Neutering Your Dog – 3 Problems with Neutering Early

With the push from the Humane Society, rescues and dog shelters to neuter as early as possible it may not be politically correct and seems even anti-overpopulation to suggest that we are not doing our dogs right by neutering them, especially when we neuter them early. However with concern for each dog as an individual and taking into account what early neutering does to a dog’s long term health, I will suggest that neutering must be done after a dog is finished growing. There are many problems with early neutering but 3 really stick out as significant health issues that owners should be aware of before they decide to neuter their dogs before their growth plates have closed.

A study from veterinarians at University of California-Davis gives support to being concerned about early neutering.

Golden retriever study suggests neutering affects dog health :: UC 

http://news.ucdavis.eduWed, 13 Feb 2013 22:00:00 GMT

Neutering, and the age at which a dog is neutered, may affect the animal’s risk for developing certain cancers and joint diseases, according to a new study of golden retrievers by a team of.

 

Problem #1 – Increased orthopedic injuries – the growth plates need to have optimal hormonal balance to close properly. Obviously neutering causes an imbalance in the hormonal system by removing a major hormone contributing organ, so the growth plates do not close and allows the long bones of the legs to grow longer. On average dogs that are neutered early will grow longer and taller. Growing longer and taller changes the biomechanics and movement of the dog and places extra stress on tendons, ligaments and muscles. This may explain the increased incidence of cruciate ruptures in dogs that are neutered early.

Problem #2 – Increased arthritis – the changes in biomechanics and stress on the tendons, ligaments and muscles will also increase stress on the action of the dogs joints thus increasing the incidence of joint osteoarthritis. Another contributing factor could also be the average increased weight in neutered dogs placing increased stress on joints as well. The UC-Davis study found an increased incidence of hip dysplasia in male dogs neutered before a year of age doubled that of the of dogs neutered after a year of age and non-neutered dogs.

Problem #3 – Increased incidence of certain cancers – Cancer is difficult because there are so many contributing factors but hormones play a large part. Dogs that are neutered late have higher incidences of mammary tumors, mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma in females. However early neutering has increased incidence of osteosarcomas and lymphosarcoma. These incidences are greater than in non neutered dogs.

You are your dog’s advocate but you are also responsible for your dog and if you choose not to neuter your dog or to wait to neuter your dog. It is your responsibility to keep him/her safeguarded against accidental breedings and contributing to the overpopulation problem. With research and information becoming more apparent that early neutering is not ideal for the health of your dog, it is important to be proactive in the health of your dog and choose the time of neutering your pet wisely.

  • Kimberly Morris Gauthier

    Good information to know. We have three dogs. Sydney and Rodrigo had their surgery at 6 months; we adopted Blue at 4 months and he had already had his surgery. We have him on joint care now to protect his body :)

    I expected to read that dogs didn’t grow as much, explaining his small stature compared to our other dogs. It must just be his breed mix.

  • BigWhiteDog

    keep in mind that the UCD study is of one breed and ALL the dogs were already patients of the hospital there and therefor had pre-existing conditions. It was not an optimal study.

    Since there is no way to guarantee that buyers of puppies and adopters of rescues will be ethical and/or responsible, early SN is pretty much the only option.