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2013 study on adverse impact of neutering on health of dogs

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  • 700 dogs is considered a very small study. I can count 700 golden retrievers in my neighborhood! You can easily have off blanace results in a study group so small. Not saying there isnt any value to the study, but there needs to be a significantly larger group with golden retrievers kept as study dogs where 50% are intact and 50% are neutered and have them in the same environment. Although I personally dont love the idea, its the only way to have an accurate study. Too many environmental factors and genetic reasons why these studies are not always relevant. Sure, for this group of goldens it may have swayed one way....but what would happen if the next group it swayed another?

    I have no issues with people keeping intact dogs for "health reasons", but they need to understand the other side of the fence - there are also health issues associated with leaving them intact. As long as you feel comfortable with your decision, and can accept the consequences of either choice thats all that matters.

    Comment


    • The only study I will ever believe is if:
      a.) it has a realistic sample size (5000+)
      b.) representive from multiple gene pools
      c.) all kept in SAME environment, given SAME exercise, food etc.
      d.) randomly chosen 50% sterilized, 50% intact
      e.) REPEATABLE results

      Comment


      • Well, looky here! A study published the 17th (three days ago) that studied 40k dogs and refutes the "intact = better health" crowd's statements:


        http://www.plosone.org/article/info%...l.pone.0061082
        "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique

        Comment


        • Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
          The only study I will ever believe is if:
          a.) it has a realistic sample size (5000+)
          b.) representive from multiple gene pools
          c.) all kept in SAME environment, given SAME exercise, food etc.
          d.) randomly chosen 50% sterilized, 50% intact
          e.) REPEATABLE results

          The problem with such a study is that it would confound breed differences.

          Each breed is a closed genetic population, and has very different rates of different types of cancer, eye problems, urinary problems, cardiac problems, etc. Thus, a study that does not take breed differences into account is of limited usefulness.

          For example, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), an inherited eye disorder which leads to blindness, occurs in a number of breeds. The commercially available genetic test for this, a routine screening tool for breeding stock, is breed specific, i.e., you cannot use the Irish Setter genetic test for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, to determine whether your potential breeding animal is clear, affected, or a carrier.

          Similarly, there are ocular cone disorders that are found in Alaskan Malamutes and Briards that lead to loss of cone function and then affects rods, to the point where photophobia and blindness may result. This is a model for a human blindness condition which is caused, in humans, by a virus.

          A very major issue is of course the various types of cancer. The prevalence of osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and mast cell tumors (among others) vary greatly among dog breeds, from each being a major cause of death in some breeds, to being almost unheard of in other breeds.

          Therefore, a study which lumps all dogs together in terms of mortality and morbidity is of limited usefulness.

          Comment


          • Kenike, thank you for posting this, and I am sure it will engender much discussion!

            However, it has exactly the flaws I discussed above, it lumps dogs of all breeds together, despite the huge genetic differences among occurrences of diseases, especially cancers, among breeds (not simply sizes).

            Even so, it is amazing that despite that, the intact animals fared better with certain types of cancer, especially considering that the sample included lots of breeds which have a very low rate of these cancers.

            It is also interesting that a major cause of mortality in the intact dogs was "infectious diseases". Distemper? Parvo? So many infectious diseases of dogs do have a vaccine which is available. I wonder if the population of intact dogs in this study included many unvaccinated intact dogs? If so, the results do not inform the decisions of owners who do vaccinate their dogs. I wonder if the data were reanalyzed, eliminating mortality data from unvaccinated dogs, what it would look like.

            I also wonder whether this data could be re-analyzed by breed. The best studies of mortality/morbidity I have seen in dogs are from the Swedish dog insurance company, Agria. They have data on each vet visit of each dog, by breed, and it is fascinating to see graphs of, say, skin disorder or digestive disorder, by breed. Each breed has a distinct constellation of systemic issues for which veterinary help is sought.

            Here is a good discussion of the various s/n studies:

            http://www.greatbasinnewfs.com/SPAY%20&%20NEUTERING.htm

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Houndhill View Post
              The problem with such a study is that it would confound breed differences.

              Each breed is a closed genetic population, and has very different rates of different types of cancer, eye problems, urinary problems, cardiac problems, etc. Thus, a study that does not take breed differences into account is of limited usefulness.

              For example, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), an inherited eye disorder which leads to blindness, occurs in a number of breeds. The commercially available genetic test for this, a routine screening tool for breeding stock, is breed specific, i.e., you cannot use the Irish Setter genetic test for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, to determine whether your potential breeding animal is clear, affected, or a carrier.

              Similarly, there are ocular cone disorders that are found in Alaskan Malamutes and Briards that lead to loss of cone function and then affects rods, to the point where photophobia and blindness may result. This is a model for a human blindness condition which is caused, in humans, by a virus.

              A very major issue is of course the various types of cancer. The prevalence of osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and mast cell tumors (among others) vary greatly among dog breeds, from each being a major cause of death in some breeds, to being almost unheard of in other breeds.

              Therefore, a study which lumps all dogs together in terms of mortality and morbidity is of limited usefulness.


