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Scientific journal articles about spaying and neutering
  • HanakoHanako
    Posts: 110
    Has anyone read any scientific articles that have been published in peer reviewed journals? Or know where I can start looking?

    [recategorized] [mod note: changed title to include neutering as well for search purposes]
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2013-02-16 16:46:12
  • I am also interested in this ... my search has left me with lots of questions:

    some of the new thought process is to wait a little longer (for neutering - not sure about spaying) because of needing the hormones to "set" the platelets? Wait until 9 to 12 months of age? ... this should be fun for the leg-lifting teen years!

    I will need to re-search the articles so that I can post them for the Forum's comments.

  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2516
    @Tallygroup In my experience, neutering does nothing to stop leg-lifting. Nor humping, or seeking out females in heat, roaming, or any of those other "undesirable" male behaviors. But every dog is different and you never know what will happen.

    Anywho, I'll echo what the others have said. Google and pumbed is where I'd start. I used to have tons of papers and links on this but they were on my old computer which is... somewhere... so I can't be of much help right now.
    Post edited by Losech at 2013-02-02 21:09:06
  • There was an article in Whole Dog Journal this month. I think there is some pushback on very early spay/neuter. There seems to be little health benefit to neutering, while spaying prevents pyometra. I thought their odds of pyo were way out of whack - 1/4 of all bitches will get pyo. That number sounds way high.
  • DebDeb
    Posts: 286
    Here's an eye opener for you, a study done at Rutgers in 2007:

    And this would be just another interesting study to me if in 1989 I hadn't had an Akita that was neutered at six months and by the time he was two had ALL of the negative side effects listed in this study. Of course, the study wasn't out until 2007, but it still made me cry when I read it.

    My Akita lived until he was nine with lots of treatments and thousands and thousands of dollars. I knew the breeder, his dogs and genetic lines. There was not another case of these ailments in any of his littermates or the parents or grandparents. Everyone was stymied, the breeder, the vet and tests were even done at Tufts with no concrete results.
    He was fine until he was about two years old, then he started having problems such as: violent adverse reactions to vaccines, lupus/auto-immune blood issues, hypo-thyroid, displasia, bone cancer.

    So, that was a worst possible case with the neuter. You'll see in the study the spay section the information isn't as cut and dried.

    Here is another study you might find interesting done by the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania: Symposium Docs/Duffy2.pdf

    This one shows spay neuter can cause more behavior problems than it solves but this study was done breed specific and there wasn't a Shiba group.
    Post edited by Deb at 2013-02-03 09:46:55
  • Gene23Gene23
    Posts: 47
    Damn. Those articles have totally changed my thoughts on neutering Wallace. I was going to wait until it appeared he was physically mature. But now it only feels right to keep him intact, unless for medical reasons.

    Thank you for this thread.
  • Gene23Gene23
    Posts: 47
    @Deb I am sorry about your Akita.
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
    Post edited by Rikka at 2013-02-03 13:33:47
  • DebDeb
    Posts: 286
    You may not like what those two scholarly publications said, however, they are published scientific studies that have been peer reviewed prior to publication by authors from noted Veterinary Colleges.

    The point is, it is impossible to make an informed decision regarding timing of spay and neuter without being as fully informed as possible. Published scientific studies out of Veterinary Colleges are a reliable source for this kind of information. It really helps to look at all of the issues that are explored in these publications and not get caught up in one or two pet peeve side issues.

