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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Orthopedic Disorders An increased risk of hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture has been demonstrated in castrated male dogs. 34 The same study reported spayed females have an increased risk of CCL rupture, but no increased risk of hip dysplasia compared to intact females. Castrated male golden retrievers had nearly double the risk of hip dysplasia in one study, in addition to an increased risk of CCL rupture. 11 Male Labrador retrievers castrated before 6 months of age had a significantly higher incidence of CCL rupture and elbow dysplasia than intact males. 17 This same study found an increased risk of hip dysplasia in spayed female Labrador retrievers compared to intact females, but no difference in incidence of elbow dysplasia or CCL rupture. Gonadectomy before closure of physes is associated with lengthening of bones, which may contribute to an increased incidence of orthopedic disease. Since gonadectomy has also been associated with obesity, this could be a confounding factor contributing to the apparent association between sex hormones and orthopedic disease. 35 Additionally, case numbers in these studies were low. CONCLUSION Unfortunately, there is no clear answer when deciding whether one should spay or neuter an individual dog. While there is minimal to no strong evidence clearly linking gonadectomy to various diseases, owners of at-risk breeds should consider all factors. Given the potential for an increased lifespan, many owners may wish to accept the potential for cancers often associated with geriatric age to avoid nuisance behaviors associated with an intact animal and diseases such as pyometra or BPH. Evidence for a link between gonadectomy and increased risk of the neoplastic, behavioral, immunologic, or orthopedic diseases mentioned in this article is weak and needs to be further explored with appropriately designed research studies. These risks may also be breed specific. 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.

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