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Three Reasons To Reconsider Spay/Neuter

spay neuter dogs cancer behavior

The topic of spay/neuter is emotionally charged for many pet owners. It’s become the “responsible” thing to do and we commonly hear of the benefits of this surgery but rarely the risks. And when savvy pet owners forgo or delay spay/neuter to mitigate that risk, they’re frequently vilified for contributing to the pet over population problem. But decisions made on emotion aren’t usually the best kinds of decisions we can make. So indulge me while I take an objective and scientific look at what’s causing all the fuss. We’ll start with the most recent reason to reconsider spay/neuter.

In February 2014, a study was completed on over 2500 Vizsla dogs and the results were a blow to those who vehemently defend spay/neuter. But this latest study is just the most recent of a long line of work showing that removing a quarter of the dog’s endocrine system might not be in the dog’s best interest – and maybe not even in the best interests of rescues and shelters. Let’s look at what this research shows as the three most important reasons you should reconsider spay/neuter.

Spay/Neuter and Joint Disease

We’ll get to the Vizsla study that I mentioned later. They didn’t investigate the link between spay/neuter and joint disease, but they didn’t really need to - there was already plenty of research showing the link.

Hip Dysplasia

A study on Golden Retrievers found that male dogs who were neutered before 12 months of age had double the risk of hip dysplasia than their intact counterparts (Torres de la Riva G, Hart BL, Farver TB, Oberbauer AM, Messam LLM, et al. (2013) Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers)

Other research shows that dogs sterilized before the age of six months have a 70% increased risk of developing hip dysplasia. The authors of this study (Spain et al, JAVMA 2004), propose that “it is possible that the increase in bone length that results from early-age gonadectomy results in changes in joint conformation, which could lead to a diagnosis of hip dysplasia.”

There’s even more evidence that spay/neuter can increase the risk of hip dysplasia. Van Hagen et al (Am J Vet Res, Feb 2005), found that of the sample dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia, those that were neutered six months prior to the diagnosis were nearly twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia.

Interestingly, a study by Dannuccia et al (Calcif Tissue Int, 1986), found that removing the ovaries of Beagles caused increased remodeling of the pelvic bone, which also suggests an increased risk of hip dysplasia with spay.

Cruciate Ligament Tears

Cranial cruciate ligament tears have also been linked to spay/neuter in numerous studies.

The Golden Retriever study found that although there were no cases of cruciate tear in the intact dogs, 5% of males neutered before 12 months and 8% of females did suffer tears.

Whitehair et al (JAVMA Oct 1993), found that spayed and neutered dogs of any age were twice as likely to suffer cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Slauterbeck et al also found an increased risk (Clin Orthop Relat Res Dec 2004).

Chris Zinc DVM PhD DACVP explains, “…if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at eight 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. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament.”

Additionally, sterilization can cause a loss of bone mass (Martin et al, Bone 1987), and obesity (Edney et al, Vet Rec Apr 1986). Both of these factors could lead to an increased risk of cranial cruciate ligament tear and hip dysplasia. Furthermore, spayed/neutered dogs are greater than three times more likely to suffer from patellar luxation (Vidoni et al, Wien Tierartztl Mschr 2005).

But there are even more sinister issues with spay/neuter.

Spay/Neuter and Cancer

Contrary to popular belief, we can’t spay/neuter cancer and, in fact, this surgery largely increases the risk of many common canine cancers.

The Golden Retriever study looked at cancer rates and found that the incidence of lymphosarcoma was three times higher in males neutered before 12 months of age. Interestingly the percentage of hemangiosarcoma in females spayed after 12 months was four times higher than that of intact and even early-spayed females. Additionally, 6% of females spayed after 12 months were affected with mast cell cancer, while there were zero cases among the intact females. These results are similar to other studies.

The more recent Vizsla study found that spayed females had significantly higher rates of hemangiosarcoma (nine times higher) than intact females. They also found that spayed/neutered dogs were 3.5% more likely to suffer mast cell cancer and 4.3 times more likely to suffer lymphoma.  (M. Christine Zink, DVM, PhD et al., Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas. JAVMA, Vol 244, No. 3, February 1, 2014)

In fact, the incidence of all cancers in spayed females was 6.5 times higher and in neutered males was 3.6 times higher than intact dogs.

They also found that the younger the dogs were spayed/neutered, the younger they were when diagnosed with cancer.

Waters et al. (Exploring mechanisms of sex differences in longevity: lifetime ovary exposure and exceptional longevity in dogs) found similar results in their study of female Rottweilers. The researchers set out to determine whether retaining the ovaries contributed to longevity. In Rottweilers, the major causes of death are sarcoma and other cancers, which account for 38% and 73% of deaths respectively.

After excluding all cancer deaths, females who kept their ovaries during the first seven years of life were more than nine times more likely to reach exceptional longevity than females with the shortest ovary exposure. Although intact female dogs were more likely than males to achieve exceptional longevity, that advantage was erased with spay.

Spay/Neuter and Behavior

Although spay/neuter had been previously linked to cognitive impairment and even a three fold risk of hypothyroidism, which often creates behavior changes, the Viszla study yielded some particularly interesting insight into this link.

In the study, spayed and neutered dogs were also more likely to develop behavior disorders than intact dogs. This included fear of storms, separation anxiety, fear of noises, timidity, excitability, aggression, hyperactivity and fear biting. Another study found neutered dogs were more aggressive, fearful, excitable and less trainable than intact dogs. (Parvene Farhoody @ M. Christine Zink, Behavioral and Physical Effects of  Spaying and Neutering Domestic Dogs, May 2010)

This is contrary to the popular belief that neutering reduces aggression and other behavior problems.

There’s Nothing Routine About Spay/Neuter

These findings also present a conundrum for shelters and rescues who advocate spay/neuter. Although reducing the number of dogs in shelters is an important goal, it’s more important to prevent them from ending up at the shelter.  While most people believe that shelters are full because of over population, behavior problems are the most common reason owners give up their dogs. Moreover, is it fair for shelters to burden adoptive families with the increased risk of cancer and joint disease?

There are alternatives to the complete removal of the reproductive organs and this might play a role in reducing the risk of cancer, joint disease and behavior issues. Spay is “instant menopause” and immediately shuts off the supply of protective hormones that are obviously involved in much more than just reproduction. Modified spay/neuter surgeries have less impact on the hormones and endocrine system, so dogs will enjoy more protection, even when sterilized.

Hormones produced by the reproductive organs not only are essential for reproduction, but in the development of homeostasis, body condition, cholesterol levels, energy levels, urinary continence, muscle tone, cognition, behavior and, most importantly, they also play a role in the immune system. The rise in the risk of many cancers in response to the removal of the reproductive organs is evidence of this.

In females, a partial spay, or ovary-sparing spay or tubal ligation are safer options. In males, vasectomy can also be a safer option. There is also a zinc injection that has recently come into favor. Hopefully this research will encourage more shelters to look into these safer and less intrusive options.

Finally, if your goal is to give your dog the best chance at a life free of joint disease, cancer and behavior issues, then keeping your dog intact is certainly an option. If you’re thoughtful and caring enough to get this far in the article, you’re certainly thoughtful enough to manage an intact dog. Simply make certain your intact male isn’t allowed to wander and keep your intact female on leash for a few weeks when she is in estrus.

Removing a significant part of your dog’s endocrine system should be anything but routine. As research continues to show the damning results of spay/neuter, it’s certainly in your dog’s best interests for you to consider these three important reasons to keep your best friend just the way mother nature made him.

 

 

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112 Responses to Three Reasons To Reconsider Spay/Neuter

  1. Cristina

    It is amusing to me that the author requested more than the “DVM” behind a veterinarian’s name but we are expected to accept that she has worked for high kill shelters and has been a behaviorist on good faith. I don’t care either way what the author has or has not done- as an astronaut, black belt trained personally by Bruce Lee and an expert in noodling I will spay/neuter my pets. Especially since the only male we didn’t neuter developed testicular cancer. (For what it’s worth I am actually a veterinary technician that studied training and behaviorism and I continue to further my education every day with experience and good ole schooling).

  2. Nicole

    Hey author,

    Guess what, how about you volunteer at a shelter for a month. Then tell me what you think of keeping your “best friend just the way mother nature made him”. I suggest a high-kill facility.

    By not spaying & neutering, hundreds of animals are killed each year in shelters… Wait, not hundreds, thousands!! Oh, it’s more? Hundreds of thousands? More? Yes, more. It’s MILLIONS! Millions of animals are killed each year in shelters, and that is in the US alone! At what number will you recognize overpopulation something that has to be stopped? I imagine the only number that matters to you is the dollar amount you are able to make off of dogs. Whether it’s breeding them, or writing one sided articles about why you should keep your “best friend just the way mother nature made him”.

    I also enjoy your justification of what it takes to be a responsible unaltered pet.

    ” If you’re thoughtful and caring enough to get this far in the article, you’re certainly thoughtful enough to manage an intact dog.”

    While unwanted dogs and cats are being killed in shelters, I guess we all can figure it’s because the human responsible for them just wasn’t thoughtful and caring enough to read this article. Because if they were, it would have been good enough to keep their dogs as good as sterile! Wrong, things happen, even to the most thoughtful & caring owner. DOGS & CATS GET OUT! Not always because you want them to, but because unexpected things happen! And lets just hope your dog is as smart as you and knows not to reproduce, because you read this article. Too bad that is not reality, and millions of dogs & cats are killed each year. Your next argument would be-well, not all shelter animals are there because someone read an article and didn’t fix their pet… BUT MANY OF THEM ARE! What number of animals killed to you need dedicated to not spaying/neutering before you realize it’s the only way to stop the overpopulation?

    I don’t care how “responsible” you are, things happen, I see it every day. It happens to the most responsible owners. Then before you know it, those responsible owners are contributing to the overpopulation. But that’s not the owners fault, because they didn’t mean for it to happen.

