Today's Veterinary Practice

MAY-JUN 2018

Today's Veterinary Practice provides comprehensive information to keep every small animal practitioner up to date on companion animal medicine and surgery as well as practice building and management.

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39 MAY/JUNE 2018 ‚óŹ TVPJOURNAL.COM FEATURES Understanding Data on Hormones, Behavior and Neoplasia THE NEUTERING CONTROVERSY Vanna M. Dickerson, DVM, MS Janet A. Grimes, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA Mandy L. Wallace, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine The decision to spay and neuter companion animals has been a subject of much debate for decades. From a population control standpoint, the answer seems simple. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that roughly 7.6 million animals enter shelters in the United States each year, a large proportion of which are euthanized. 1 Given this staggering number, decreasing the number of births through spaying and neutering seems like a straightforward decision; however, it is not that simple. New research has brought to light potential downsides to spaying and neutering that should be considered. How does one answer the questions raised by a responsible pet owner regarding their individual animal? This article discusses literature exploring potential links between gonadectomy and various neoplastic and nonneoplastic disorders in dogs. NEOPLASIA Many studies have explored the potential relationship between gonadectomy and various forms of neoplasia. Most available literature is retrospective in nature; therefore, proof of direct causation is lacking. Bias secondary to unknown environmental factors, veterinary care, and diet, among other factors, is difficult to address retrospectively. Gonadectomy has been associated with an increase in lifespan, which may be a source of bias as many forms of neoplasia are more common in dogs of advanced age. 2 Reasons for choosing to spay or neuter an animal are also multifactorial. For instance, owners of purebred dogs may be more likely to choose gonadectomy in a pet with a known familial history of disease. Incidence for a particular neoplasia following gonadectomy may also be breed specific. JUDGMENT CALL The decision to spay or neuter a pet should be an individual one with a thorough discussion between the owner and the veterinarian about what risks are present and how they may affect the particular patient. Male Labrador retrievers castrated before 6 months of age had a significantly higher incidence of cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture and elbow dysplasia than intact males. Alison Landis Stone Photography

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