Let me preface this by saying that I am absolutely not opposed in the slightest to spaying and neutering to ensure that owners are held honest and responsible if getting their dog from a shelter. I am, however, wholly against propaganda being used by those who would prefer that everything with testicles or a uterus and ovaries be ‘sterilized’ for the implied betterment of pet ownership.
Unfortunately, keeping an intact dog has become a social faux pas in today’s society. It isn’t acceptable for Fido to go walking around with his testicles swingin’ in the breeze or Fifi to be wearing cute panties when it’s that time of the year because those are sure signs that those people are breeders and breeders are the Devil, don’tcha know? Sadly, I’ve experienced it first hand with comments like, “When are you going to neuter him? Those danglies are so gross!” in reference to my intact goober boy. It makes it hard biting my tongue with comments like that but it’s typically better off that I don’t spout off a nasty remark as a retort and focus my time into educating them why I choose to leave my dogs intact as a personal choice – even if I were to never consider breeding him (or any other intact dog that may live in my home in the future).
With the plethora of information available out there that shows the pros and cons of spaying and neutering, J.Q. Public is sadly lacking in the knowledge department. For many people, the need to actually have that dog go through the surgery is a convenience for their lives because, let’s face it, intact animals can be a pain in the fanny if you don’t have the time or effort to manage potential accidents. That being said, if you’re planning on spaying or neutering your animals you should at least be informed of the reasons both for and against the argument. I would highly suggest reading this article, but if you’d rather it not, here are a few pros and cons for you.
The pros of spaying and neutering include some of the following:
- Eliminating the risk of testicular cancer (which is <1% roughly).
- Reduces the rate of non-cancerous prostate issues and perianal fistulas.
- Nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra (which affects approximately 23% of intact female dogs and has a fatality rate of about 1%).
- Removes the very small risk of uterine, cervical and ovarian tumors in female dogs.
- Reduces the risk of mammary tumors in female dogs if spayed before 2.5 years of age.
The cons of spaying and neutering include some of the following:
- Neutering a dog prior to one year of age significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer). This commonly occurs in medium/large breed dogs and typically has a very poor outcome.
- Increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma occurrence by 1.6 times.
- Triples the risk of hypothyroidism.
- Quadruples the small risk of prostate cancer.
- Increases the risk of orthopedic disorders (like torn ACLs) and increases the risk of reactions to vaccinations.
- Can cause “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of female dogs.
- Increases the risk of vaginal dermatitis, recessed vulva, etc. in female dogs – especially when altered prior to puberty.
Those are just some of the reasons given both for and against the procedure. We must not discount the risks involved in surgery – no matter how advanced the procedure has become – when involving the life of an animal that we care about. The risk will always be there when it involves anesthetics and surgery.
With all of that being said, however, it still comes down to a personal decision for the owner of said dog(s) because it is their ultimate responsibility to keep those dogs safe, sound and happy for their lives. If an owner cannot or will not maintain their pet from wandering the streets looking for bitches in season to breed with, train and manage their pet as to limit any potential occurrences of same sex dog aggression or simply wants to ‘enjoy the miracle of life’ for their children or otherwise looking to make a quick buck off of puppies, I would highly suggest having this elective procedure performed for the benefit of your own personal sanity and the sanity of the rescues and shelters that have to take of the brunt of the ‘problem’ when you can’t find responsible, permanent homes for that dog’s offspring.