    Bottom line, every dog or cat born, takes the potential home of one of the already unwanted shelter dogs. Whether you are a breeder, and only care about making money, so you bring more and more animals into an severely overpopulated world. Or you are a thoughtful “responsible owner” who didn’t mean for your pet to get knocked up, and will make sure you find homes for all your pets unwanted puppies or kitties. You are still taking a home for that animal that is about to be euthanized.

    • Hi Nicole

      I got a chuckle out of the comment that I breed for money. It costs me about $15,000 to $20,000 a year to breed. Why do I do it? Because I love my breed and I want a Labrador Retriever who is raised without vaccines and foods that can affect not only that dog, but the future generations. My puppy buyers are looking for the same and my adoption requirements are extremely stringent (no full time workers, no young children, etc). If for any reason they can’t keep that dog, at any point in its life, my contract demands that the dog comes back to me where it will live out its life in comfort.

      I haven’t volunteered at a shelter. I have worked as a behavior consultant with various shelters and in that capacity, I got to choose who got to live and die. It wasn’t a fun job. But I give back. But the dogs I worked with weren’t puppies – they weren’t strays. Nearly every one of those dogs had a home. What does this mean? It means that we don’t have a pet over population problem – what we have is a pet retention problem.

      As a breeder who screens her puppy buyers like crazy and insists on natural rearing methods, I fail to see how I’m part of the problem. The dogs I produce will never end up in a shelter and they are predictable in their size, grooming needs, activity requirements and temperament and this doesn’t happen with shelter dogs. The people who buy these dogs are completely screened and prepared. The vast majority of dogs that I’ve produced are intact and there has never been one oops litter in two decades. This is because these dogs have responsible owners.

      So please explain how I am part of the problem, or the happy people who buy my healthy, well behaved dogs with pedigrees that are carefully researched for health.

      If you are looking to reduce the number of dogs in shelters, I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong agenda. We don’t need to reduce the pet population, we need to keep those animals in their homes so they don’t end up in shelters. Please don’t vilify the wrong people. ~ Dana Scott

  3. James

    I have read most of the studies that this article refers to and I most say this is highly misleading and irresponsible…. Any significant negative effects of neutering I have been able to locate in the research is associated with immature dogs. The other risks it mentions are extremely small in the first place; 4.3 times increase something sounds significant but when the original risk is something like 0.4% the risk is still small. Again I have found no compelling evidence that suggests spaying/neutering has any significant health problem IF performed after maturity. So waiting until 9-12 months in medium breeds and 116-18 months in large breeds makes sense.

  4. Dawn Goldsmith

    I was truly surprised to read this information. More surprised that it suggests reconsidering spay/neuter. Finding out this article was written by someone who breeds their dogs makes sense now. Guess that is not a shocker coming from a rescue volunteer and animal advocate.

    I have to say that I truly love this magazine and all that it educates about nutrition and health.

    I imagine this one article being a huge disappointment shouldn’t make me want to unsubscribe, right? Maybe. I can say that I cannot recommend this article and it’s a shame because I do for just about everything I read on Dogs Naturally.

    I think I will just try and forget I read this and keep up the good fight of spay/neuter education. I assist one breed specific, Siberian husky rescue. The amount of Siberian huskies that are turned into the shelters in the Southern States (NC, SC, VA, GA, TN, FL, AL) is, on average 2 a week, between the ages of 1 and 4 years old. Most are intact, owner surrendered and most of the females have been overbred. The owners that surrender the females keep the male and turn the females & puppies in. There are times when the Mom is left to be pts after the puppies are adopted out. It is heart breaking. REMEMBER: This is just ONE breed of dog.

    I will continue to promote spay/neuter for it’s importance. The pet over population is our responsibility. If you are breeding your dogs, you are not taking a part in this responsibility. Once they are out of your home, it is someone else’s responsibility. You think they aren’t going to breed their dogs too? That sounds like a contribution to the pet population if you ask me and so is this article.

    Dawn Goldsmith
    Mama of Mya & Meeko
    (two rescued Siberian huskies that are spayed & neutered)

    • buffooonery

      How ridiculous this response is when considered against the point the article makes (that spay neuter) may not be the best method to limit population growth.

  5. Diana O'Kane

    I have had four spayed females and a fifth who was spayed at 4 years old. Two of the spayed bitches, spayed at six months, lived to 16 and 17 years, with no health problems throughout their lives. Both were crossbred dogs. A third, purebred, bitch, spayed at nine months, only just survived to 12, dying of hemangiosarcoma even though she had been fit and healthy for most of her life. The fourth spayed bitch, also purebred, spayed at 11 months, is now 11 years old, very fit and healthy and still running in Agility, but has suffered from incontinence for several years. All were kept slim and fit – that is just a matter of feeding and exercising appropriately. So I have had very mixed experiences. My fifth dog, purebred and spayed at 4 years, was only spayed because she suffered from major depression for weeks after her seasons and was taking longer and longer to come out of it. She was never in danger of becoming pregnant because I was careful and responsible and I would not have spayed her at all if she had not been suffering so badly from hormonal mood swings. We do not routinely carry out hysterectomies on human females and it is seen as a major big deal when this surgery is done. Why should it be considered routine and insignificant for females of other species? Dogs end up in shelters because people can’t manage them, decide they no longer want them, or can’t be bothered to look after them, not because there are too many of them. They would have gotten rid of them regardless. Owners should be allowed to make educated choices and be told the real pros and cons of de-sexing, not blackmailed, lied to and vilified by those who think they have all the answers.

  6. Lots of very interesting comments, Well worth reading thank you.

  7. Leo

    As a person involved in research (non-veterinary) I can tell you that any study can be manipulated to achive a preconceived result. There are unlimited ways to control your data. Almost in any research field you can find peer-reviewed published, non-reviewed published, and unpublished studies that can defend pretty much any claim. It the is up to the research community at large to validate or debunk study results.

    As a magazine that has an admitted bias in this matter, it is very easy to pick and choose the research that backs your beliefs. But I’m not sure that the author of the article understands the nature of academic research publishing. Just because a study was printed by a journal does not mean it has instant infallible validity. Rather it means that a certain research obtained the specified data, and now the academic community is free to try to duplicate the research findings. If enough parallel studies come to similar conclusion, then an academic consensus can be formed, and that’s how file-wise policy gets enacted.

    To an academic’s eye, citing 10, 20 and 30 year old academic papers that go against the field practice as sole basis for a call to a field wide change is such a radical policy is frankly, laughable.

    I am not saying those cited studies are invalid. I’m just saying that it is not wise to pick and choose a handful of research finding articles to be sole basis for this issue.

    Are there secondary research articles trying to replicate the findings?
    Who commissioned the studies?
    Were the samples taken with full consideration for external variables?
    Are there articles that deny or contradict the cite ones?

    It would be wise that before you use what is basically scare tactics to influence your readers that you search for and provide deeper evidence and support for the claims you are making.

    • So let’s get this straight. Vets can decide that lopping out 1/4 of the endocrine system is a good idea without any scientific research on the long term implications of this surgery, yet reams of evidence showing there may be very real health risks associated with it are to be scrutinized for the next hundred years until there is 100%, irrefutable proof that the radical surgery that was started on a whim is suddenly unsafe? The burden on proof should be on the people cutting into these animals, not the other way around! Why should we be held to a higher standard of proof? This isn’t new in veterinary medicine – they started vaccinating annually without any scientific validity to the practice, and now they’re ignoring decades of research showing revaccination to be unnecessary – and dangerous. Vets also started pushing grain-laden foods on dogs and cry “where is the proof?” when we say dogs shouldn’t be eating all those inappropriate ingredients when nobody went to the bother to find out whether dogs could survive for more than a few weeks on this stuff. Nobody cared whether processed foods were acceptable and equally nutritious to fresh whole foods, yet the AVMA is smug enough to speak out against these foods when the processed, genetically-modified, aflatoxin-filled foods they push have never been looked at in an epidemiological study. Whatever happened to common sense? ~ Dana Scott

  8. Susan G

    I wish I understood why snipping out an inch of tubing is so much more difficult/expensive than ripping out the entire reproductive tract… anyone?
    also, I wonder how many of us women have considered a double mastectomy to avoid getting breast cancer.

    • Danielle N. Rastetter, DVM

      It’s more expensive because it’s a longer, more difficult surgery.

      • Is it much more difficult to leave at least one ovary after removing the other, the uterus and the stump than performing a pan hysterectomy? Why should that OSS be so much more expensive?

    • Julie

      It is not an inch it is a lot smaller and more technically challenging. Most veterinarians haven’t been trained in this technique and most believe that leaving the uterus is not medically acceptable. I have had MANY dogs come to me ( I’m a veterinarian) with a pus filled uterus and on the brink of death. Had they been spayed this absolutely wouldn’t have happened. When a female dog goes into heat, the cervix opens up and an infection can ascend up and lead to a uterine infection. Also, there is a zero percent of breast cancer if a dog is spayed before first heat. This is not the case left intact.

      • LovesDogs

        Then why not remove everything but the hormones (ovaries, testes)? Surely, we owe it to animals to do what is best for them instead of harming them because people are lazy, stupid or both? Natural pet raising is all about the animals, not a cheap, easy solution for the humans.

        Our family has owned at least 12-15 shelter or rescue dogs over the last 2 decades. Every female spayed before age 2 had urinary problems – incontinience or leaking. At least 4 altered dogs also drank excessive amounts of water beginning about 2 months after their alteration. Low thyroid was another issue for these dogs; it’s obviously tied to the lack or hormones. 3 of the females we adopted were spayed at age 5-6 yrs by the shelters. None of them had urinary problems or got cancer. They did end up with low thyroid. We feed raw meat and bones, not the cancer-causing krapple most vets push. We also don’t give drugs or use toxic chemicals like flea spot-ons. Sorry, but cancer is caused mostly by toxins in food, products or their environment. 1 dog we adopted had a rectal tumor when we got her from a shelter. Our vet surgically removed this and told us he thought it would be cancerous and return. That dog was 5 yrs old at the time. It never returned and she lived to be 13 yrs old when her heart gave out.

