Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Have a Headache

Today I read a veterinary blog post where the author, a Jennifer Coates, criticizes the Golden Retriever study referenced here earlier this month. Her criticism centers on the claim that the study doesn't talk about the "benefits" of spay and neuter. She states that the study gave her a headache! Gosh darn those scientists, they only give the facts without any animal rights spin. How dare they!!

I'm betting if this study had different results the article author would be singing a different tune. There is a definite bias in the veterinary community toward indiscriminate neutering of pets, emphasizing what they perceive to be "benefits" while totally ignoring any risks....and failing to inform their clients about all the facts.

Let's address the stated "benefits" listed in this article, shall we?

"Getting rid of heat cycles"

This is a valid reason to choose spay for some owners. However, spay for convenience is totally unrelated to health. A common risk of spay is incontinence in up to 30% of cases, due to the effect of the estrogen deficit on the genitourinary system. The decision for spay should be left up to the individual owner to decide. There is also a recent study done on Rottweilers that shows that bitches left intact or spayed after middle age lived about 30% longer, on average, than their spayed counterparts.

"Preventing unwanted litters"

We can also use the tools we have at hand, such as fences, doors and leashes. Very effective. Owners should confine their dogs. If they don't, then the dog has bigger problems than an unwanted litter. Like being hit by a car, or killed by a coyote.


"Eliminating the dangers associated with whelping"

There are dangers to everything in life, including the danger of choking to death on kibble. Quite frankly, without whelping, we'd soon run out of dogs. A good vet can greatly reduce the risks associated with whelping...if you can find one. A red herring argument if I've ever heard one.

"Preventing potentially fatal uterine infections (pyometra)"

A large percentage of spay surgeries are associated with complications such as potentially fatal infection or bleeding. Again, it boils down to a matter of risk vs. benefit. Pyometra can be effectively treated if and when it occurs. Pyometra is a risk that varies by breed: some breeds are predisposed to pyometra and the owner can certainly weight the risk of pyometra against the other risks involved with spaying prophylactically if they are fully informed. The risk of developing pyometra is greatest in an intact bitch who has never whelped a litter.

"Eliminating the chance of ovarian or testicular cancer"

Testicular cancer is rare in dogs and seldom a cause of death. When it occurs, surgical removal of the affected testicle is generally curative. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, ovarian cancer is almost unheard of in canines.

"Significantly reducing the risk of prostatic hyperplasia and infection."

Yes, neutering is an effective treatment for refractory prostatitis and anal gland infections. However, neutering also dramatically increases the risk of prostate cancer and bladder cancer...conditions that can be fatal. Again, the choice for neutering should remain with the owner who should be informed of risks in addition to potential benefits. If a dog develops a refractory genitourinary infection, he can certainly be neutered at that time, there is no rush to go in and neuter with the idea of preventing an infection.

"Lessening aggression and other unwanted behaviors like mounting, roaming and marking"

Studies to date show that neuter may reduce dog-to-dog aggression; however, it will tend to actually INCREASE dog-to-human aggression. Neutering often results in increased fearfulness. Other unwanted behaviors are not reliably reduced by neutering. Effective training is always the preferred method to handle behavior problems. Neutering should be a last resort if the goal is behavior modification.

Also, this author claims that other countries spay and neuter less because they have more restrictive ownership and breeding laws. Where is the evidence for this totally unsubstantiated and untrue assertion? Only here in the US do we require government permits to breed a litter. Only here in the US is neutering SADLY required by law in some places. Some European countries have restrictions for those who choose to breed within the confines of a kennel club, but by no means are people required to belong to a kennel club or follow their rules in order to breed their any country, except perhaps in certain areas here in the US.

In fact, in some countries, like Norway, it is legally forbidden to neuter your pet without proof of medical necessity.

This whiney blog post on PetMD is just more of the same propaganda from the animal rightist section of the veterinary community.

A headache that I have been dealing with for many years now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Think Twice

Avoid Spay/Neuter. His life may depend on it.
According to a piece of email propaganda that I received today from the HSUS, Californians took ample advantage of a feature on the state income tax form to donate to spay/neuter programs in our state. And donate they did, to the tune of approximately $250,000.

