Authored by Leah Yusuf
If you were to ask almost anyone with a dog these days their opinion about spaying and neutering you would most certainly find it to be a favorable procedure amongst the masses. Sterilization has become a tool used to combat the overpopulation of dogs (and cats), to prevent cancer and other diseases of the reproductive system and eliminate marking, wandering and dominance related aggression.
Sterilization has been around since the 1940’s, and while it really gained popularity in the late 80’s and early 90’s, researchers are now looking at the health costs versus benefits of the procedures very differently.
The following list of diseases, complications and ailments have shown a higher incidence in dogs who were spayed and neutered as juveniles:
– Anterior Cruciate Rupture
– Prostatic cancer
– Urinary incontinence
– Urinary tract infection
– Hip dysplasia
– Mast cell tumors
– Distorted bone development
– ADD-Attention Deficit Disorder
Unfortunately, the list of health costs seem to outweigh the health benefits when it comes to sterilizing your companion!
Considering this list, one has to wonder why there is such a push to spay and neuter, especially at a young age. Many skeptics say that it is nothing more than a cash grab for Veterinarians, but again, it would depend on who you’re asking. While the notion of population control is a noble one, is it really that noble when it poses so many health risks to our companion animals? I believe that it is an extremely important question to ask when making that decision.
The fact is, the decision as to whether you spay or neuter isn’t one that should be taken lightly. You need to decide beforehand whether you are willing and able to live with an intact dog or dogs depending on your circumstance. For females this means having to deal with heat cycles and all that comes in tow. For example, constant supervision during her cycle, spotting, hair loss, and digestive issues. All things that are manageable if you are dedicated to your companion. For males you have to realize that their desire to find that female who is in heat can be unbearable. The stress that they are under in the presence of a female in heat is enormous. You have to be prepared to be very vigilant and be responsible for your decision. You need to be prepared to make arrangements if you are going to be truly responsible for your companions. It seems like a lot of preparation and management, but it can be done successfully!
Now the good news! For those of you who absolutely can’t assume the responsibility there is an alternative to spaying and neutering your companions! For females there is the tubal ligation and for males there is the vasectomy. A tubal ligation is the severing and tying off of the fallopian tubes in female dogs and a vasectomy is the severing and tying off of the vas deferens in males. These procedures will preserve your companions vital hormones while making it impossible to sire or whelp any unwanted litters.
The problem then becomes finding a Veterinarian who does them. As these are not common procedures, it may take a lot of research to find a Veterinarian who is trained to do them. Like the medical community, the Veterinary community seems to be really resistant to change. It’s like the issue of vaccinations and yearly vaccinations, most Vets just can’t seem to get past the way things were done in the past.
So, keeping your companion intact can be done without the risk of unwanted litters. You just have to be willing to take on the responsibility of having an intact companion animal. The choice is yours. I personally believe that it is in your companions best interest to be kept intact. After all, we do not castrate human males and do hysterectomies and mastectomies on human females in order to stave off diseases of the reproductive system or control our ever expanding population.