    Regardless of ideas some other people have about someone else's dog being spayed or neutered by some arbitrary age, the true responsibility lies only with the owner of the pet. Their ability to make an informed decision is crucial.
    Post edited by Deb at 2013-02-03 21:53:50
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • My dog was intact until he was 9. Somewhere in my neighborhood is an unspayed female. I could always tell when this dog, or dogs, was in heat because he lost his mind. He would sit out on the deck or stand by the corner of the fence for hours just sniffing the wind. He developed prostatis when he was 9 and was in so much pain I had him neutered. It took almost a week before his prostate returned to normal size - sometimes it doesn't. He reacts badly to pain meds so he suffered, and there was nothing I could do for him.
    He doesn't sit out on the deck driving himself bonkers anymore.
  • Gene23Gene23
    Posts: 47
    Alright. A more informed decision will be made because of this thread. After a year seems best. Maybe up until the hormones are just too much to handle. I am not worried about leg-raising. I honestly prefer this method over squatting and getting his hind paws wet. I, however, dont want him suffering from canine blueballs.
  • Gene23Gene23
    Posts: 47
    or accidental breeding. I would not encourage it, as Wallace is not from a reputable breeder.
  • Weigh carefully but don't get too stymied by all the research. It is good in it's context but way more to has to be done before we dump out the baby with the bath water in terms of sp/neuter. An aspect of reasonableness is good thing….. Such as avoiding pediatric sp/netuer (under 5 months) if possible.


    Some highlights after reading:

    "More than 50 peer-reviewed papers were examined to assess the health impacts of spay / neuter in female and male dogs, respectively. One cannot ignore the findings of increased risk from osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism, and other less frequently occurring diseases associated with neutering male dogs."

    ---however I would like to point out that there are breed propensities to these diseases and Shibas or pariah breeds most likely were not evaluated in this study. Also the correlation is not always indicative of causation. Even the best peer review studies can miss that element. A further look into all of the research data would better ferret the specifics of the research out. FWIW, there are multiple peer reviews or review committees and some are a little more sound than others (regardless of curriculum).

    "The balance of long-term health risks and benefits of spay/neuter will vary from one dog to the next. Breed, age, and gender are variables that must be taken into consideration in conjunction with non-medical factors for each individual dog. Across-the-board recommendations for all pet dogs do not appear to be supportable from findings in the veterinary medical literature."

    ----Absolutely True. Really I think this is the most important aspect of this article and putting it into perspective for the Shibas in our care.

    "There are some indications that purebred dogs may be at higher risk than mixed breed dogs, and purebred dogs with high inbreeding coefficients may be at higher risk than those with low inbreeding coefficients20. More investigation is required to determine if these are significant."

    ---- Absoutely for all cases…. Particularly for the Shiba breed, which has it own genetic issues and proclivities, not in all things but in many things mentioned.

    ---In addition and in regard to hyperthyroidism, there is no mention of the genetic influence on this or region of dog ownership for the studies. I would think OFA is one area that can be tapped for more info if the data is available. Again it is unknown from this article about the specific data and what has occurred since then. In six years a lot can change in the research arena.

    --Immune response to vaccines. Shibas have the one of the highest propensities for atopy and allergy responses. Sp/neutered or unaltered, it is an issue in both categories. Observations over time appear to indicate autoimmune issues like these tend to be genetically linked and how they react in regard to immunity receptors.

    "With respect to the long- term health risks and benefits associated with spay/neuter in dogs. The evidence shows that spay/neuter correlates with both positive AND adverse health effects in dogs. It also suggests how much we really do not yet understand about this subject."

    --Yes so true, much depends on breed, family history, region and care. What is risky for a Rottie may not be as much so for Shibas in regard to genetics, growth, and maturity. Hormonally there is much to be discovered. In humans it isn't a perfect science yet either. In some regard, the area of autoimmune disorders and hormones are really the most speculative and inconclusive.

    PS: About sp/neuter. Really in my opinion with a Shiba one will have a much nicer relationship with their dogs once no longer intact resulting in less worries for management. When your male is near animals in season, or your female is in estrus it is difficult to manage..... it's really easy to underestimate the care required. Males can be absolutely inconsolable fruit loops and females such slut muffins that it will embarrass most company. Females do not go through menopause and I have observed 12 year old dogs unknowingly bred come into the vet only to have a c-section and die because their owner was unaware, as the dog never left their yard. So sad to see a beloved cherished animal have to go through that.
    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2013-02-04 11:26:18
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    Everyone needs to remember every stat can be altered and finding correlations does not always relate to having correct causality.