        Those who choose what’s best for their animals should be allowed to do it without the rest of you having a hissy fit. Do what you want with your animals and leave those of us who choose natural rearing alone. I bet our animals have a much better quality of health and a longer life.

      • Nothing has been published linking a zero percent chance of breast cancer to spaying prior to the first heat – none. It was discussed and proposed, but never studied or published as such. That is a very broad statement and actually considered a scare tactic to get people to do pediatric spays.

  9. Elaine

    Wow. That’s all I can say is wow to some of these comments.

    I had an intact female Siberian Husky. She was over the age of 2 years old before I ever got her spayed (2 weeks ago). Am I supposed to believe that it is my fault that the shelter remained full during this time because I had not yet spayed my female? Do you want to know how many pregnancies she had and how many puppies she had during this time? Zero!

    Would you also like to know how many sex crazed males I had knocking down my doors? Zero!! For more perspective, I live in a neighborhood where many dogs are allowed to roam freely, my backyard is only 3/4′s fenced, my next door neighbor has 2 intact males, my neighbor across the street allows his intact male to roam freely. None of these dogs even came to visit my female when I had her in the yard. Not even on the days she was receptive during her heat cycle.

    I think most of these stories of males hanging around homes when females are in season are cooked up to scare people into spaying their females or as an excuse to why they allowed their girl to get pregnant when it wasn’t planned. Many of the dogs in my neighborhood are intact. I’ve yet to drive by a house with hormone crazed males littering the front lawn vying for a females affections and thought to myself, “Oh, must be a female in season”. Honestly ask yourself if you have ever the scene above either.

    I completely understand and sympathize with rescue groups and the struggle with over population. I do. I live in the South. All 5 of my dogs are rescues. This article is not directed at those situations. Maybe denying these puppies and kittens the benefit of their hormones is better than trusting the new adopter to do the right thing and be deligent in keeping their new pets from breeding and having unwanted litters. Maybe a little education on dog reproduction could allow for puppies to be altered at a more health beneficial time span. Maybe no one really wants to think about it so throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water and desexing at 8 weeks old is the solution we will even tolerate. If these new adoptive owners are so irresponsible and untrustworthy maybe they don’t need a dog in the first place.

    Personally, I feel that the irresponsible owners are not going to spay or neuter their pets regardless of what this article or the ones that push for 2 month old puppies to be altered have to say on the matter. They are going to continue to allow for indiscriminate breeding and dumping of puppies in pounds and shelters.

    Back yard breeders are going to continue to produce dogs for money regardless of health as long as people buy their product without educating themselves on what a healthy representative of the breed should look like and what health clearences the parents should have.

    However, for the educated and responsible owners out there. There is no harm in having more information to base their decision on when it is appropriate for their pet to be spayed and neutered and different procedures other than complete de-sexing.

  10. Great information and questions to discuss with the vet you locate to perform these types of spays. And pyometra is certainly discussed.

    http://www.parsemusfoundation.org/ovary-sparing-spay/

  11. Nancy

    It would be helpful to know how and where to find a veterinarian who performs these procedures.

    “In females, a partial spay, or ovary-sparing spay or tubal ligation are safer options. In males, vasectomy can also be a safer option. There is also a zinc injection that has recently come into favor. Hopefully this research will encourage more shelters to look into these safer and less intrusive options”.

    I have been unable to locate one in a 100 mile radius….

    • LovesDogs

      You might try holistic and homeopathic vets first. They are more interested in the health of animals, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. We found a vet who does this and he’s actually a conventional one but he’s been doing this for 20 yrs and really knows his stuff. Experience is always the best teacher.

      The bottom line is that everyone is responsible for their own animals, not those in shelters/rescues, on the streets, or who belong to other people. Responsible owners are not the cause of the millions of animals at shelters or being euthanized. Be honest here. Puppymills, people who don’t keep their pets for a lifetime, bad/greedy breeders who sell to anyone, and irresponsible owners are the cause. Anyone raising their animals naturally is the cream of the crop type owner and all we want is what’s best for our animals in everything.

      For the person who remarked about intact mails being responsible for most dog attacks and bites, I know of 4 neutered males who became aggressive after being over-vaccinated by shelters or rescues. This is one of the horrible effects of the rabies vaccine. Rabid dogs become aggressive because the virus attacks the nervous system making them hyper-resonsive to stimuli. The rabies vaccine causes brain inflammation and this is why many people report behavior changes in their animals after they get this dangerous vaccine.

      We have friends who recently were on vacation in So America. They foster for 2 rescue groups and have done so for years. They remarked how the street dogs (intact, unvaccinated) look healthier than shelter dogs here and that they never saw a dog fight in the 3 weeks they were there even though there were plenty of packs roaming around. They also never saw them get nasty to a human or get hit by a car.

      • Rosemary T. Niaki

        I can’t believe they actually printed this tripe. There aren’t any comparisons of different breeds and I will say that in my 67years of listening to human stulidity this takes the cake. I would bet my life that like in humans most cancer is caused by bad diet and stress.
        As for not spaying or neutering pets, well if you are not involved in rescue you wouldn’t know the heartache rescueing pregnant dogs giving birth on the street and raising puppies that will just be put to sleep in the end. Yes if this was a perfect world and people were responsible and kind, I could agree that spaying is not necessary, but until that time comes I hope you do not have to go through what we animal rescuers deal with every day of our lives because people do not spay and neuter their pets. And while some of you may live in ideal neighborhoods the rest of the world may not.

  12. Patricia

    I began seeing some of this information around 2004–when it was too late for the two dogs we had in the house. The past 3 dogs we’ve had ended up dying from cancer. All three of those dogs had a few things in common that none of our previous dogs had: 1. They’d been neutered. 2. They received every single vaccine that was recommended to us–every year. 3. We have no idea what they were really eating since we weren’t preparing it ourselves.

    Now we’re doing things differently with the 2 dogs presently living with us. 1. Intact 2. Raw diet with meat, organs, bone, and raw vegetable/fruit puree for the antioxidants. 3. Limited vaccines. 4. More natural care with the environment we have them in including poisons. White vinegar is my best friend.

    We don’t know for sure that “the other way” is absolutely what caused the cancer, but we have strong suspicions since they were the only dogs that our family EVER had (including parents’ dogs) that ended up with cancer. We just know that we’re going back to the old way–the way our parents did it–and never have our dogs off-leash unless they’re in the fenced area of our yard WITH us.

    We absolutely don’t want any puppies out there anywhere. We just want healthier dogs, and we’re doing everything that we can do to achieve that goal.

  13. Lisa

    Folks, no matter how you slice it, euthanasia is the number one killer of dogs and cats.

    Dana, is there a reason that you chose not to disclose that you are a breeder? While this is a somewhat informative article, it SMACKS of pro-breeder propaganda. Shame on you.

    I have operated a spay/neuter service in the desert areas of SoCal for five years. We’ve fixed nearly 44,000 pets in five CA counties. What I see and hear on the road is from average pet owners….not breeders, not wealthy people who are able to afford vasectomies or tubal ligations for their dogs. Most of them can barely afford to fix or vaccinate their pets.

    I also have rescued for over 14 years. We rescue the genetically challenged- the product of horrible breeding, and breeders that don’t have an education in genetics. Most of our rescue dogs are backyard bred, and they come from ALL over the US.

    I am also with a national breed rescue. Thankfully this stubborn and alpha breed doesn’t end up in shelters very often. Neutering them at a young age DOES make a difference. Come meet my boy who couldn’t be neutered until 8 months of age. He has a host of behavioral issues due to his late neuter, and he LIVES with a very talented dog trainer.

    Please don’t forget to mention that nutrition and vaccinations can have a HUGE bearing on health issues and behavior. The average dog owner is feeding cheap and crappy kibble, resulting in health issues that we often see in rescued dogs. I have also seen many a deaf dog here have onset of OCD from vaccinations.

    It’s easy to sit in your chair and tell people that you used to work in a shelter in a very progressive city like Toronto. And easy to write a slanted article when you are a breeder. C’mon out to the desert and the low income areas of the city where bullets are flyin’ and see if your perspective is the same after about a month. Drive the streets and see the dead dogs and cats on the side that were dumped on the road to fend for themselves. Talk to the family that has six Chihuahuas that breed twice a year and they’ve already given each family member a dog or two…what are they going to do with this litter?

    So thanks- NOT. Your article puts us back 30 years. We HAVE been educating for the past 30 years, and we’re STILL KILLING PETS.

    • I’m a proud, responsible, natural rearing breeder and I’ll shout that from the rooftops! The puppies I breed are not spayed or neutered but my homes are incredibly well screened. If they’re not responsible enough to keep an intact dog and not have it bred, they’re not responsible enough to have one of my puppies, period. In addition, if for any reason they can’t keep the animal, it comes back to me and this is stipulated in their contract. There has never been an oops litter in my house nor in any of the homes that have purchased one of my puppies.

      Now, the shelters I’ve worked at certainly weren’t progressive and they weren’t in Toronto. In fact, the once province where I worked still used a gas chamber to euthanize pets in some of their smaller shelters and is one of the poorest provinces in Canada. Don’t assume you know anything about my experiences.

      Finally, do you really think that the people taking the time to read these articles are the same people who let their dogs run loose and intact? This article is for the caring, responsible dog owners who are taking the time to research how to make their dogs healthier and longer lived. They deserve to know this information, as do their dogs.

