Friday, April 22, 2011

Dalmatians, Boxers, and Labs...oh my!

More risks coming to light regarding spay and neuter. Oh my! Read on.

Influence of castration on Dalmatian stone-forming:

Dalmatians are prone to urinary stone formation. Stones lodged in the urethra can obstruct urine and result in pain, and even death.

The size of the os penis in the male Dalmatian is under the influence of testosterone in the body. If castrated before maturity, the male Dalmatian stands a greater chance of an abnormally developed os penis due to lack of testosterone. This then results in greater risk for urinary tract obstruction from the stones that all Dalmatians are predisposed to form. 

The Dalmatian Club of America recommends delaying neutering of Dalmatians until AFTER the age of 50 weeks (that's nearly one year old).

More details here:
But it's not just Dalmatians who are at risk for health problems related to sterilization.
Spayed females are predisposed to Mast Cell Tumors. Here's the study, just recently published.

J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2011 Apr 15.

Cutaneous MCTs: Associations with Spay/Neuter Status, Breed, Body Size,

and Phylogenetic Cluster.

White CR, Hohenhaus AE, Kelsey J, Procter-Gray E.

Source: Department of Internal Medicine, Animal Medical Center, New York, NY.


Certain breeds are known to be overrepresented among mast cell tumor (MCT)
patients, but other risk factors have not been evaluated. This study
presents results from a case-control study of 252 dogs with grade 2 or
grade 3 cutaneous MCT.
Increased risk for MCT development was found in spayed females (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 4.11),
boxers (adjusted OR, 6.09), Labrador retrievers (adjusted OR, 3.95), pugs (adjusted OR, 3.17), golden retrievers (adjusted OR, 2.12), the mastiff and terrier phylogenetic cluster (adjusted OR, 3.19), and breeds classified as large
(adjusted OR, 2.10) or giant (adjusted OR, 5.44). Additional studies are
needed to evaluate the role of these and other potential risk factors in
MCT development.

Dogs with stage 3 mast cell tumors have a 90% death rate. 

More and more information is being revealed every day that gives those who love their animals justifiable concern about spay and neuter!


  1. If you decide not to spay PLEASE make sure that you have funds available to cover the cost of veterinary treatment for the 24% of intact bitches who will develop pyometra before the age of 10.

  2. Hi Cambstreasurer,

    Any pet can suffer from a variety of illnesses and accidents that necessitate veterinary treatment, so that rather goes without saying for pet ownership in general.

    Pyometra is easily treated when it occurs by spay at that time. Some milder cases do not require any surgery.

    You are referring to a Swedish study done in the '90s on insured, mostly purebred dogs. Uninsured dogs were not included. Not all breeds were included. Only thirty breeds of dogs commonly owned in Sweden were studied. Data was examined for only those breeds with more than 800 individuals present in the database. The vast majority of breeds were not included in this study. Among the breeds included, the risk for pyometra was greater in rough Collies, Rottweilers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and English Cocker Spaniels. In some of these breeds, over 50% were affected with pyometra, while in other breeds studied with some affected bitches, the rate was as low as 10%. Breeds with a low rate of pyometra in this study were Drevers, German Shepherd Dogs, Miniature Dachshunds, Dachshunds (normal size), and Swedish Hounds.

    In this study, the crude 12-month risk of pyometra for females <10 years of age was 2.0% in 1995 and 1.9% in 1996.

    Breast cancer is an even greater risk in unspayed bitches, and that condition also varies by breed. The breeds most often predisposed to breast cancer are Boxer, Brittany, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, German Shepherd Dog, Maltese, Miniature Poodle, Pointer, Toy Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier.

    There is no "one size fits all" answer to whether or not to spay your bitch. The owner must assess the risks and benefits for their particular indifidual bitch.

    It is misleading and inaccurate to state that all bitches have a 24% risk of developing pyomtetra. Relatively few breeds were included in the Swedish study and the risk is known to vary greatly by breed, indicating that genetics plays a greater role in the risk involved than whether or not the uterus and ovaries are indiscriminately carved out.

  3. And yet, month after month I have to deal with weeping owners who could have afforded our subsidised rate for spaying but have no possible way to pay the cost of emergency pyo surgery at a private vet.