    In a round a bout way my thoughts have been pointed out:

    1) Each breed has its own unique set of health issues, therefore understanding that first and how it would impact the study results is very important before drawing any conclusions

    2) Each breed develops at different rates, therefore understanding that first and how it would impact the study results is very important before drawing any conclusions

    3) Drawing results of studies out to breeds other than those in the study does a disservice to the ohter breeds that were not in the study

    I agree with spay/neuter as a choice, but I do believe in my gut that it should be done only at the point that the dogs growth stage is completed or mostly completed.

    I worry for my rescue mixed breed Tanjiro as he came out of the shelter and had neuter forced on him before 2 months old, I firmly believe this will impact his growth and health. don't believe it will ever be able to conclusively know how though as not everything is linked to nature and choices in how you nurture (ie feed, train, expose to environments) can compound or minimize these potential issues.

    I waited until 10 months when Bear wasn't showing significant growth anymore to neuter him. I didn't mind dealing with very clear hormonal changes for about 2-3 months as I saw him begin to do things like lift his leg, become wrestles when the unspayed female down the block went into a heat cycle, ect. There was a difference in some of his behaviors about 2-3 weeks after neutering, specifically reduced need to mark every 10 feet on our walks. But I don't draw a clear conclusion even in my observation of his changes after being neutered, because he was also continuing to mature emotionally and I was continuing to reinforce training, so who is to say what changed due to nature vs what was changing due to nurture?
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
  • DebDeb
    Posts: 286
    OK, so it was with considerable trepidation that I answered the original poster with the information requested, peer reviewed scientific articles. Knowing full well it would cause somewhat of an uproar, as the information contained in these studies can be construed as upsetting the apple cart. In reality it doesn't, it's just scientifically studied, peer reviewed and published Veterinary articles. It is reliable and useful information.

    I assumed @Hanako requested this information to better be able to separate the grain from the chaff with regard to this issue. While magazine articles, web sites and candid opinions are interesting, it is hard to tell what is scientifically proven and what is not with the aforementioned three sources.

    Information from peer reviewed scientific articles is valuable and so is layperson discussion of that information. Sometimes people take serious offense and try to pick apart and discredit these scholarly works. Mostly, these offended people are not scientifically credible, no MS or PHD. Even if the information isn't breed specific, people can draw solid referenced information with which to make a better decision with respect to timing.

    @StaticNfuzz FYI the OFA has records indicating only 50 Shiba have recorded thyroid test results. That is only fifty in all the time OFA has been archiving information. Great suggestion to look there, but it doesn't bear enough fruit for this information. OFA is a reference for intact dogs more than pets, as most people who aren't looking toward responsible breeding do not have their dogs tested and recorded. Whether or not someone OFA tests is certainly one indication of the type of breeder they are. There is pretty much no reason for neutered and spayed pets to have these certifications. It would be great to have the information, but most pet owners are not interested in performing and paying for these tests and recording results with OFA when there is no chance of their pets having offspring. It's a moot point making OFA information biased toward intact individuals intended for breeding purposes. And even then, responsible breeders usually only test animals they are fairly sure will be good breeding prospects and they want to use them in their program. OFA is done at two years of age and not before due to waiting for growth plates to close, in other words, physical maturity.

    Post edited by Deb at 2013-02-04 14:59:53
  • @Deb - I don't think anyone was offended by your posting of the articles. Personally I agree that peer reviewed scholarly articles are the best source for this sort of information. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with scrutinizing how a study was conducted. It helps us to better understand the result. Peer review does sometimes fail. It's a fact of life. Some of our recent academic scandals are an example (see the hullaboo about Marc Hauser or the recent study done by Mark Regnerus).

    @Hanako - the articles @deb posted are a good start, as is the pubmed suggestion from @curlytails. If you have a university affiliation do an advanced search on Proquest as well.

    [edited to add - I mean thoughtful scrutiny based on the general standard of what makes good scholarship.]
    Post edited by violet_in_seville at 2013-02-04 14:05:09
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • Deb: Interesting there is only 50 to work with in OFA... it is only helpful if a full population of breeders releases individual data for use.

