According to a new study published by researchers at the University of California, Davis, big mix-breed dogs become more prone to health risks if neutered or spayed early.
The study leverages 15 years of data from thousands of dogs at UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. After examining common joint disorders such as elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, and cranial cruciate ligament tears in five weight categories, they concluded the following:
- Mixed-breed dogs with more than 44 pounds as adults become more susceptible to one or more joint disorders if neutered before they are one-year-old.
- Dogs with 43 pounds or less don’t exhibit susceptibility to joint problems if neutered early.
According to the study, female dogs weighing over 43 pounds that did not undergo spaying before a year of age, only had a 4 percent risk of developing joint disorders. On the other hand, dogs that were spayed before a year old had a 10-12 percent chance of developing a joint complication.
The researchers also tried to find a correlation between mixed breed dogs in different weight categories developing cancer and being neutered or spayed early but couldn’t find any. When interviewed, the lead author of the study, Benjamin Hart, said that one of the aims of the study is to trigger the re-evaluation of the spay or neuter process so that people looking to adopt a puppy have more time to decide when to proceed with the process.
The standard practice in the USA and other countries in Europe is that pups are neutered or spayed by the time they are 6 months old.
The thoughts were echoed by Lynette Hart, the study’s co-author who also emphasized the implications of initiating the process early.
“They (people and organizations raising service dogs) need to take a serious look at this. Joint disorders can shorten a dog’s useful working life and impact its role as a family member,” She noted.
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