Spaying Early or Spaying Late, Which is Best for your Dog?
Spaying and neutering your pet nowadays seems to be common sense. With overpopulation and the many benefits of an early spay/neuter advertised it seems like getting it over with as soon as possible might be a good idea. Less people know though, that despite all the positive effects, there are some negative effects to spaying/ neutering early, especially if you are planning on using your dog in a performance sport such as agility.
The most obvious reason to spay your pet is to prevent unwanted puppies. There are so many homeless pets in the world that adding more, whether by accident or for profit is definitely not a good thing. But the second consideration is your pet’s health. ASPCA.org states, “Spayed dogs are less likely to develop breast cancer and will not be at risk for ovarian or uterine tumors. Neutered male dogs will not get testicular cancer and they will have a decreased chance of developing prostate enlargement.” Studies have shown that spaying and neutering your pets can prevent certain illnesses. But there are new studies who have looked at other aspects of the spay /neuter effect and they have found that other cancer’s have their chances increased by spaying too early. Some results from these studies showed that dogs that were spayed/neutered before they hit puberty had:
- 5 times greater risk of getting hemangiosarcoma* than intact females
- 2.4 times greater risk of getting hemangiosarcoma than intact males
- 2 times greater risk of bone cancer in male dogs (if neutered before age 1)
- A higher risk of unfavorable reactions to vaccines
- A elevated chance of urethral sphincter incontinence in males or urinary incontinence in females
- And an increased chance of getting hypothyroidism**
So despite what VeterinaryPracticeNews.com says is a 30 year campaign, the common understanding of spay and neuter practices might not be so cut and dry. The performance dog focused findings are centered on how dogs grow based on the stage in their life that they are sterilized. It was found that dogs neutered/spayed around their 7th week of life were found to be much taller, with narrower chests, lighter bone structures and slimmer skulls. Hormones produced in a dog’s body cause the growth plates to close, which happens at puberty, but if it is spayed before puberty then the bones continue to grow. Chris Zink DVM from CanineSports.com writes, “For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle.” This in turn would make the tibia longer and heavier than normal which stresses the ligaments. Alice Villalobos, DVM, comments on Zink’s article by saying, “…the structural and physiological differences in dogs neutered early may be the reason veterinarians are seeing a higher incidence of orthopedic disease such as CCL rupture*** and hip dysplasia than in dogs neutered after 5 1⁄2 months of age.”
While both early neuter and a delayed neuter both have pros and cons, you have to decide what is best for your pet. If you aren’t an avid dog sport enthusiast, then you may go for convenience and get your dog spayed early so you don’t have to worry about possible litters or the roaming and marking that intact dogs have a tendency for. But if you have a dog whose body needs to perform a certain way for an intense sport, then perhaps waiting to spay is the better option, as long as you are carefully keeping your dog away from puppy-making activities. Whichever you decide, it’s just important that you have all the facts so you can make the best decision regarding the health of your beloved animal.
Hemangiosarcoma* is a rare form of cancer that is very aggressive and usually attacks the spleen and the heart.
Hypothyroidism** is a condition in which not enough hormones are produced by the thyroid gland. Weight gain, hair loss and skin issues are common symptoms.
CCL Rupture*** stands for Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture, which is the tearing of an important ligament in the stifle joint (knee), resulting in partial or complete joint instability, pain, and lameness.
Adding a little pep to your step!
Winter weight isn’t something that creeps up on us; it can creep up on our furry little friends too. With May just around the corner, spring time is a wonderful time to get outside with your dog! Begin power walking short distances with your pooch, which will help to increase their metabolism. It’s easier to get in two twenty minutes walks rather than trying to get one forty minute walk.
If you’re feeling even more ambitious after walking a couple times a day, you could even train for a 5k! Cool Running offers a great Couch-to-5k running program for those of us who have never ran in our lives or never thought we would.
Here is a snippet of their workout program:
“Each session should take about 20 or 30 minutes, three times a week. That just happens to be the same amount of moderate exercise recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness. This program will get you fit. (Runners who do more than this amount are doing it for more than fitness, and before long you might find yourself doing the same as well).
Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don’t worry about how fast you’re going. Running faster can wait until your bones are stronger and your body is fitter. For now focus on gradually increasing the time or distance you run.”
You can find more information about their great program at: http://www.coolrunning.com.
Not only will this increase your activity level, but it will increase your dogs as well. We have compiled a list of upcoming dog-friendly 5k races between May and August.:
Rolo Dog Walk
Featuring a 5K run or walk with special water and snack stations set up for your dog along the course.
Dog Day 5K
Featuring a 5k run or walk, timed for accuracy. A celebration of fido in downtown Minneapolis.
Claws and Paws
Featuring a 2 mile walk/run benefitting the Guardians For Animals, an organization dedicated to raising funds for no-kill animal shelters. Paired with a Pet Care Fair and adoption opportunities, there is plenty to do after your run.
Doggie Dash 2011
Now entering its 22nd year, this 1.5-mile run is one of Portland’s most popular events for dog lovers.
Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue 5K
Featuring a 5K run benefiting the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue. Tons of giveaways post-race, and an opportunity to learn more about fostering dogs in need.
Hair of the Dog 5K
Proceeds benefit the pets of the Tri State Weimaraner Rescue and Res-Q-Pets Animal Rescue. Wine, beer, music, great food, prizes/giveaways, pet rescues and vendors and more!
5K Fun Run
Featuring a 5K run benefiting the H.A.L.T. Rescue. Donate a bag of dog food for the shelter and enter into a raffle for goodies for you and your pooch.
Montana Made Run
Featuring a 5K/10K race that is dog-friendly and leash-mandatory.
The Fast & the Furriest
Featuring a 5K/10K run and 1 mile walk benefiting the Animal Services Center. Race courses are USATF certified.
Dog Day 5k
Set in downtown Minneapolis on the Stone Arch Bridge, the Dog Day 5K is sure to be one of the highlights of summer for you and your furry friend.
5-K9 Fun Run
Park City, UT
Featuring a 5K run and 1K walk benefiting Friends of Animals Utah. A tech shirt for you, a doggie bandana for your pooch, plus human age group awards.
JULY 16 and 17
The Deschutes Dash Presented by REI
This weekend multi-sports festival features a Ruff Wear Doggy Dash 5K run.
Run for the Red
Featuring a dog-friendly 1 mile/5K/10K benefiting the American Red Cross, Highland Chapter. Join the largest road race in Fayetteville, home of the Fort Bragg Army base.
New York City, NY
Featuring a 5 mile run. All dogs are given a medical examination for good health by on-site vets prior to race start.
The Amazing New York Race
New York City, NY
A series of clues leads you and your pup around the Central Park, performing physical and mental challenges along the way.
The Benefits of Pumpkin
Pumpkin isn’t just for fall! It’s a year around treat that is an excellent addition to your dog’s diet. For example, adding pumpkin puree provides Vitamin A, potassium and fiber. Not only does pumpkin help your dog’s immune system but it helps with digestion as well.
Pumpkin is a great, natural stool softener. If your dog is suffering with constipation, start with 1tsp. for small dogs and 2 tsp for larger dogs of pumpkin puree (be sure it’s NOT the pumpkin pie filling). Within a couple of hours, your dog should experience some relief. On the flip side, pumpkin can also be used to treat diarrhea as well. The soluble fiber in pumpkin can help to absorb the excess water in the bowels that may have not been absorbed properly. We should mention that any digestive issues can be serious and require immediate veterinary care. Remember that whatever the cause, diarrhea or constipation that lasts more than 24-26 hours will require veterinary care.
More Information can also be found here: