Spaying or Neutering Your Dog? Think Again!

Once a huge advocate of spaying or neutering every dog early in life after being in private practice for a few years, Dr. Becker noticed many of her canine patients were developing endocrine-related disorders.

After a conversation with an expert in the field of veterinary endocrinology, Dr. Becker realized her practice of insisting on early spays or neuters for every dog patient had left many of them with serious health problems.

Dr. Becker quickly changed her recommendation for her patients from automatic spays or neuters, and the younger the better, to a more holistic approach in which surgeries, including sterilization and desexing, should only be performed when there’s a medical necessity.

She also believes shelter pets should be sterilized rather than desexed (spayed or neutered) in order to preserve their sex hormones.

Health Issues Linked to Spaying and Neutering Dogs

Before Dr. Becker discuss some of the health issues now associated with desexing dogs. First she points out that there are two medical conditions that actually can be totally eliminated by desexing: 
  1. Benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH (enlarged prostate), 
  2. Pyometra (a disease of the uterus). 
A wealth of information is mounting that preserving innate sex hormones, especially in the first years of life, may be beneficial to pets, whereas the risk of pyometra or BPH in an animal's first year of life is incredibly low.

Scientific evidence is mounting that gonad removal can deliver serious consequences to a dog’s future health. 

Among those consequences: 
  • Shortened lifespan
  • Atypical Cushing’s disease
  • Cardiac tumors
  • Bone cancer
  • Abnormal bone growth and development
  • CCL ruptures
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Breed-specific effects of spay/neuter
  • Other health concerns. Early spaying or neutering is commonly associated with urinary incontinence in female dogs and has been linked to increased incidence of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.
Options to traditional full spays and neuters are hard to come by both in the U.S. and Canada, because veterinary schools don’t teach alternative sterilization procedures. 

Fortunately, we’re slowly waking up to the fact that spaying and neutering – especially in very young animals -- are creating health problems that are non-existent or significantly less prevalent in intact pets.

Most Americans can't even comprehend that it's possible to keep intact pet dogs and not have millions of litters of unwanted puppies. 

That's because we've been conditioned to believe that a responsible pet owner means spaying and neutering your dog. Dr. Becker was taught to believe the same thing -- that keeping an intact pet was considered irresponsible even if the owner is meticulously careful about not allowing the pet to breed.

Of course, our dependence on spaying and neutering as the only form of birth control is the result of generations of irresponsible pet owners and millions of unwanted dogs and cats that are killed annually in our animal shelters.

It is a vicious cycle, and it's a very frustrating cycle to witness. Irresponsible people need to have sterilized pets. No one's going to argue that point.

Unfortunately, spaying and neutering responsible people's pets doesn't make irresponsible people any more responsible. They remain the root cause of the overpopulation crisis in this country.

The problem with the spaying and neutering issue is it's the only current solution to the overpopulation problem. 

We're not just halting the animal's ability to reproduce, we are also removing incredibly valuable sex hormone-secreting tissues like the ovaries and the testes. These organs serve a purpose.

We're slowly waking up to the fact that in our rush to spay or neuter every possible animal we can get our hands on – the younger, the better – we are creating health problems, sometimes life-threatening health problems, that are non-existent or significantly less prevalent in intact pets.

Ownership of an intact dog, male or female, is not for everyone. It takes time, effort, vigilance, and often, a thick skin.

If you are an irresponsible pet owner who allows your intact pet outside without a leash and direct supervision, this video is not for you.

Please sterilize your pet before allowing him or her outside again, as you are contributing to the overpopulation problem. 

Please rethink how you care for your pet, or consider not having pets.

Dr. Becker: "Whenever I discuss scientific evidence related to the health risks of spaying and neutering I receive a lot of negative feedback from people who are absolutely certain I'm encouraging pet overpopulation and irresponsible pet ownership. So, I decided to make a video to explain to those who are standing in judgment why nothing could be further from the truth."

Dr. Becker discusses the ins and outs of owning an intact male or female dog and the steps necessary to prevent pregnancy.

See Dr. Beckers full story about this controversial subject plus view her video by clicking here.

Images submitted by PNM

The Daily Progress: Sterilizing pets brings health and behavioral benefits, but debates remain.