      • Kimberly Adsit

        Can you guarantee that your articles are only read by those caring, responsible dog owners that you speak of? Is your magazine production and distribution limited to only those selective few? Well, no it is not. Magazine subscriptions are all about making money for the publisher because if the magazine doesn’t make money you won’t get published any longer. If you believe you have a limited audience then may I suggest that you go visit all the people who have subscriptions to the magazine and see how they live or better yet why don’t you visit all the people who make up your audience on Facebook. I will bet that you find more irresponsible pet owners than the responsible ones you so speak of. I know many people that read your magazine and the articles that are published and I know many more that follow your articles on Facebook. Do you really believe that you have a limited audience? No, you have the everyday irresponsible owners who let their dogs run loose and intact, you have the everyday normal households who don’t spay/neuter and end up having that Oops litter, you have the people breeding and selling puppies at flea markets, street corners, and Craigslist. I see your articles posted on local pet sites where yes they may be shared by those loving, caring, responsible people but they are not read by the same audience that you speak of. These irresponsible people are all the people reading your published articles and the articles you share on Facebook. They are also all the people that I have lengthy discussions with every day because they now want to dump their over bred females or the puppies that they can’t get rid of and then turn around and have more litters to make more money. They are the irresponsible owners who argue about spay neuter and do not bother to train their dogs and end up calling because now they have behavioral issues. They are the people who do not bother to even vaccinate their dogs let alone have any sense of responsibility towards their dog’s health and well-being. They are also the people who decide well I don’t want this dog anymore so let’s just dump it on the street corner, give it away, or take it to the local shelter or rescue. If you really think you have a limited audience then you have blinders on and need a serious reality check.

      • Gayle

        That point ithat Dana makes about who is actually reading this article is exactly right and what makes the difference about this article. It’s people like me who are caring, responsible pet owners trying to do right by their beloved companions. I wish I had read this 2 years ago before it was too late for my Golden Retriever puppy. I trusted my vet and had no clue what spaying her at such a tender young age would do to her. She began suffering very shortly after her surgery with urinary issues. I strongly believe that if I hadn’t discovered DNM I would have lost her by now to kidney failure. However, we have learned how to lessen the effects and improve her resilience through natural care. Whereas , my vet wanted her to take antibiotic after antibiotic on top of steroids to treat it. Unfortunately, now at 2 yrs old she is already showing signs of hip dysplasia. So the ill effects of premature spaying for my sweet Golden continue to mount – I shudder to think what lies in store for us. if only I had known.

    • Shelley Hrousalas

      Lisa: Your letter was just as biased to your way of thinking as Dana’s was to her’s. You need to open your mind just a little bit to some new way of thinking. There has to be some reason for the alarming increase in Cancer and Hip Dysplasia in many of our breeds. Yes, I am a hobby breeder of Labrador Retrievers and I can tell the difference in the structure of a dog who has been neutered before the age of 2 years. My puppies only go to responsible homes that I have investigated thoroughly and all keep in touch with me over the dogs lifetime.

      • Danielle N. Rastetter, DVM

        I am a veterinarian and I have yet to locate multiple valid scientific studies (one study is not sufficient) that says there is an INCREASE in these orthopedic and cancer cases. They are present, yes, but there is no increase since spay/neuter has increased.

        • We’ve provided valid and reliable research showing that the the incidence of most prevalent cancers in pets is significantly higher in sterilized animals – so we would really appreciate it if you provided the same, and not just a DVM behind your name and the same tired tirade of reproductive cancers. Obviously animals without reproductive organs won’t get cancer in their reproductive organs – this proves nothing about the relationship between cancer and reproductive status. Excuse us if we’re skeptical, but it’s ludicrous to state on one hand that you don’t you trust our research but you counter it with casual observation and three initials behind your name. Pet owners are smarter than that, so why not step up to the plate and show us the research? Finally, if you read the article, you would discover we’ve cited a half dozen studies to prove this point. Shame on you for hiding behind the DVM and not bringing more to the profession – you had an opportunity to earn our respect and so far, you’ve completely missed the mark. ~ Dana Scott, Editor in Chief

  14. Aaron

    While I don’t support spay/neuter before full maturity, I find the article gives the impression that all spay/neutering is bad but the one study that it mostly bases that on is about spay/neutering before a certain age.

    There are issues that can impact females if left intact especially as they grow older. Same applies to male dogs but less so.

    I disagree with early spay/neuter but I support the view that you allow your dog to fully mature, and the female having at least one heat cycle, then make a decision on spay/neutering. Again, I find this article tends to imply all spay/neutering is bad even though the research is based on doing it while they’re still growing into adulthood.

  15. Until someone comes up with a low cost, 100% effective and visually provable method of canine birth control, no dog no matter the age, will leave our program without being spayed/neutered in the conventional manner. Period.

  16. Interesting note: I have an older Lab mix who was neutered when I adopted him at nine months old. I also have a 2.5-yr-old mixed breed girl who I have not altered yet. Unless I leave the state, I cannot locate anyone in the Capital Region of NY who performs OSS.

    I contacted Cornell Veterinary – the state of the art educational facility – who at first told me to contact a certain number to make an appointment for that kind of surgery, only to receive another e-mail 20 minutes later saying they made a mistake and do not perform those surgeries and there is no list of vets who do…really??!!

    I’ve had dogs in my past that had to be spayed as an emergency after developing pyometra which is something I do not want to happen to this dog. My choices are to do a complete spay, breed her, or take my chances that she doesn’t develop uterine disease. I don’t accept those as fair alternatives. This is why we are so determined to change things here in the Capital Region. State of the art and the cutting edge my butt!

  17. Responsible Pet Owner

    As a dog owner who got her dog neutered at 6 months against my husband’s wishes because it was strongly recommended by the vet, I wish I had known about this sooner. I did not know the fact that there was an option of vasectomy. I though neutering was the only way to go. :(

  18. Give your human toddlers a pan hysterectomy or a castration, and you’ll see what lack of growth hormones and a debilitated endocrine system will do. Early spay/neuter should be made illegal – rescues and shelters are performing them at two months/two pounds for kittens, and eight weeks for pups. I won’t even send folks looking to adopt a rescue to their pages or websites because I know they will most likely be in for a lifetime of medical bills and/or behavioral issues, losing a pet much too early to cancer, and/or giving them back to the shelter or killed by the suggestion of some veterinary behaviorist. I cannot tell you how many FB pages I’ve been banned from for even mentioning any of this.

    We are seeing much of this pattern in rescue, and our rescue will be a cut above the rest by following adopters to ensure s/n at healthy ages, not to mention we will be advocating for Zeuterin sterilization and OSS. Tampa Bay Humane Society is just one shelter offering Zeuterin now.

    We will titer over vaccination, especially any older dogs that come into the rescue. We believe in pet retention – and this author is so right in saying that is the major problem and not overpopulation – and our programs will include behavioral assessments, relationship building and training as we are certified trainers. Diet and nutrition will be at the forefront, too. All of this is relative. Keep an eye and ear out for us – we already have a FB page, website coming shortly, and lots of happy and healthy rescued dogs (and kitties) beginning in the not too distant future. We’re located in upstate New York. http://www.facebook.com/GiveMeYourPawResQ

  19. me

    I have ta call ya out on the BS on nuetered males!!! My wherewolf joe we had @ camp a runner went by he was gone & almost tackeled in a min or so nuertered him he’s the biggist sweety now. No nards =better behaved dog time & time again ur facts are nonsence. I think u tree huggin crunchy hippies need to tuck back ur IGNORANCE no spay/nueter & even BIGGER problem in unwanted pets!!!!!!! Only an IDIOT wouldnt fix their pet

  20. Liz

    A spay or neuter can usually be done for very cheap, we have tons of programs in South Florida that you can qualify for based on income. I work for a spay and neuter clinic, and we do thousands of surgeries each year. I have been here for over 5 years, and very few animals have passed away during surgery. Plus the ones with a difficult recovery or the ones who do not make it thru surgery were older than 12 months or were already suffering from a pyometra. Do you even know what pyometra is? It is something that can be easily prevented by spaying a young female. I have seen all kinds of horrors, Chihuahuas pregnant with Rottis, and the owners expecting us the fix their 5 lb Chihuahua because it cannot birth it’s rotti puppies…It’s so ignorant not to spay or neuter. Especially while our shelters are full. I would never speak negatively about desexing a pet. Nobody can afford to have their pets tubes tied or a vasectomy…they can barely afford their own healthcare. Let’s be realistic.

    • These are not the people to whom this article is addressing. Once again, it is addressed to the responsible people who want to know all there is to keep their pets healthy and live longer lives. Many of the people to whom you are referring do not really care about this subject and it’s good that they are altering their pets. They don’t wonder too much about why their pet died of cancer at eight years of age, and most Greyhound rescues will tell you if the dog makes it past seven years they’ll probably outlive the bone cancer that’s prevalent. Really?? Nobody is noticing that most of them are pigeon-chested due to being spayed or neutered at an early age, many right after they leave the track?

      Sometimes, I don’t have two nickels to rub together, but I’m intelligent and a responsible pet owner who wants to know all there is about finding docs who perform hormone-retentive, or Ovary Sparing Surgeries for my dog as well as our rescue. I am not pleased about not having this choice relatively close to my location because the vets are afraid of the AVMA.

  21. Laurie

    I am a very responsible dog owner. Some might even say that my dogs are better cared for than a lot of children they know. They eat the best food. I pay large amounts for a good pet sitter if i ever feel I need to be away from them for longer than what is healthy. They have what they need before I do. They are my family! However, one of my dogs is not spayed. I was all set to have it done…brought her in for the preliminary blood work. It was found that her clotting time was too slow. I don’t know proper medical terminology for all of this, but the bottom line is it was recommended after performing the test twice, that I do not have her spayed, at least not at that time. I took that advice, and took her home. I have to be careful of certain things like the possibility of a stray male dog approaching…but really life is not all that different. Bedding and carpets can be cleaned. but i would not have had my dog if what they were fearing would have happened during surgery (that she could have bled too much…) Certainly, I could look further for a way for her to be safely spayed, especially now that she is older. There was talk that the condition was something that maybe she could grow out of. But to put her through that now, I just don’t know. We are doing fine working around the circumstances as they are. She is a happy, healthy little dog. I guess I just felt the need to share because people should understand that not every decision not to spay is going to contribute to the homeless pet population. People have told me spaying is the more responsible way and that my dog will get cancer, etc, etc. But a larger number of people respect my choice and would probably name me as one of the more responsible pet owners that they know. i understand about the shelter issue. I do what i can to help with donations, etc. And while spaying and neutering will decrease the problem, there are MANY other things that pet owners can do to be responsible, and help the over population issue.