              You could absolutely do a study based on a larger single breed population. Why would you think it not be possible?

              There are large study groups of beagles, this could be done with any other group.

              I still think the MAJOR flaw in all these studies is that they are not done in a controlled environment. Pesticides, organophosphates etc. that are linked to cause human cancers can also effect dogs. For example, on "average" its the wealthier population that spay/neuter their pets, who also live in houses with lawns...that may have been treated with pesticides. They may also be let to run around in dog parks, potentially rupturing curciates compared to intact dogs who may not ever be off leash. These are just two very small examples. Environment plays a HUGE role in diseases for our pets. Without a controlled environment these studies can really be irrelevent.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
                You could absolutely do a study based on a larger single breed population. Why would you think it not be possible?

                There are large study groups of beagles, this could be done with any other group.

                I still think the MAJOR flaw in all these studies is that they are not done in a controlled environment. Pesticides, organophosphates etc. that are linked to cause human cancers can also effect dogs. For example, on "average" its the wealthier population that spay/neuter their pets, who also live in houses with lawns...that may have been treated with pesticides. They may also be let to run around in dog parks, potentially rupturing curciates compared to intact dogs who may not ever be off leash. These are just two very small examples. Environment plays a HUGE role in diseases for our pets. Without a controlled environment these studies can really be irrelevent.
                Oh, I absolutely think breed specific studies are possible, and extremely important to do!

                However, I think they can only be done in an epidemiological framework, with dogs living in existing homes with their owners. Yes, you can do studies with beagles, or labs, and some others where they live in a laboratory environment in a university or dog food company environment, where variables are controlled, dogs are randomly assigned to study conditions, etc.

                But, increasingly, the ethics of this type of study are questioned. Many would be horrified at the though. Just like with humans, it can be impossible to rear them in identical conditions, yet epidemiological studies can be useful and informative if well done.

                As far as ownership of intact animals, my sense is you are correct as far as this study goes, The wealthier population tends to s/n in general, and those with intact animals are less wealthy. However, there may be a difference when you consider the show dog population. Show dogs have to be intact. Show dog owners, I would guess, may not be less wealthy in general than pet dog owners. There may be a bi-phasic curve, with some intact dog owners being less wealthy, and others more wealthy, compared to owners of s/n dogs.

                Yes, I agree about the potential impact of lawn treatment, plastics exposure, etc....difficult to tease out these effects.

                Ideally we would do the randomized controlled group studies with humans, too, but ethics limit us to doing these kinds of things with mice, certainly I would not ever want even one Irish Wolfhound to live in a laboratory setting.

                Comment


                • there is no law requiring you to spay or neuter your pet, so i dont know what the anxt is about. if you are responsible and believe its healthier, then you can choose to keep your pets intact.

                  as for me, if i choose to spay or neuter, it is my choice and regardless of your obvious bias, it does not make me a bad dog owner.

                  as for rescues and organizations that spay , they are dealing with the public that breeds indiscriminately, and has no responsibility, and , in many cases, are forced to put hundred of health animals to sleep weekly, and you think that they should adopt out their pets intact?

                  see, i question your objectivity in this

                  Comment


                  • Honestly, I haven't read the entire thread. I will say that I spay and neuter for my own benefit as well as for my dogs. I have male and female dogs. I DO NOT want to deal with a bitch in heat. I DO NOT want to worry about my male dogs competing over said bitch. I DO NOT want puppies, as adorable as they may be.

                    If I possibly sacrifice a small percentage of health benefits for my convenience, I will do it. Perhaps that's selfish, but I have to live with my dogs, my job, my horses. We all die. If I've saved them from being euthed (a majority of my dogs are pound puppies), then I've given them time and a lifestyle they wouldn't have had without me. If 1 in 10 dies a year or two early because of my decision, I can actually live with that.

                    StG

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by chisamba View Post
                      there is no law requiring you to spay or neuter your pet, so i dont know what the anxt is about. if you are responsible and believe its healthier, then you can choose to keep your pets intact.

                      as for me, if i choose to spay or neuter, it is my choice and regardless of your obvious bias, it does not make me a bad dog owner.

                      as for rescues and organizations that spay , they are dealing with the public that breeds indiscriminately, and has no responsibility, and , in many cases, are forced to put hundred of health animals to sleep weekly, and you think that they should adopt out their pets intact?

                      see, i question your objectivity in this
                      I don't know what "anxt" is, (not in the dictionary) or whether this is dircted towards me personally, but I have said repeatedly that I believe all shelter/rescue dogs should be s/n. I do not think you are a bad dog owner if you choose to s/n, I have done so myself.

                      And, there is nothing wrong with owner convenience being taken into account in this decision. I have four geldings. If research revealed stallions lived longer......I would still have four geldings.

                      That said, yes, there is legislation for mandatory s/n in some localities. However, I believe this is a complex decion which should be left up to the owner, in consultation with his/her vet, who should be as informed as possible with as much info as research can provide.

                      If that is not as objective as you would prefer, how would you like it to be stated?

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Houndhill View Post
                        I don't know what "anxt" is,
                        I think anxt = angst.

                        StG

                        Comment

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