Posted on 06/15/2009


BAD VETERINARY MEDICINE >> Spay & Neuter Medical Facts


The American Veterinarian Medical Assoc. (AMVA) Policy states mandatory spay and neuter is a “bad idea” in direct contradiction to HSUS goals.  Vets speak out on known urinary, cruciate ligament, bone deformities, obesity, cancer, thyroid, and behavior problems associated with early surgical castration.


The American Veterinary Medical Assoc. official policy says “Mandatory spay/neuter is a bad idea.” The AVMA has taken this stance in direct contradiction to the Humane Society (HSUS) stated goals.

Barbara (BJ) Andrews © TheDogPlace May 2009 – AVMA policy is particularly brave because the AVMA is under assault by the newest of the Humane Society’s creations, the HSVA. The AVMA boasts over 70,000 members. No one knows how many members the Humane Society Veterinary Assoc. actually has but with millions of non-taxable HSUS dollars behind it, the Humane Society Vets will probably prevail.

MANDATORY SPAY/NEUTER IS A BAD IDEA - per AVMAEven so, the AVMA deals HSUS a blow in its straightforward policy statement “potential health problems associated with spaying and neutering have also been identified, including an increased risk of prostatic cancer in males; increased risks of bone cancer and hip dysplasia in large-breed dogs associated with sterilization before maturity; and increased incidences of obesity, diabetes, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and hypothyroidism.” Ref: AVMA.org

Whether/when to spay or neuter has been studied by various veterinary groups. Linda Witouski, TheDogPress Legislative Editor, compiled this 2008 summary report:

In a study of well over a million dogs, information on breed, sex, and age was collected and reported to the Veterinary Medical Database between 1964 and 2003. Results—Castrated male dogs were significantly more likely than other dogs to have hip dysplasia (CHD) than other dogs and spayed females were significantly more likely to have cranial cruciate ligament deficiency (CCLD).

Dogs up to 4 years old were significantly more likely to have HD whereas dogs over 4 years old were significantly more likely to have CCLD. In general, large- and giant-breed dogs were more likely than other dogs to have HD, CCLD, or both.

Prevalence of HD and CCLD increased significantly over the 4 decades for which data were examined. There was no data reflecting the decade-by-decade increase but one might suspect that the significantly increased rate of spay and castration procedures may be a factor in the overall forty-year increase. ref: June 15, 2008 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

There is unquestioned benefit to spay and castration but it may be a human benefit rather than of any tangible benefit to the canine.

There are other adverse effects of surgical neutering, particularly when the surgery is performed on puppies, obliquely referred to as “early-age” spay/neuter, pediatric spay/neuter, or juvenile spay/neuter, presumably depending on age at which ovariohysterectomy or orchietomy is performed on the puppy. A study published in the Journal of Am. Veterinary Medicine, noted an “increased rate of cystitis and decreasing age at gonadectomy was associated with increased rate of urinary incontinence. Among male and female dogs with early-age gonadectomy, hip dysplasia, noise phobias, and sexual behaviors were increased, whereas obesity, separation anxiety, escaping behaviors, inappropriate elimination when frightened…

These are not insignificant problems. Urinary incontinence and uncontrolled elimination will banish a dog to the outdoors and more often than not, to the “shelter.” Hip dysplasia, worsened by obesity, will bring valued family dogs in to the veterinary office where costly hip surgery may be performed. Other dogs, owned by families of lesser means or smaller hearts, will be dumped at the pound. The same can be said of dogs with noise phobias, separation anxieties, and embarrassing sexual behaviors. Dogs that habitually escape will inevitably be run over or taken to the local shelter.

While all agree that surgical castration and hysterectomy are the only viable options for sterilization, Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP explains risks for the canine athlete, covering the subject in an easy to read format.

In summary, our Health Editors and knowledgeable breeders agree; pets should be spayed or neutered but not until growth plates have closed and then only if their behavior becomes an annoyance to the family. Note that age of puberty varies depending on breed growth rate.

HOBSON NOTE: “behavior that becomes an annoyance to the family” equals an untrained dog. In my considered opinion, there is NOTHING that fits this statement that can not be corrected through training. It must also be noted that in approximately fifteen percent of female dogs with aggression problems, spaying results in an increase in aggression.

Thanks to the Animal Rights activists and the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), none of which rescue, adopt, or shelter unwanted dogs, it is almost impossible to adopt a shelter pet that isn’t already spayed or castrated. Like the surgery itself, that situation has benefits and drawbacks for adoptive owners. The spay/neuter policy has virtually no benefit to the cat or dog other than to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy as a result of straying can be prevented by keeping the animal inside the home or a secure fence. By the way, an electric fence does not prevent other dogs from getting to your dog!

Whether and When to have surgical sterilization performed should be up to the owner, not the government or local bureaucrats. Who knows more about your dog’s health than your veterinarian? Even though promoting early spay and neuter profits vets in the long run; honest, knowledgeable vets who learn from clinical experience and vet school instead of animal “rights” activists will veto early spay/neuter.

So talk to your vet. Then contact a responsible breeder who is as knowledgeable as your good vet. Breeders have been a little bit brainwashed but if you convince them that you want only to delay premature, risky removal of sex hormone organs, they will listen. Your choice is a mongrel with unpredictable size and personality that may or may not fit your family and will be subjected to a surgery with serious risk of side effects, or a purebred puppy or spayed adult from a knowledgeable breeder.

Barbara (BJ) Andrews


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