  22. glenda

    just finished reading the article..i found it very interesting…i decided not to neuter my beagle…he developed testicular cancer at age nine and i had to have him neutered…i purchased another beagle (a female and had her spayed at eight months because i thought it was the right thing to do seeing how my other beagle developed cancer which i could have prevented if i had him neutered…this article makes me feel that i am a terrible dog owner because i chose to spay my new puppy….i thought this was the best option for me!

    • Glenda, our intent is not to make anyone feel like a bad dog owner. We just want to make sure people have information on which to base their decisions, since a lot of this data is not available to the public.

    • Danielle N. Rastetter, DVM

      Glenda – the risks of reproductive cancer and infected reproductive organs are higher than the risks of spay/neuter (even long term) especially in smaller dogs like beagles. You did the right thing by having them altered.

      • Sarah

        You did the right thing. My parents used to be opposed to s/n. They kept our dogs intact and said only lazy dog owners. Three of our dogs ended up with testicular cancer. Two lost their battle, the remaining survivor spent the last 3 years of his life neutered and a better dog than I evdr knew him to be. Before he had been loud, aggressive with other dogs, prone to humping and spraying. He couldn’t hardly be kept indoors because he was incorrigible. But he was a completely changed and happier dog for those last few years. The last straw for my parents was when Oscar, our purebred lab attacked my younger brother. He was intact at the breeder’s request because he was a beautiful specimen, but one day he was in the fenced in yard and got into a barking match with the neighbor dog. It escalated to lunging at the fence, and my 8 yr old brother was in the way. His lower lip was torn completely free off his mouth, it took 3 reconstructive surgeries for him to speak again. Our beautiful, purebred, registered, and trained to a t labrador had to be put down at only 4. Never again have they had an intact dog. It took so much unnecessary suffering to teach them, but they learned. In the years since, they have had happy, healthy, neutered and trained rescue dogs and no issues. One had to be let go at 17 due to age, and he was a larger mix breed, neutering certaintly hasn’t contributed to limiting their lifespans. Unlike the dogs of my childhood, each has lived to double digits. Now I work in a vet’s office, and have seen too many dogs come in with pyometra, inflamed and infected milk ducts, testicular cancer, half dead puppies stuck in the birth cannal…it can be a real horror show.
        However, I am not saying that I am for early s\n, I believe in waiting for the dog to reach physical maturity beforehand. That’s just my personal opinion.

  23. Chris

    Great article! The only thing that I have issue with is the zinc injection. If done incorrectly it can cause a great deal of harm to the dog. Plus, it does cause the testes to atrophy, kind of negates the reason cited for using it. A vasectomy would be more effective.
    I do have to wonder at some of these comments. An intact female shouldn’t have males clustering around her unless she is in season or has an infection. A bitch is only fertile during estrus-twice a year or less.
    As someone else has mentioned, we are importing dogs to satisfy the rush to buy a shelter dog.
    The author cites the studies that were used for information to write this article. Read them before decrying a lack of depth. The author also left out the study done on German Shepherd Dogs with findings on behavioral issues increasing with spaying.
    Studies are still ongoing. We all jumped on the early spay/neuter bandwagon and are just now seeing the damage done. I have personally lived with spay incontinence & reactivity with early spays & lymphoma in a young neutered male. I’m discussing with my vet leaving ovaries on my current puppy. I have lived with intact dogs of both sexes without having a litter.

  24. Michael Gardner

    Ok now that all these people who responded to this article have had time to relax, get a grip on their emotions. Had a cup of joe, I hope they look back over it again.
    Not once did it say, “don’t spay/neuter your pet”. The title sums up the article , Alternatives to spay/neuter, and some supporting research. Not everyone believe in changing their pet, be it to spay/neuter or Ear/Tail docking . I personally have not heard of a ferule dog problem in the states. And now I’m sure I well.
    A pet is a life long commitment that not every one takes to heart. Pet are living, feeling creatures that we as Humans have breed to our needs and wants. They are not wild, and few if left to their own means would turn, most simple die long painful deaths. They are bread to be dependent on us as owner/masters/caregiver, as we as such need to stand up to the task. But not all who own pet do, to the shame that are shelters and rescue groups.

  25. Jenn

    As a personal pet owner AND a rescuer, I think an article such as this is dangerous to the ignorant masses that will not hear the message intended for responsible pet owners to review alternate options & will just walk away with the message not to spay/neuter their pet(s).
    Irresponsible people will always exists. Their pets flood shelters everywhere, every day. Millions of those animals already die needlessly every year. Spaying & neutering does help to keep that number from skyrocketing higher.
    Even responsible pet owners with the best of intentions would find it a challenge to keep unaltered pets (in a multi pet household) adequately separated to prevent unwanted litters while promoting good social behaviors among said pets.
    My vet does not do “pediatric spay/neuter” surgeries. His personal recommendation is to wait until growth has stopped and all “baby” teeth are out.

  26. Kathy Van Barriger

    For years we were told spaying prevented mammary tumors/cancer and neutering prevented testicular cancer and those unwanted male behaviors of aggression, humping and marking — what happened to that? As far as my own experience in dogs, I had a male Golden Retriever that was well trained (many classes) and I never let him roam — he was always either on leash or in his fenced yard. On day during routine grooming, I found a tiny pink spot on one of his testicles; I took him to the vet within a day or two, and he was neutered within the week. Biopsy showed it was cancer. He never acted sick a day, but three months later he went to sleep and didn’t wake up; the cancer had spread. Our beloved dog was dead at age 9 because I hadn’t neutered him earlier; there was no need to keep him intact, he was not going to be bred. I will always advise people to spay/neuter their pets. For those who think it will never happen to them… it does.

    • Of course testicular cancer is reduced by neutering. It’s difficult to get cancer in something that is no longer there…

      My neutered male still humps, and mainly because of excitement that is controlled with training, not sexual until my intact female goes into heat. Then, it is sexual. Neutering sterilizes, it does not remove basic instincts.

      Don’t beat yourself up about not neutering your Golden. He could’ve developed cancer for numerous reasons, one of them being from vaccinations and another from poor breeding traits. How does the vet know it hadn’t spread to his testicle from somewhere else in his body, and not originated there?

      There is absolutely NO published proof linking mammary cancer to unspayed females that were left intact or spayed after six months of age or their first heat.

  27. Abbie Boxman

    If people spayed/neutered badly bred dogs early, there would be no dogs with hip dysplasia in the first place!
    What about mammary cancer, testicular cancer & ovarian cancer? Those things actually kill dogs. There are many cheap pain killers on the market for dogs with hip dysplasia, chemotherapy costs between $10,000-$15,000.
    “Emotionally charged”? Only by those people who hate seeing homeless dogs killed. If you have an ” accidental” litter (something that has a zero percent chance if you spay/neuter.) You remain responsible for the lives of those puppies for life, in addition to the puppies of those puppies, & any offspring that results. If you don’t mind being responsible for the puppies that are killed, & remember that not everyone uses humane euthanasia, (plenty of puppies & dogs are shot, bludgeoned, drowned & legally gassed in a cage with other animals) then not spaying/neutering your dogs is a great idea!

  28. It seems to me that if we educate the public on how to find responsible breeders and not to buy from pet stores and those who are irresponsible in breeding practices then our animals and the owners gain. They walk away with info on proper vaccinations, spay/neuter, if and when and a support system for the life of the dog, including being required to return a dog with a problem and not to abandon it. This would do a heck of a lot for the shelter problems. Educate!

    • Danielle N. Rastetter, DVM

      In an ideal world but we are left facing reality.

  29. Sin

    You are not mentioning pyometra, a fatal uterine infection that affects intact females, or that a very high percentage of dog bites and attacks are from non-neutered males.

  30. Donna

    I would love to invite the person who wrote this article to come down to Mobile, AL. Take a walk through our kill shelter which euthanizes 5000 healthy dogs and cats a year, due to just plain ol’ overpopulation. PERIOD. This is a ridiculous article, and I seriously hope people are realistic about spay/neuter in the South, and how important it is. Come on down here. I’ll take you through the kennels, personally. YOU can look in the helpless, hopeless eyes. Their crime? Being born. There are always occasional repurcussions for every shot and procedure that is done. I hope no one takes this article seriously. I already work 2 jobs and put in 30-40 hours EVERY week trying to save this dogs. You want to make a difference, author of this article? Come on down South and look us in the eyes and tell us if there is honestly any other option than spay/neuter—the earlier the better. Thanks a whole heaping lot for making my job more difficult.

    • Hi there – as the author of this article, I have worked in kill shelters. In fact, as the behaviour consultant, my unfortunate task was to choose who lived and who died. This article isn’t written out of ignorance. While the plight of shelter dogs is unfortunate, it has little to do with over-population. The vast majority of pets in the shelter had homes at one point and were relinquished because their owners were ill prepared to manage them. Moreover, because shelters make it easy for people to relinquish their pets, there’s not much to stop them from doing so. As in insider, I’ve seen shelters take retired breeding animals from puppy mills, thinking they were doing the right thing, but while it helped those few animals in the short term, it created a long term problem of a revolving door. While I don’t have the answer to that particular issue, it’s a problem that shelters need to address. But this has nothing to do with responsible pet owners keeping their animals intact. We need to look at this with our heads, not our hearts.

    • goddess

      It’s never wrong to have more information about something that can affect the long term health of our dogs. Having their tubes tied or a vasectomy might be good middle ground. They get to keep their hormone producing organs while not contributing to the pet over population. But people who are responsible dog owners should not be denied options because of the actions of others.

    • Katharine

      I have to agree with Donna. While I respect the information in the article and love Dogs Naturally Magazine the problem in the South is overpopulation to the extreme. Come work in a rural South Carolina shelter for a day and you will see. Almost 100% of animals brought into the shelter are intact. I have seen loads of random, unwanted litters walk through the door with no rightful owner. These litters WOULD have been prevented if more people in rural areas were educated on, and offered, low cost spay/neuter. Euthanizing perfectly healthy puppies should never have to happen.

