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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24597888/

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"As legislators push for more mandatory spay and neuter laws for pets as young as 4 and 6 months in hopes of reducing the number of unwanted animals, critics are crying foul over research showing that such surgeries may raise certain health risks in dogs and therefore shouldn't be required.

The idea that pets should be spayed or neutered at approximately 6 months of age or earlier dates to studies in the 1960s and 1970s showing that spaying a female before her first estrus cycle almost eliminated mammary cancer — which is common in dogs — and that spayed and neutered dogs showed a decrease in behavior problems that can be fueled by sex hormones.

Spay/neuter surgery also has other benefits, including prevention of unwanted litters, no messy twice-yearly estrus cycles in females and a reduced rate of uterine infections later in life. Spayed and neutered dogs and cats also have longer lifespans.

Since the early studies were conducted, however, research has also shown downsides to the surgeries beyond acute side effects such as bleeding and inflammation.

Margaret V. Root Kustritz, a veterinary reproduction specialist at the University of Minnesota, reviewed 200 studies and found that while spay/neuter surgery has benefits, it is also linked to increases in the incidence of certain diseases and conditions such as bone cancer, heart tumors, hypothyroidism and canine cruciate ligament (CCL) injuries, as well as prostate cancer in male dogs and urinary incontinence in females. The extent of the risk can depend on the disease, as well as the size and sex of the dog, and the age the surgery is performed.

The risk of a type of cardiac tumor called hemangiosarcoma is five times higher in spayed female dogs than unspayed females, noted Kustritz. And neutered males have 2.4 times the risk of unneutered males. The risk was also higher for osteosarcoma (bone cancer): Dogs spayed or neutered before age 1 were up to two times as likely to develop the disease than those who hadn’t been altered.

Spaying and neutering may also heighten behavior problems such as aggression in some breeds and noise phobias in dogs altered at less than 5 months of age, she found.

While it's long been believed that spaying and neutering can improve a dog's behavior, one large study done at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine found that, with a few exceptions, spaying and neutering was associated with worse behavior, although those effects were often specific to certain breeds and depended on the age at which the dog was altered.

It seems that the bigger the dog, the less desirable it is to spay them early,says Hamil. In his practice, he recommends spaying or neutering large or giant-breed dogs later than small or medium-size dogs.

Veterinarians should consider the age for spay/neuter surgery based on the individual animal rather than rely on the traditional 6-month standard, says Khuly.

For instance, giant dog breeds are more at risk for some types of cancer, and akitas, German shepherds, golden and Labrador retrievers, Newfoundlands, poodles and Saint Bernards are among the breeds at higher risk for CCL ruptures.


Some veterinarians suggest spaying females at 12 to 14 months of age, after the growth plates have closed and between estrus cycles. Hamil says that's not unreasonable."
 

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I'm not a medical expert, but I wonder if tying the tubes rather than removing all the organs might help. It wouldn't interfere with the hormones and would also be easier on the animal.

Does anyone know if vascetomies or tubal ligations are used by vets?
 

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Fred's vet told me to wait from 8 months to a year. He didn't neuter him as a pup. I guess a lot of things depend on the vet. A lot of vets will not neuter a dog that is under 6-8 months.

When he got neutered, he did calm down a whole lot but he put on quite a bit of weight. He is not overweight, but before he was neutered he was slightly underweight. Now, he just an old fat hound with a big ole butt. :lol:
 

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I think it depends on the dog too. When we got Ruby, the breeder told us that in all of the other litters (of the same mother and father), they went into heat very early. As a result, we had Ruby done at a young age. Our vet was aware as he saw one of Ruby's sisters too.

Janice and little Ruby
 
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