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The Risks of Early Spay and Neuter in Dogs: What Every Owner Should Know
Apr 13, 2023
Spaying and neutering dogs is a common practice among pet owners, with many benefits including preventing unwanted litters, reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, and decreasing the likelihood of behavioral problems. However, it's important to know that spaying or neutering your dog too young can have negative consequences for their health and well-being.
Spaying or neutering puppies before they reach sexual maturity, typically between 6 and 12 months of age, has become a widespread practice. While this may seem like a good idea, it can actually be harmful to your dog's long-term health. Here are some of the dangers of spaying or neutering your dog too young:
- Increased risk of orthopedic problems: Research has shown that dogs who are spayed or neutered before they reach sexual maturity have an increased risk of developing certain orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament tears, and patellar luxation. This is because spaying or neutering can cause the bones to grow longer, which can lead to joint instability and an increased risk of injury.
- Increased risk of certain types of cancer: While spaying or neutering can decrease the risk of some types of cancer, such as ovarian and testicular cancer, it can actually increase the risk of other types of cancer, such as bone cancer and bladder cancer.
- Increased risk of behavioral problems: Spaying or neutering before sexual maturity can affect a dog's hormones and behavior, leading to an increased risk of certain behavioral problems, such as fearfulness, aggression, and separation anxiety.
- Delayed physical and emotional development: Spaying or neutering can affect a dog's physical and emotional development. Dogs who are spayed or neutered too young may have delayed physical development, such as stunted growth and muscle development. They may also have delayed emotional development, such as a lack of confidence and socialization skills.
- Increased risk of urinary incontinence: Spaying female dogs before sexual maturity can increase their risk of developing urinary incontinence, which can be a difficult and costly problem to manage.
In conclusion, while spaying or neutering your dog is an important part of responsible pet ownership, it's crucial to wait until your dog has reached sexual maturity before proceeding with the procedure. By waiting until your dog is fully developed, you can help ensure their long-term health and well-being. If you have any concerns about spaying or neutering your dog, it's important to discuss them with your veterinarian.
For more information, please see our sources::
- Increased risk of orthopedic problems:
- Hou, Y., Wang, Y., Lu, X., Zhang, X., Zhao, Q., Todhunter, R. J., Zhang, Z., & Xu, X. (2019). Effects of age and sex on the development of hip dysplasia in a population of 48,002 dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 255(11), 1275-1282.
- Slauterbeck, J. R., Pankratz, K., Xu, K. T., Bozeman, S. C., Hardy, D. M., & Schalles, R. R. (2001). Canine ovariohysterectomy and orchiectomy increases the prevalence of ACL injury. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®, 392, 182-187.
- Increased risk of certain types of cancer:
- Cooley, D. M., Beranek, B. C., Schlittler, D. L., Glickman, N. W., & Glickman, L. T. (2002). Endogenous gonadal hormone exposure and bone sarcoma risk. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 11(11), 1434-1440.
- Torres de la Riva, G., Hart, B. L., Farver, T. B., Oberbauer, A. M., Messam, L. L., Willits, N., & Hart, L. A. (2013). Neutering dogs: effects on joint disorders and cancers in golden retrievers. PLoS One, 8(2), e55937.
- Increased risk of behavioral problems:
- Zink, C., & Van Dyke, J. B. (2014). Canine sports medicine and rehabilitation. John Wiley & Sons.
- Neilson, J. C., Eckstein, R. A., & Hart, B. L. (1997). Effects of castration on problem behaviors in male dogs with reference to age and duration of behavior. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 211(2), 180-182.
- Delayed physical and emotional development:
- Salmeri, K. R., Bloomberg, M. S., Scruggs, S. L., Shille, V. M., & Manley, P. A. (1991). Gonadectomy in immature dogs: effects on skeletal, physical, and behavioral development. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 198(7), 1193-1203.
- Duffy, D. L., Hsu, Y., & Serpell, J. A. (2008). Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 114(3-4), 441-460.
- Increased risk of urinary incontinence:
- Reichler, I. M., Hubler, M., & Barth, A. (2007). Neutering in immature dogs: a longitudinal study on urethral sphincter mechanism function. Veterinary Journal, 173(1), 92-97.
Now you know!