      I understand that this article will not reach the eyes of those responsible for the unwanted litters I speak of, but the principle of the matter is that in the South overpopulation IS the problem. And although many metro area shelters deal often with owner surrenders, the continuously reproducing stray population is a HUGE HUGE problem. If the tubal and vasectomy were more widely available and inexpensive, I would be all for that! But preventing unwanted litters is a huge battle here and will remain such until more animals are sterilized.

    • linda

      you do not seem to understand the physical and mental development damage done by underage spay and neuter. i did not either until we rescued our 5 month old pup that had been spayed at 4 months. she is riddled with fear issues and required knee surgery when she was only 3.5 years old and it looks as if we will prob. have to have the other knee done down the road. this has made for a very frustrating and expensive lifespan, thus far, for this otherwise healthy and lovely dog. i understand the overpopulation problem but the vets need to be trained on how to sterilize our pets without damaging them. they need their hormones for development, this fact is not that difficult to understand. based on my limited discussions with vets on this topic i have begun to think that they are not motivated to do this because of the cash flow our damaged pups brings in their door.

  31. Leslie

    I would have hoped for a more open-minded reception from readers. It just goes to show how deeply ingrained biases become when they are repeated over and over. This is how opinion becomes “fact.”

    As the author states, most dogs end up in shelters (or on the street) for behavioral problems, not because of the rampant overbreeding from dogs-run-wild that the Humane Society beats us over the head with in tear-jerking commercials. Isn’t it interesting that spaying and neutering might be contributing to these behavioral problems? The Humane Society may be responsible for filling its own kennels. Wouldn’t that be ironic? What’s scary about this is that they resist all factual study information disproving their detrimental recommendations. It all boils down to money — there is a huge amount of money to be made doing spays and neuters, and neither the Humane Society nor 99% of veterinarians will slash their own income for the well being of dogs. (Same conflict of interest in preventing cancer — way too much money is made from it.) It is up to the owners to recognize the conflicts of interest for organizations like The Humane Society and their vets, and seek out factual information to make more compassionate choices for their pets.

    I do agree that more consideration could have been given to what factors where controlled for in the study, ie, diet and vaccinations. Just because the author didn’t list them doesn’t mean they weren’t taken into account by the study designers. At this point, we don’t know…

    I applaud the author for trying to get this information out there. Don’t be discouraged by the emotional responses that you wisely alluded to in your very first sentence.

  32. kris

    i can tell you i have an early spay (i got her at 5 months and she was already spayed so i believe it was at 4 months) and she is the first female i have ever had with incontinence, and i mean right from when i got her. she wil be sitting on my lap and all of a sudden i am soaking wet. believe me, this would get a lot of dogs homeless and in a shelter in a heartbeat. people need to wait until at least 6 months or a year for females. i know next dog i get they will be at least a year, maybe 2 before i de-sex them. incontinence is not a joke.

    • kate

      my 4 year old sheltie was not spayed til well over a year of age, and after her first heat, and she has developed some incontinence issues. it is easily managed with medication. and obviously she was not spayed “too young”.

  33. Mike Duval

    Tubal ligation and vasectomy is the way to go!!! Do it since many years in my shelter, the outcome is phenomenal (physical and psychological).

  34. Stephanie Trump

    http://www.petcaring.com/nonprofits/matthews-pups-need-tickets-to-ride-/39318

    This is why neutering is important.

    • goddess

      A tubal ligation and/or vasectomy would have stopped this and allowed the dogs to lead a more healthful life.

      • CD Prince

        What I don’t understand is why we aren’t doing more vasectomy based surgeries on dogs, rather than full hysterectomies on bitches. My rationale is this, I see the overpopulation, the closed mindedness, the ignorance everyday. If a simple snip at 2 years of age for males (not dissimilar to what many, many men have undergone) was available I am convinced we’d have a much healthier attitude, less indiscriminate breeding and dogs with increased longevity and decreased disease… surely this is possible.

  35. Robynne

    The article did say it was comparing dogs 12 mths and under. In europe they certainly dont understand why we desex so early. I have seen puppies exceed the height standard from early desexing. It is not all aimed at shelters, and i dont think all the above critisim holds merit either.
    I dont do 12 mthly vaccinations anymore and i am open to new suggestions.

  36. We LOVE this magazine! BUT you lost me on this article. NO WHERE does it talk about the chances of a dog and their off spring being euthanized due to overpopulation! It’s great having studies like this but to then have to depend on the public at large to be responsible is ridiculous. The chance that a dog would end up in a shelter from this approach I’m sure would be equally as high as any of the percentages listed. Not a good article for the general well being of ALL dogs not just some. Articles like this is what encourages idiots to breed and gives them an excuse doing so. YUK!

    • Idiots are going to breed whether they see this article or not. Our readers are enlightened and responsible pet owners and there is no problem with them keeping intact animals.

    • goddess

      Do you really think those idiots are reading Dogs Naturally? I’m guessing almost every single reader of their magazine knows about and understands the pet over population problem. They shouldn’t be denied important health information because idiots are going to be idiots.

      • W.R.Printz

        Well said.

        Suppressing info just to keep idiots in the dark, and we would have never left the dark ages.

        There are perhaps better ways to prevent animals from breeding that do not require the wholesale removal of organs.

      • We are a Poodle Rescue group and YES our facebook page has nearly 5,000 members and we print articles everyday from Dogs Naturally Magazine, it is one of our major sources of education, we have an ‘open’ page and ANYONE, even idiots can read what we post. Don’t think that just because this information is in this magazine that ‘others’ will not see it, that is naïve. I don’t question the benefits of not spaying and neutering in fact I have not researched it enough to pass judgment BUT my point is this would work for the RESPONSIBLE dog owner who monitors and keeps close watch on their dog, but the general public will take this article and run with it, as a reason not to spend the money to spay or neuter their dog/s along with the same irresponsibility to make sure they are not running free. Just as you have run with what I didn’t say.

    • TRF

      As has already been said, we really do not have an overpopulation issue. If we did, would people still be buying from breeders, shelters, and pet stores on a daily basis? I believe the HSUS did a study that shows at least 7 million people look to add a new pet to their home every year. What we need to do as animal rescuers (considering your name) is EDUCATE people and HELP people too keep their pets. Programs that vaccinate/microchip dogs in poverty stricken areas are a massive help. So are programs that offer dog food/cat food to people who lack money. We need to make connections with trainers and help owners find a trainer so work on their dogs behaviors so they do not need to surrender them in the first place. I agree that in the south we still need spay/neuter programs, because a lot of people are irresponsible with their dogs, but we shouldn’t be spaying/neutering peoples 8 week old puppies. We, as rescuers, should be looking in to and demanding the alternatives instead of fully spaying/neutering animals. I would imagine that not removing a dog’s uterus’ and testicles would be cheaper than what the current spay/neuter procedure is today, so it would actually be a win/win for rescues and shelters.

      Also, I am involved with rescue, before you think I “don’t know it first hand.” I work at a shelter and foster. I am all about saving animals and keeping them out of shelters. However, I shouldn’t be looked down upon because I don’t want to spay/neuter my animals. I’ll never breed, i’m simply not doing it because I care about my animals health and well being.

  37. Deb

    For those of you who think the article lacked depth, this was an ARTICLE, not a STUDY. The studies are referenced in the article.

    As for homeless pets, you can be a responsible owner with an intact pet and not contribute to the overpopulation problem. Put the blame where it belongs: irresponsible breeders, puppy mills, and uneducated owners. Quit trying to make the rest of America feel guilty, or be responsible, for what others are creating.

    • Jeri

      Don’t forget the numerous shelters who make no effort to rehome animals: don’t work with volunteers, don’t open the shelter to adopt the animals and/or hold hours which make it impossible to adopt an animal directly from the shelter; don’t hold off-site adoptions — in fact, do nothing to take killing healthy animals off the table. I live in the south and I know there are many shelters just like this. Until shelter employees/directors and the “boards” and city officials running them are held to account and forced to do the above, the numbers of animals in homes will not increase. I have seen volunteers working HARD to get the animals adopted — and shelters doing little in the way of marketing the animals. Volunteers do it all. Until paychecks are linked to results via CAPA legislation or something similar, nothing will change, sadly. Imagine an employee in corporate America producing little in the way of results and being paid for it! That’s the system we have in this country. Shelters get more money for killing than saving lives. That’s where the change needs to begin. The irresponsible pet owners will always exist, but that does not take responsibility away from the shelters to market their animals! (BTW, these types of shelters kill ferals on a regular basis because they cannot be adopted. No effort to institute T/N/R programs — which do save lives and also make more room for those healthy animals which are adopted.)

      • Jeri

        “…for those healthy animals which are adoptable” not “adopted”. Sorry!

  38. Kimbra

    Just wondered why you decided not to post my supportive comments.
    Thank you, Kimbra

  39. Angela Slawny

    I find this article to be biased and misleading. This was clearly written with the thought that spaying and neutering is bad for our pets. Some of what this author quotes as facts do not even make sense to anyone with the smallest amount of knowledge about veterinary science about the only thing I saw that made any sense was that obesity can be an issue for altered animals; however, that is the fault of poor owners not the surgery to alter the animal. There is very little information provided to back up these claims. I saw no mention of the risks or reproductive cancers that are completely eliminated by spaying and neutering our pets. I think it is unethical to scare people by claiming that spaying or neutering their animals puts them at risk for cancer. This entire article seems to be centered around one or two studies. Any study can be manipulated to show the results a biased scientist wants. Show me hundreds of studies that prove that you are correct and I might listen.

    Second, the writer of this article needs to spend a week working in an animal control facility. Get to know the animals and watch hundreds of thousands of animals put to sleep because of this irresponsible article. Come to a rescue group and fight on the front lines with us to save lives rather than sitting in your office and passing along irresponsible advice.

