I often get asked if I will make an exception for a well meaning family. The request usually starts something like “I just lost my golden to cancer, he was only six years old. Aren’t they to young at that age, I always heard that you should do that when they are six months old. I don’t want to breed but I do want to let my kids experience one litter. My vet said…. ” Well gee those are all great reasons for me to not have to spend the extra fee to my veterinarian to perform early spay & neuter. Sorry not today.
Let me be clear that there has been one study done to date, done in 2004 (12 years ago as I sit and write this in 2016) on two breeds already riddled with cancer and hip dysplasia. With no genealogical history of health testing on prior generations and a very small gene pool of 1,842 dogs. From that one study there are a lot of articles that have been written that all copy-cat one another and say the same thing.
First we do need to identify that any dog spayed or neutered prior to two years of age is considered pediatric or early spay/neuter. Regardless if it was done at seven weeks, six months or a year of age.
Let me cut right to the facts! There is a 2% increased risk of an issue developing on dogs that underwent pediatric spay or neuter. BUT that is not a 2% increase from the population that is a 2% increase of the existing cases which is 4.7%. So the math goes something like this: 4.7% of 1,842 dogs is 86 dogs that develop hip dysplasia, and a 2% increase in that number is 123 dogs. Additionally if one of those 1,842 dogs didn’t undergo early spay or neuter and they later developed a treatable but life altering condition they are three times as likely to be euthanized!
Lets look at this in real life numbers. How many people do you know with a dog? 10? more? less? Lets just stick with you having 10 friends with dogs. Mathematically not even one of your friends has a dog that has hip dysplasia but there is .47% change that one could. Now if all 10 of your friends purchased puppies from breeders who did early spay and neuter then you still don’t have a single friend with a dog with hip dysplasia but there is a .67% that you might know one person in your lifetime that does!
Some of the things that bother me about this topic
- The researchers looked at two AKC breeds who already have the highest rate of cancer and hip dysplasia of all AKC breeds.
- They used dogs from the shelter with no health information. Had they used dogs from good breeders who performed health testing they would have has base rate to evaluate from but with no information we must assume that all of the dogs come from puppy mills that perform no testing at all, the parents could have hip dysplasia and cancer which automatically increases the offsprings genetic disposition to developing the condition.
- There are a lot of articles out there on the internet they are all emotion driven and give no real statistical data from the research. They just say the risk is higher or greatly increases.
- The research is 12 years old already! We have been doing pediatric spays & neuters since 2004 with less than two issues not related to the surgical procedure.