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

Red Cross and Penn veterinary school develop pet first aid app

Animal Health AppUniversity of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine veterinarian Deborah C. Mandell collaborated with the Red Cross to create a first aid application for pet owners to use during animal health emergencies. Dr. Mandell has written books on animal medical emergencies but says the app includes just the right amount of information for owners during an emergency. The app, available for 99 cents, separates cat and dog information, and it also helps owners find the nearest veterinarian or pet-friendly hotel.
By Robert Moran, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Is your cat breathing normally?

There’s an app for that – for knowing what’s normal, that is.

Is your dog not breathing?

Hopefully you will have watched the dog CPR video on the American Red Cross’ new mobile app called “Pet First Aid.”

The app, available for 99 cents on Apple and Android mobile devices, went on sale in December, but the Red Cross launched its awareness campaign on Thursday in Philadelphia.

The Philly connection comes from the humanitarian agency’s collaboration with University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Since 2006, Deborah C. Mandell, a staff veterinarian and adjunct associate professor at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has served as a pet care advisor to the Red Cross, writing separate books on first aid for cats and dogs, and developing Red Cross instructional courses for pet owners around the country.

Mandell said the app gives users information “right at your fingertips when you need it,” such as knowing “what’s normal so they can know what’s abnormal much sooner.”

For anybody who wants in-depth information about pet first aid, however, “the app is certainly not a replacement for our first aid books,” Mandell said.

Several pet first aid apps have been available since 2009, when Jive Media launched an app.

Red Cross officials said its organization’s reputation, and its association with Penn Vet, should be an advantage in the marketplace.

Unlike the Jive Media app, which costs $3.99 and hasn’t been updated since 2010, the Red Cross app separates information about cats and dogs

“You could look at it as two apps in one,” said Paul Munn, who helped develop the app for the Red Cross.

The app also uses GPS to locate the nearest veterinary hospital or pet-friendly hotel during emergencies.

Users can enter information about their pets that can be stored in app and emailed to a veterinarian ahead of a visit.

There also are quizzes to test if users remember what they’ve learned.

“They’ve done an excellent job,” said Mary Kury, a certified veterinary technician supervisor at the Quakertown Veterinary Clinic, who downloaded the app this week.

“They went through the most common emergencies we see on a daily basis,” Kury said.

She also praised the app for providing “enough information without giving too much information,” so a pet owner is not overwhelmed or confused.

The Red Cross has been offering apps since June 2012, when it launched its first aid app for humans, and has tallied 3.9 million downloads for all its mobile apps.

They also have been offered for free.

Don Lauritzen, a Red Cross spokesman in Washington, said the pet app was a bit outside the main mission of the organization.

The Red Cross decided users would feel that 99 cents is worth the cost for the specialized information and peace of mind, Lauritzen said.




Neutering drug could be approved this year

The FDA is expected later this year to approve the use of a drug called Zeuterin that provides a nonsurgical alternative to neutering male dogs. It is hoped that the less invasive method will help curb pet overpopulation.   zeuterinAnnArbor.com (Mich.)

By Lorrie Shaw AnnArbor.com Community Contributor

As someone who is as immersed in the world of animals as I am, one topic — pet overpopulation — is something that comes up multiple times per day in conversation, especially on social media. And it’s no wonder: animal rescues and humane societies are inundated with dogs and cats who need permanent homes. Although the numbers of those waiting to be adopted are not limited to young animals, the litters of puppies and kittens that are seen are certainly a stark reminder of how much work needs to be done when it comes to getting pet populations under control.

Some sad realities come to mind when I think of the problem of pet homelessness and overpopulation, like the needless suffering of many degrees and instances of euthanasia that are, in some situations, the only solution.

Educating the public about the problem is paramount: humans are the ones who have the ability to discern where the problems lie, and where the best solutions are.

First, understand that from a biological standpoint, we are in a battle with pets.

Reproductive success drives evolution, pure and simple. It’s the strongest biological factor in any species. Biology has a way of taking over, jumping any hurdle that is put in its path and compensating. The pets themselves have no control over their biological drives, and therefore can’t curb their behavior when it comes reproducing.

That’s why spaying and neutering have been the go-to tactic to making an effort to getting pet overpopulation under control. It’s safe, effective and, best of all, it’s permanent.

In 1972, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals made a policy decision that rocked the boat: from then on, every animal adopted from their shelters had to be spayed or neutered — a real shift in forward thinking.

Now, this policy is standard when adopting from most any shelter or rescue.

But is the message of how easy and effective spay and neuter procedures are  getting through to the public-at-large? That’s a good question. Here we are four decades later, and we’re still battling stereotypes and biology.

Some people cite the cost of the procedure as something that stands in the way of their scheduling the procedure. (It’s actually pretty affordable.) Perhaps the misconceptions surrounding the idea of neutering that keep people from having it done. (‘It’s emasculating!’)

A new frontier of pet sterilization — the non-surgical route — just might get people to rethink the issue.

Last year, I wrote about one new drug, Esterilsol, (as it’s known outside of the United States), and how it was being tested for approval by the Food and Drug Administration in countries like Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

The good news is that the drug is expected to have full approval for use by the midpoint of 2013 here in the U.S. as a non-surgical option for neutering dogs.

Known as Zeuterin in the U.S., the drug is a safer, faster and much less invasive way to sterilize male dogs age three to ten months.

It works like this: Zeuterin (a solution of zinc gluconate; zinc is a natural spermicide) is injected into each testicle — leaving it incapable of producing sperm.

No anesthesia is needed, and the procedure is much easier, compared to the traditional surgical option. For these reasons alone, zinc neutering could be a boon to shelters.

Canines who have been Zeutered have a microchip implanted or are tattooed with  the letter “z”.

One drawback to surgical neutering is that it involves eliminating the source of testosterone production, therefore leaving the animal no benefits of what the hormone offers — like protecting metabolic functions. With Zeuterin, testosterone is only lowered by about half.

The surgical option has been long-touted as a way to reduce mating behaviors and to calm male dogs down. Feedback given by owners and custodians of dogs who have been sterilized with Zeuterin indicate that the same behaviors have been suppressed.

For more on zinc neutering, click here to read Dr. Marty Becker’s recent piece on VetStreet.