In 1969, the first low-cost spay and neuter center opened in Los Angeles, CA. The center’s opening heralded the age of widespread pediatric spay and neutering as an essential component of responsible pet ownership. Since then, concerned veterinarians and pet owners alike have struggled to determine at what age it is safe to spay. For dogs, the ASPCA recognizes that traditionally, six months old is thought to be the safe age.
Where did the six-month recommendation originate? PetMd.com suggests the recommendation arose after World War II, when increasingly affluent American households began spaying and neutering as a means to control litters at home. Americans then, as now, wanted to control animal breeding, but also wanted to make sure that the surgery would be safe for their pets. It turns out the state-of-the-art anesthesia and surgical techniques of the post WWII era necessitated a dog be at least six months of age before undergoing the procedure to ensure the pet may survive the surgery.
While being a responsible pet owner may still mean spaying and neutering your dog, the notion that it is safe for your dog to be spayed at six months has recently come under attack. Three of the most revered voices in the pet health space have chimed in on the problems caused by spaying dogs so young. In 2009, Dr. Waters of the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation at Purdue University published a study revealing that rottweilers spayed after they were 6 years old were 4.6 times as likely to reach 13 years of age as were rottweilers spayed at a younger age. If that were not enough, Dr. Benjamin Hart of U.C. Davis released results of his studies on golden retrievers, labrador retrievers, and German shepherds, detailing that pediatric spaying results in increased incidences of various cancers, ligament ruptures, and double the rate of hip dysplasia.
Perhaps, the most influential voice against spaying at six months comes from the American Kennel Club (AKC), which recently changed its policy on spaying and neutering to suggest delaying the procedure for a healthier dog that may live longer. Specifically, the AKC announced that “These [policy] changes take into account recent scientific studies that find that sterilizing a dog, particularly before it is fully matured, can lead to significant future health issues, including cancer (such as osteosarcoma, hemagiosarcoma, and lymphosarcoma), hip dysplasia, ligament damage, chronic incontinence, and even a shorter lifespan.” The AKC goes on to say that “Recent scientific studies demonstrate that spaying/neutering, particularly before a dog is fully mature, may result in detrimental long-term health impacts.” In other words, the traditional notion that you should spay at six months is no longer safe for your dog.
Wow! This could be good news for your dog, but maybe it is not such good news for you. On the one hand, if you follow the AKC’s policy and delay spaying, then your dog may be healthier and live longer. On the other hand, if you follow the AKC’s policy and delay spaying, then you risk having an unwanted litter of puppies.
The problem may be that most pet parents associate delayed spaying with an unwanted litter. Consequently, while all of us want our pets to be healthy, we have to balance the economic impact on society and our own finances against the health and longevity of our pet loved ones. It may be that the fear of an unwanted litter sits lower on the scales than does the desire to prevent the economic impact that an unplanned litter brings. This could be explain why we continue pediatric spaying, in spite of the new recommendations to delay spaying until the dog reaches relative maturity.
What pet parents need is a way to follow the AKC’s recommendation and avoid an unwanted litter. Without that, the announcements from Purdue University, U.C. Davis and the AKC are in danger of falling on deaf ears. Until a safe and secure method for avoiding accidental and unwanted litters emerges, the unfortunate end result may be that Americans will continue to have less healthy dogs than the rest of the world.
One solution for pet parents that has garnered the attention of Veterinary Practice News, Pet Product News, and the New York Times is the Pet Anti-Breeding System (PABS™) developed by Highly Favored Creations in Shreveport, LA. PABSTM is an all natural, non-invasive, non-chemical, non-surgical, safe and secure system for avoiding unwanted and accidental litters that allows pet owners to securely delay spaying until they decide the time is right. PABS Delay Her Spay harness is essentially a dog chastity belt that protects a female dog from unwanted advances while she is in heat. In the meantime, your dog may be healthier and live longer.
For more information on PABSTM visit www.delayherspay.com or call (877) 224-7706.