    • This article most certainly is biased and the title reflects that – it is three reasons why you might not want to spay/neuter. I believe that’s pretty clear. Speaking of bias, how many pet owners are informed of these dangers when vets urge them to spay/neuter? Virtually zero. Instead they hear about reproductive cancer (and if you read the studies we referenced, you would see that the incidence of ALL cancers increased with spay/neuter) and behaviour issues (and new research is showing the opposite to be true) and other scare mongering. What’s unethical is that the people who stand to gain financially from the surgery are the ones pushing it. I have nothing to gain from citing this research and, as you can see, it creates a large pushback that I’d rather not deal with, but it’s important that pet owners understand both the risk and benefit of spay/neuter and apparently vets aren’t going to do this. Hence the article.

      The writer of this article has indeed spent time in a shelter. My job was to decide who lived and who died and it wasn’t a nice job at all. But I’m intelligent enough to realize that this problem wasn’t created by my own intact dogs because I’m a responsible pet owner. Moreover, these dogs aren’t the product of unwanted litters because they all had homes before coming to the shelter – they are the product of irresponsible and unprepared people who think they want pets. Don’t you think that if you want to be a champion for rescue, you should do so in an intelligent and open minded manner? I think more people would respect your position if that were the case.

      Best regards,
      Dana Scott

      • Kimberly Adsit

        Most of those dogs are the products of unwanted litters, puppy mills, back yard breeders, and such. Unsuspecting owners purchased puppies from these people hoping to get a beautiful loving healthy puppy and in turn got puppies with seizures, abnormal bladders, behavioral issues, etc. If the world were truly made up of responsible breeders such as yourself then it would be a great place but you are few and outnumbered by the irresponsible, greedy, uncaring people of today’s society.

  40. Melissa

    Come on. Maybe we can stop spaying and neutering when the pet population is under control. Unless you want the percentage of euthanasia to increase the severe pet overpopulation needs to be dealt with first.

    • That time would be now. There isn’t a pet over-population problem – there is a pet retention problem. This is why communities that adopt mandatory spay/neuter don’t see a change in the number of shelter intakes. Let’s be logical about this – your dog’s health depends on it.

      • Your comment
        ” There isn’t a pet over-population problem – there is a pet retention problem”

        sums it all up and such a simple sentence which speaks volumes should be posted everywhere.

        Excellent article ..thank you

      • Sarah

        I think this may be a difference in locality. I work in a vet’s office and the number of people leaving boxes of puppies on the doorstep is staggering. This puppy season alone we have had 17 litters of puppies literally dumped on the doorstep. That’s just at a vet’s office. This isn’t counting the calls about found litters, unwanted litters and people asking if we can put up free to good home fliers. This is all just fron this season alone. The rural south is over run with unwanted puppies. It’s really heartbreaking.

      • Heather

        Dana, I appreciate you discussing possibly healthier alternatives to spay/neuter, but to say there’s not an overpopulation problem…. WHAT??? Come to Houston and let me show you around, and then tell me that.

  41. Michelle

    If its true, like this article says, that neutered dogs are more likely to have aggression and behavioral issues, then why is it that around 94% of fatal dog attacks across all breeds are unneutered males? According to statistics i’ve read, unneutered males are at least 2.6x more likely to bite than neutered. Everything I’ve read from sources that I trust indicate neutering lessens aggressive tendencies and my experiences working with dogs support that as well. I have seen countless articles and studies detailing the behavioral issues that come with not neutering and only this one to the contrary. I just cannot buy into this, especially since I work in dog rescue and see the effects of unintentional litters and over-population daily.

  42. Anna Clark

    I cannot believe you just told people in a long, boring article not to spay their pets. I can almost guarantee that at least 50% of people who STARTED reading never finished, which means they never saw anything about responsibility and overpopulation. And God help the idiots who don’t want to spend any money on their pets or cause their male dogs “frustration” from never getting layed. I am going to STOP sharing any of your links until I see what other poor information you are sharing.

    • goddess

      Do you think that the idiots who don’t want to spend money on their pets are reading Dogs Naturally magazine?

  43. nicole f

    We have a Labrador who came from a puppy farm having had 7litters. We got her spayed as she would have died having another litter. Every males dog in the town tryed to mount her and she couldn’t go off lead for months as couldnt risk it. Even now she’s been done they are all still trying. She also plays with many entire puppies- some who are just maturing, you can’t expect everyone to keep dogs on leads away from everyone they are used to playing with.
    Obviously show dogs are not neutered but they have serious training put in and you hardly see any playing in the park with other dogs- the few I have seen are trying to mount every dog it sees.
    There are also many benefits of neutering too. And many negatives of not neutering. Many breeds are at high risk of hip displacia and cancer- bought up healthily on a good diet and exercise and the dog will live a good life- rather than depend its life stuck indoors trying to break his neck trying to get to the female down the road

  44. This article is very poorly written. Either that, or the research was very poorly done. With half of the problems listed, they don’t state the age at which the dogs were spayed/neutered. They also mention nothing of what vaccines the dogs have had. Also, they don’t mention that Golden’s have a very high cancer risk to begin with.

    It’s well known that excessive vaccines can lead to various forms of cancer. And it’s also commonly believed (even by Dr. Jean Dodds, though there has been no formal study on it) that giving the rabies vaccine can cause temperament change, especially if done at the time of surgery.

    All of these things should have been taken into consideration when drawing their conclusions.

    I tell my puppy buyers to give ONE parvo/distemper vaccine, at 14 weeks or older. My contract stipulates that the dog cannot be altered until 12 months of age, and that the 1 year rabies vaccine cannot be given at the time of the surgery. If it is done so, it nullifies the guarantees of the contract. I have them initial that clause in the contract.

    Something that needs to be remembered is that most people aren’t prepared to deal with a bitch in heat. Having male dogs hanging around your house, fighting outside, is a hassle. Accidental breedings can be a problem. So can pyometra.

    Intact males can be perceived as a threat by other males, which can increase the risk of being attacked. The distraction of intact females can be a major issue, especially for a male who hasn’t been bred (and thereby knowing when to get worked up over a female, and when not to).

    I would love to see a study that takes these other factors into consideration.

    • Troy

      The article leaves out other important factors; overall health of the dog prior to study and/or spay.neuter, the diet the dogs were fed (garbage food vs healthy food), amount of exercise each dog received (source of cruciate injuries).

      • Jeri

        It’s not the article which is at fault here, but that information, to my knowledge, was not included in the studies done. (I have skimmed the studies but not read them verbatim, but it does not look like diet and vaccine schedules were taken into account. I agree. They should be because most of us know that the dog’s “terrain” and their level of immunity greatly impact the diseases they contract and whether or not they end up with these issues. I, too, would like to see studies include this information. I feel it’s imperative in order to draw definitive conclusions. (Also, the Viszla study raised the question of whether there were predisposing genetics in this breed which would predispose them to these issues. The study didn’t answer that, as far as I could tell.)

  45. Helen Kitchen

    This is an interesting article, but needs to say more about neutering older dogs when they are fully mature. I’ve also heard that neutering males after about age 7 will help AGAINST some cancers, esp testicular.

    • Danielle N. Rastetter, DVM

      I agree Helen. For my clients that insist on not neutering, I really try to have them neuter by 5-7 years of age to minimize/eliminate the medical risks.

  46. Cathy

    I have to agree with the posters that argue that not spaying and neutering will cost far more lives than spaying and neutering will, even with an increased risk of other issues due to early alteration. I have worked in rescue for many years, and there is no end to the number of animals that are euthanized daily due to overpopulation.

    Shelters have to make sure animals are altered before adoption simply because they don’t have the manpower to do follow-ups to make sure that they are altered after they are adopted. We would all love to wait until the animal is older to spay or neuter, but we don’t have the time or the space to hold them. The older a pet becomes (especially while awaiting adoption), the less adoptable it becomes in a shelter situation. The last thing any shelter worker wants to see is the offspring of an animal that they placed enter the shelter system. It’s not a risk we are willing to take.

    In a perfect world filled with responsible people perhaps a delay in alteration would be feasible, but since we all know that we don’t live in that perfect world, we have to take the responsibility to prevent an increased influx of unwanted pets into an already over saturated system.

    I would like you to run an article with the statistical data regarding euthanasia rates. I would venture to say that spaying and/or neutering could have prevented 100% of the deaths. Please, many people read the articles you publish and take them to heart. You owe it to them to clarify your position in support of the number of pets already awaiting adoption. As it stands, your article is likely going to cost many more lives than it is going to save. Can you live with that?

  47. Kimbra Wood

    The information in this article is substantiated and expanded upon by several other scientifically published studies and the veterinary career of DVM Karen Becker who was a self-proclaimed avid proponent of early spay and neuter – until she began to see the devastating results years later on the dogs she had been spaying and neutering in her practice. She also advocates sterilization rather than spaying and neutering. Please view her calm reasoned logic-based You Tube video at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enPCZA1WFKY To those who are understandably concerned about the full shelter problem: Thousands upon thousands of those dogs and cats are being shipped into our country annually from third world countries, where they are bred for this purpose in horrendous conditions, and then sent from state to state in the USA. We, the US citizen, unwittingly provide a “market” and incentive for this illicit practice to continue. This is a substantiated fact. Check the CDC. And yes, a raw diet, low vaccination rate, and keeping chemicals off of, and out of, dogs is far more healthful for them. The vast majority of dog owners don’t provide those benefits for their dogs, so most of the dogs in the studies cited were most probably eating a kibble based diet and exposed to the same types of chemicals, and still multitudes of studies demonstrate the longer longevity of intact over neutered and spayed dogs. The point is, the state of being spayed or neutered or being intact, was likely the only variable in such large studies.

    • goddess

      I wonder what the shelter situation would be if there were no puppy mills? Maybe the focus has been on the wrong thing entirely?

      • Pat

        I think you are right on. Stop puppy mills.

    • goddess

      I had a teacher in high school who used to say that in the end science can’t be denied. He wasn’t wrong, it’s just going to take some a long time to get there because it’s been drilled into our heads that we must spay/neuter our dogs. Next time I adopt a pet I will do much more of my own research and look into tubal ligation or a vasectomy.

      I wonder what the shelter situation would be if there were no puppy mills? Maybe the focus has been on the wrong thing entirely?