Spay/neuter tax fund. Spay/neuter laws. spay/neuter license plates. Spay/neuter advertising. Spay-neuter promotion in veterinary schools.
We are subjected to so much brainwashing, it's no wonder we mutilate our animals unnecessarily more and more every year.

Like dutiful little citizens, we comply in droves with societal pressures to neuter our pets. 4 out of 5 dogs....sterilized. 19 out of 20 cats....sterilized.

Veterinarians surely should rejoice at this trend, as it assures them abundant work. It's the ultimate "job security".

More and more dogs with incontinence, bladder stones, hypothyroidism, hip and knee joint problems, and life-robbing cancers of various types including bone cancer, hemangiosarcoma, prostate cancer and bladder cancer.

More dogs sickened with weak immune systems, unable to tolerate simple vaccinations or recover from infectious diseases. More fearfulness, more anxiety and more dog-human aggression.

Naw, let's ignore all these scientifically proven facts and believe the politically correct mantra. SPAY NEUTER. BE RESPONSIBLE. Just ask the paradoxically-named "animal rights" groups like HSUS, PETA and Best Friends.

Spay/Neuter. It's dandy. It's the responsible thing to do. After all, if we told you the truth, you'd never voluntarily choose such a course of action.

So, the lies trip off our tongues so often that you believe them. After all, everyone says spay/neuter is beneficial, so it must be.

Ignore those pesky studies that show how much longer intact animals live. That show how much healthier they are.

Now I expect to hear from the normal pack of animal-rightist people who will recount how their neutered pet lived a long and healthy life. Who believe that everyone's pets should ALL be sterilized.

Rational people will draw the obvious conclusion; that pets will go extinct and/or suffer immensely from dangerously narrowed gene pools produced as a result of mass sterilization. But, your veganized, vitamin-deprived pea-brain just doesn't "get it" because you are incapable of independent thought and reason. 

Besides, your individual, anecdotal experience in meaningless. The STUDIES that compare vast groups of animals in a scientific manner are what provide us with useful information.

Those studies show that dogs are healthier and live longer when they remain intact. They have all their organs for very specific reasons, and those reasons extend beyond simple reproduction.

In my humble opinion, it is criminal to do something to your dog that will likely result in painful problems like arthritis and cancer. Don't our companions deserve to live their optimal lifespans, without our inflicting pain and early death upon them? After all, companions, we want them around us as long as possible.

Look it up. Study. Read. Make your own decisions.

Don't let AR nuts with their misanthropist, nihilist world views dictate our policies and our societal norms.

If you love animals, think twice.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Study: Neutering Affects Dog Health

"The study revealed that, for all five diseases analyzed, the disease rates were
significantly higher in both males and females that were neutered either early
or late compared with intact (non-neutered) dogs."

University of California, Davis

February 13, 2013


Neutering, and the age at which a dog is neutered, may affect the animal's risk

for developing certain cancers and joint diseases, according to a new study of

golden retrievers by a team of researchers at the University of California,


The study, which examined the health records of 759 golden retrievers, found a

surprising doubling of hip dysplasia among male dogs neutered before one year of

age. This and other results will be published today (Feb. 13) in the online

scientific journal PLOS ONE at

"The study results indicate that dog owners and service-dog trainers should

carefully consider when to have their male or female dogs neutered," said lead

investigator Benjamin Hart, a distinguished professor emeritus in the UC Davis

School of Veterinary Medicine.

"It is important to remember, however, that because different dog breeds have

different vulnerabilities to various diseases, the effects of early and late

neutering also may vary from breed to breed," he said.

While results of the new study are revealing, Hart said the relationship between

neutering and disease-risk remains a complex issue. For example, the increased

incidence of joint diseases among early-neutered dogs is likely a combination of

the effect of neutering on the young dog's growth plates as well as the increase

in weight on the joints that is commonly seen in neutered dogs.

Dog owners in the United States are overwhelmingly choosing to neuter their

dogs, in large part to prevent pet overpopulation or avoid unwanted behaviors.