    The information and the research links are helpful and I hope individuals can delineate the information in a fashion that helps weigh the issues at hand. Not all is cut and dry even if it is critiqued. No one is admonishing the reading of the literature .... Why the sensitivity, it seems you are bashing of other's education levels? Never assume.

    In my mention of post above and perceived anecdotal musings in regard to immunology issues, refer to the following:

    References :

    Kummel, B. A. (1990). Color Atlas of Small Animal Dermatology. C.V. Mosby Company, Ed

    Kummel, B.A. (1994). Small Animal Dermatology. Mosby International, St Louis. Out-of-Print .

    Masuda K., Sakaguchi M., Fujiwara S., Kurata K., Yamashita K., Odagiri T., Nakao Y., Matsuki N., Ono K., Watari T., Hasegawa A., Tsujimoto H.: Positive reactions to common allergens in 42 atopic dogs in Japan, Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 73 (2000), pp. 193-204.

    Ohno K., Konishi S., Kobayashi S., Nakashima K., Setoguchi A., Fujino Y., Nakayama H., Tsujimoto H.: Prognostic factors associated with survival in dogs with lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis, The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 68 (2006), pp. 929-933.

    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2013-02-04 15:56:22
  • Thanks Violet, having access to online search databases is quite helpful to further investigate the topics at hand.

    Thanks for your input Lindsay on the costs.....the expense factor is really significant isn't it. I can see it would deter some.

    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2013-02-04 15:04:47
  • Interesting Cooley, Beranek, Schlittler et. al. state:

    "An association between body size and bone sarcoma risk in dogs is well documented. Across different dog breeds, body size is the strongest predictor of risk for osteosarcoma (16 , 17) . However, no studies have used measures of body size such as adult height or weight obtained from individual dogs of the same breed to determine whether these factors significantly influence risk of bone sarcoma."

    ---I wonder when they will go beyond one breed such as Rotties to factor the risk ratio across the board.

    ---Yeah Dr. Zink has her views and not everyone agrees with them in their entirety. However, she does have access to a lot of orthopedic cases so I think there is something to her observations from the day to day. I know she was working with ongoing research last fall and continuing to collect data across all breeds. I hope she will aggregate some of the differences and activities that people do with their dogs to get a better picture. Off topic.....She is packed with a ton of info if anyone gets a chance to talk with her or have an eval done.


    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2013-02-04 16:12:44
  • @staticnfuzz (hi Patrice), thanks for listing some of your sources. For someone like me, I find it really useful though I understand why we don't typically do things like footnotes on the shiba forum.

    @lindsayt - I did not know about the hypothyroid test submission costs for OFA! I was thinking about submitting results when we get all of Vi's testing done (not because we suspect any issues but to get a full baseline for the future) but may reconsider due to costs. What are the glaucoma tests?

    @Deb - actually I have a spayed female that I was going to get tested and registered with OFA just to provide more info since I do feel it's helpful. My vet actually dissuaded me since she felt the fact that the dozen or so closely related dogs (parents, siblings, sibling's offspring) that had been tested made it superfluous.

    As for spay/neuter age, I hope the studies work in conjunction with breeder recommendations. While there is a legal obligation on the part of the puppy owner, if their breeder is responsible and the relationship is as it should be, then spay/neuter procedures are discussed with the breeder.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    I thought I would add this recent article I came across this morning regarding this issue for those in the future still seeking knowledge to make an informed decision. While I chose to neuter my older boy at 10 months, I didn't have that same choice with my adopted boy who was neutered by the animal rescue system before 2 months old.

    I don't know what decisions I would make in the future as I gain more knowledge.

    Please note this link is about a Golden Retriever study and it is important to remember things can vary breed to breed also, but I thought it would provide more information on this subject to those struggling with this decision.
  • Kiba0713Kiba0713
    Posts: 259
    Here is the article/blog I referenced in a neutering thread, it references some scientific research articles and was written by a vet near me who is against routine and early neutering.
    Post edited by Kiba0713 at 2014-02-24 06:35:41

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