers studied a group of “gifted” border collies that can memorize multiple toy names, they noted the skill correlated with a tendency to tilt their head, and the dogs also had a preferred side, just as most humans prefer to use the left or right hand.

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Dogs that tilt their head to one side as they look at a human are charming, but the gesture may actually be a sign that they are concentrating. As researchers studied a group of “gifted” border collies that can memorize multiple toy names, they noted the skill correlated with a tendency to tilt their head, and the dogs also had a preferred side, just as most humans prefer to use the left or right hand.

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Deadly Plants for Pets

from Dr. Karen Becker and Health Pets

sago palm

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • The tragic loss of two dogs in South Carolina is a grim reminder that now that warmer weather is here, it’s important to guard against the potential pet-related hazards posed by both outdoor and indoor plants
  • Common outdoor plants that cause poisoning in dogs and cats include the sago palm, lilies, plants containing cardiac glycosides, and blue-green algae
  • Indoors, common toxic plants include plants from the Araceae family, plants containing either soluble or insoluble calcium oxalates, kalanchoe, the corn plant/dragon tree, and spring flower bulbs
  • If you suspect or know your pet has sampled a potentially poisonous plant, err on the side of caution by calling your vet, the local emergency animal hospital or a 24/7 pet poison hotline

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