    Mammary tumours are a bit different in that surgery isn't an emergency so that there will be time to get the bitch an operation slot via our clinic so that it's done at cost rather than the private vet's out of hours rate and the owner has some time to try to borrow from friends or family.

  4. Seems rather backwards to advise to spay all bitches becase a few might develop pyometra or breast cancer eventually. There are other serious problems that can result from spaying. Check our blog entry "Rethinking Spay and Neuter" from December 8, 2010. Here is some information copied from that post:

    Spay surgery itself carries a somewhat high rate (around 20%) of complications such as infection, hemorrhage and even death. Spaying significantly increases the rate of urinary incontinence in bitches….about 20-30% of all spayed bitches will eventually develop this problem. This is believed to be most likely caused by the lack of estrogen that results from being spayed.

    Other studies prove significant health risks associated with sterilization, particularly when done at an early age. The most problematic is a delayed closure of the bony growth plates. This results in an abnormal, “weedy” skeletal development that increases the incidence of orthopedic problems like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. Working and performance dogs, if neutered before maturity, risk the inability to perform the jobs they were bred for.

    But by far the most startling news to surface this year is the result of a study that shows that keeping ovaries to the age of six years or later is associated with a greater than 30% increase of lifespan in female Rottweilers. Similar studies in humans reinforce this finding.

    A 30% longer lifespan means that you could have many additional years with your bitch simple by delaying spay surgery until middle-age or later.

    Behavioral studies show that sterilization increases fearfulness, noise phobias and aggression. Other well-documented adverse health effects of de-sexing include increased risk of bone cancer, hemangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism, and cognitive dysfunction in older pets. Sterilization confers an increased susceptibility to infectious disease, and also a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines.

    A spayed bitch who contracts vaginal herpes is refractory to treatment. (There's another post here on that subject as well) This is a problem sometimes occurring in shelters where higher than normal risk of infection, coupled with pediatric spay policy, predisposes the puppy bitch to this very painful problem :(

    Sadly, the high costs of veterinary care today make routine care and treatment impossible for many people of modest means. Usually we receive health care for ourselves free or nearly so but that is not the case for our animals! I have to pay over $200 here just to have a routine dental cleaning done...and now the vets are trying to pass a law in our state prohibiting anesthesia-free dental care by laypersons. Sounds like a way to monopolize the animal care market to drive prices even higher.

    My point about the mammary tumors is not the cost of the surgery, but the fact that early spay dramatically reduces the risk of mammary tumors in later life.

    On the plus side, spaying will serve to prevent any unwanted litters; will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer, pyometra, perianal fistula and cancers of the reproductive organs.

    Owners need to consider the risks and benefits of spay surgery. There is no "one size fits all" answer.

  5. Hello Cambstreasurer;

    Your figures certainly don't hold true for Cocker Spaniels, which I've owned for 55 years and bred for conformation and obedience competition for these past 35 years.

    Who might you be "shilling" for? Hmmmmm??!!

  6. Cambtreasurer

    If you are seeing pyro on a monthly basis, your clientele clearly needs education from you on ways to prevent infection when they whelp and raise newborn litters. If your only focus is on spay/neuter and is non supportive of low income owners who have bred their dogs purposely or accidentally, your cavalier attitude or reproach is not in the best interest of your clients or their dogs.

    Every vet clinic worth its salt knows that the key to responsible animal care is education. Start working with your client's pets with where they are in terms of health and help them care for their dogs rather than simply stand back blaming them because you did not properly educate them on true animal husbandry--or is that something you know anything about at all?

    By the way, it appears that you imbedded code so that any links to this article show your comment as a summary! You have been reported for hacking to Starbreeze.

  7. Hi Anonymous, it seems that when "sharing" these articles on FB that the first comment posted is what shows as a summary. I don't know why, but that is what generally happens when I use the "share" function. Oh well.

  8. Hi Mark Johnson,

    If you click on the ID for "Cambstreasurer", this appears to be the treasurer for the Cambridge RSPCA. I was not aware that the RSPCA was actively promoting pet sterilization. I thought that in Europe, people were not so indoctrinated to mass sterilization as they are here in the US. In Norway, one may not sterilize a pet without medical necessity.

    Happy Easter, everyone!

  9. From my understanding, the RSPCA is just the HSUS/PeTA with a British accent.

  10. My family has had boxers for over 45 years and so far we have not had a case of pyometra in our bitches.