  48. alex

    mother nature also tells them to reproduce

  49. Sandy

    No mention of % of cancers of mammary glands and pyometria in non spayed? A lot of the cons for spaying/neutering can be greatly reduced by stopping the ever decreasing age at which it is carried out, common sense says it is stupid to spay/neuter an immature animal.

  50. Julie

    I think some other factors are lacking in these studies. Things that should be also considered:
    Owners of spayed/neutered dogs are more likely to bring their dogs to leashfree parks or allow them to run loose in fields. Many cruciate tears or ruptures are caused at leashfree parks when a dog is able to run full throttle and potentially another dog can even accidently hit them, or the dog’s rear leg falls into a hole that another dog dug earlier (that one actually happened to me with a rescue dog I owned that was neutered at 17 months!!)
    Also there are clear links to vaccines and cancers. Majority of owners that spay and neuter at 6 months or around are doing so as that is the advice their vet is giving them….I’m fairly confident that those same owners listen and comply when their vets recommend vaccines annually, and vaccines such as lepto, lyme etc. I can easily say in 16 years of working vet med, I saw many seemingly healthy golden Retrievers come in for vaccines and return a few months later with lymphoma, osteosarcoma or hemangiosarcoma (we did also see other cancers but those 3 being the top cancers in the breed). I also have seen the generations of Golden Retrievers begin to have more health problems. I feel (and it is merely my own opinion) that some breeders began producing quantity and not so much quality as the breeds popularity had some years of spikes. I have a neighbour that has had 5 Golden’s in 20 years. Their first 2 lived to ripe old ages of 14 and 15….their next one died at 4 from Lymphoma. They went to a different breeder for the next one, only to lose her at 3!!. Their new baby girl is 2 years old and they are following my regiment I follow with my furkids. Only puppy vaccines split up (no combo shots) and with the holistic counter agent for reactions. A raw diet with different meat proteins and veg/fruit (one that is specifically made for the needs of our dogs). I can’t promise them that their girl will live forever, but I can say I have had many of my own die of old age and most outlived the average life span of their breed.
    I can also state when I dealt with a lot of rescues a fair number of these dogs had been given up because of sexual maturity behaviours. Such as leg humping, house marking and more aggressive behaviours. Now in the right home perhaps these dogs neutered or not would not have developed these behaviour issues, but again after 16 years I have to admit I met a lot more families that didn’t know what they were doing with their dog then ones who did!! We can advise training, we can even give them all the research and information, but we cannot change someone who does not want to be educated or “doesn’t have the time”…in some cases reducing the risk of behaviour problems is better than the alternative. As well some times you get that owner that figures the dog is 2 years old or more so why bother now….then a year+ later they are having an emergency spay because of a pyometra, or a neuter for testicular cancer….intact males are more prone to hernias….females spayed after their first heat have an increased chance of mammry gland sarcoma (breast cancer!)…..we need to be able to see all the facts for this research. Genetics, environmental and medical factors play a strong role in these findings but they are not discussed in this article.

  51. Valerie R-Jones

    What everyone appears to forget is ………………… genetics are mainly responsible.

  52. Shawna McAlearney

    The person who wrote the title for this article is being disengenuous with their readers. Also, the conclusions seem very poorly supported. It apears the author likes to take a small snippet of information and then expound with their personal views rather than evidence. And, you jump to conclusions that spay and neuter is bad without looking at the timetables for spay/neuter beyond the limited timeframes in the studies. I hate to say it, but MOST owners are NOT responsible enough to manage unneutered animals, either in terms of overpopulation or in increased aggression/agitation around an intact female. Shame on you Dogs Naturally! The one reasonable nugget I will take from this article is: “In females, a partial spay, or ovary-sparing spay or tubal ligation are safer options. In males, vasectomy can also be a safer option. There is also a zinc injection that has recently come into favor. Hopefully this research will encourage more shelters to look into these safer and less intrusive options.” I hope you can work with a more responsible and thorough author next time around.

  53. Carrie-Anne

    I agree with other comments that this article really focuses more on alternative ways to deal with the issue so it’s title is misleading. I think it is great we are starting to look at pet health in more depth but articles like this can make the general public jump to conclusions that they are justified in not spaying/neutering their pets while also being irresponsible pet owners who contribute to over population. More extensive research combined with more public education on responsible pet ownership needs to be done before any drastic changes are made.

  54. Aurora

    All my dogs [and cats] have been spay/neutered and we’ve never had a bit of trouble over 60 years. All my dogs and cats have been raw fed, no and minimal vaccines and an eco-friendly environment. I believe this makes a HUGE difference! I have had dogs in racing trials and competitions, we’ve never had any leg muscle or tendon injuries of any sort despite very active dogs.

    When one feeds a grain based diet and over vaccinates, surrounds the animal in pesticides/insecticides it stands to reason their foundation of health will be sadly lacking and straining under the body burden.

  55. Joyce

    PET OVER POPULATION. Walk into any shelter and you we see countless reasons to spay and neuter.

    • Stan M

      Perhaps, Joyce, if you had actually read the article, you would have seen considerable discussion of the timing of these surgeries, and some proposed alternatives to the current practice.

      Our responsibility to domestic animals extends beyond concerns about overpopulation.

    • LovesDogs

      You’re seeing the results of irresponsible animal owners and bad/greedy breeders. Breeders and people who care enough to raise their animals naturally, aren’t that type. These are people who want their animals to have optimal health and the longest lives possible. That’s most important.

      Our family has owned many shelter/rescue dogs and we’ve seen lots of problems from spay and neuter. Females who become incontinent or leak urine, excitement urination also. We’ve also had several spayed females who excessively drank water after being spayed but didn’t do this before the surgery. Taking their hormones is like condemning the dog to menopause. Ask any woman suffering from this and she’ll tell you she’d give anything to be “normal” again. This isn’t acceptable to do to a healthy animal owned by a responsible person.

      Bone overgrowth is another problem, so is low thyroid which is an epidemic in the USA. Hormones are necessary for good health. Vets need to learn how to perform the new surgeries that leave the hormones but render the animals unable to reproduce. We know a local vet who does this.

      We currently have 2 intact females and 1 male. We aren’t going to breed them; we simply want them to have the best health/lives possible. We’ve had NO pregnancies and have never had any male dogs hanging around our home or neighborhood trying to get at our females. It’s easy to prevent this by keeping the dogs in your secure home and yard along with keeping the male from the females when they’re in season. The females also wear dog panties during this time.

      Thank God, we have choices – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Giving our animals the best health possible is what makes us and them happy. Just because you choose one path to follow, doesn’t mean everyone else should do the same or that its right for everyone. The shelter/rescue crowd has bullied people to make them feel it’s practically criminal to own any other type of pet. After owning rescued cats/dogs for many years, we now know why none of them were ever healthy. It’s impossible to have healthy animals raised on kibble, injected with poisons (vaccines) over and over again, dewormed with chemicals, given drugs and flea poisons, had their hormones removed, and all the rest of the toxic soup done to them. Unfortunately, that’s what comes with a shelter/rescue dog. Our family chooses to live a God-given, natural lifestyle – for us and our animals. We choose healthy, naturally raised dogs and there’s absolutely nothing to feel guilty about it in the least.

    • Chris

      Exactly!

  56. Martha Leary

    Maybe a better title for your article would have been a more responsible choice. How about “Better Ways to Spay/Neuter Your Pet”. Sending the message that spay/neuter is something we should NOT be doing will be devastating to all of us involved in reducing the amount of unwanted dogs.

    Your “studies” with the Goldens, etc. doesn’t address some core issues that greatly impact the health of a dog – the dogs’ diet (were they fed a species appropriate, vital nutrient, life force diet), the dogs’ exercise (were they allowed free run daily or were they at the end of a leash), what amount of time is spent in a crate (were they confined to a crate 5 hours a week, 9 hours a day as puppies, how many hours are they now crated), are they receiving annual vaccination, are they on chemical flea, tick and heart worm preventatives, what kind of chemicals are they living with in their environment (are they on grass that is treated chemically, in homes where chemicals are used to clean and wash bedding, etc) Any study done on dogs concerning health issues HAVE to factor in the care of the dog. If you ramdonly pull dogs without considering their owner’s choices for how they live you are negating a HUGE factor in the dog’s over all health.

    I find your article to be without depth and therefore without merit. Just reading the responses to this article on my facebook page tells me how people are taking this information and running with it. You owe all of us in rescue, the shelter workers and concerned citizens MORE. There might be better way to address our current spay/neuter approach and there will be people that wish to explore that but your article is lacking is so much for Dogs Naturally to address such a overwhelming problem in this country.

    Let’s start by addressing how truly healthy our dogs are before we decided that spay/neuter is the culprit for cancer, aggression, etc in our dogs.

    Martha Leary
    Star-Mar Rescue
    Wooster, OH.

    • Dawn Goldsmith

      Martha Leary I appreciate your comment and all you do in “dog rescue”.

  57. Shelley

    I have to disagree with this. You pointed out that neutering dogs before a certain age results in hip dysplasia. What about after that time period? Your articles seems more like an argument for delaying the process rather than total elimination.

    My rescue dog wasn’t spayed until she ended up in a shelter—at three years old. I’m thankful that she was spayed before adoption, because even though I am a responsible pet owner–there are many who aren’t. I’ve lost count of the number of times when loose male dogs ran up to my dog on the street (when I was walking her on a leash) to try to mate with her. if she had not been spayed, she would have gotten pregnant by now.

    With the shelter problem as bad as it is now–it will only get a lot worse if people don’t spay and neuter their dogs–if doing it later rather than earlier is better for their health–so be it, but it must be DONE.
    Compare the shelter situation in spay and neuter states to those in states such as Tennessee where the
    shelters are so full they have to ship the dogs up to NY to get adopted. Life on the street for a homeless dog is a lot more brutal than getting spayed or neutered. Until we resolve the shelter situation and the abundance of homeless animals, birth control methods such as spay and neuter are the only humane alternative.

    • Why will the shelter problem get worse if I don’t spay or neuter my dog? We’re talking about responsible dog ownership here, not life on the streets or dog fighters or throw-away moms or Tobacco Road.

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