In the U.S., surgical neutering -- known as spaying in females -- is usually

done when the dog is less than one year old.

In Europe, however, neutering is generally avoided by owners and trainers and

not promoted by animal health authorities, Hart said.

During the past decade, some studies have indicated that neutering can have

several adverse health effects for certain dog breeds. Those studies examined

individual diseases using data drawn from one breed or pooled from several


Against that backdrop, Hart and colleagues launched their study, using a single

hospital database. The study was designed to examine the effects of neutering on

the risks of several diseases in the same breed, distinguishing between males

and females and between early or late neutering and non-neutering.

The researchers chose to focus on the golden retriever because it is one of the

most popular breeds in the U.S. and Europe and is vulnerable to various cancers

and joint disorders. The breed also is favored for work as a service dog.

The research team reviewed the records of female and male golden retrievers,

ranging in age from 1 to 8 years, that had been examined at UC Davis' William R.

Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for two joint disorders and three

cancers: hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear, lymphosarcoma,

hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumor. The dogs were classified as intact (not

neutered), neutered early (before 12 months age), or neutered late (at or after

12 months age).

Joint disorders and cancers are of particular interest because neutering removes

the male dog's testes and the female's ovaries, interrupting production of

certain hormones that play key roles in important body processes such as closure

of bone growth plates, and regulation of the estrous cycle in female dogs.

The study revealed that, for all five diseases analyzed, the disease rates were

significantly higher in both males and females that were neutered either early

or late compared with intact (non-neutered) dogs.

Specifically, early neutering was associated with an increase in the occurrence

of hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and lymphosarcoma in males and

of cranial cruciate ligament tear in females. Late neutering was associated with

the subsequent occurrence of mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma in females.

In most areas, the findings of this study were consistent with earlier studies,

suggesting similar increases in disease risks. The new study, however, was the

first to specifically report an increased risk of late neutering for mast cell

tumors and hemangiosarcoma.

Furthermore, the new study showed a surprising 100 percent increase, or

doubling, of the incidence of hip dysplasia among early-neutered males. Earlier

studies had reported a 17 percent increase among all neutered dogs compared to

all non-neutered dogs, indicating the importance of the new study in making

gender and age-of-neutering comparisons.

Other researchers on this UC Davis study were: Gretel Torres de la Riva, Thomas

Farver and Lynette Hart, School of Veterinary Medicine; Anita Oberbauer,

Department of Animal Science; Locksley Messam, Department of Public Health

Sciences; and Neil Willits, Department of Statistics.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public

service that matter to California and transform the world.

Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, more

than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of

nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research

centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than

100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental

Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also

houses six professional schools -- Education, Law, Management, Medicine,

Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Media contact(s):

* Benjamin Hart, School of Veterinary Medicine, (530) 752-1555,

* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

View this story on the Web at

Trina Wood, Communications Officer

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Office: 530-752-5257

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine -- Leading veterinary medicine,

addressing societal needs

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dogs and Wolves

Test time here!

"True" or "false": 

Dogs are not wolves.

If you said "True"....oops, you flunked. While there are minor differences, dogs and wolves actually belong to the same genus and species.

But you certainly would not be alone in this belief. Plenty of conventional authors and canine "nutritionists" are calling attention to an article published in "Nature" magazine Jan 23, 2013. This article claims that dogs have only recently developed the ability to digest carbohydrates. We now see many canine nutrition websites blaring the headline: "DOGS ARE NOT WOLVES"! The purpose of such sensational and misleading headlines seems to be to justify the pet food industry's continued abuse of dogs' digestive systems by intentionally feeding them a carbohydrate-based diet like kibbled dog food.

What this study does not highlight, however, is the fact that, genetically, dogs ARE wolves. Based on genetic research done by evolutionary and molecular biologist Dr. Robert Wayne at UCLA, in 1993, dogs were re-classified from Canis familiaris" to "Canis lupus" ssp "familiaris"

In other words, dogs are the same genus and species as the gray wolf. They are merely a subspecies of the grey wolf and do not differ significantly from the grey wolf. All breeds of dogs are still just variations on the grey wolf.

Let's repeat that again, for emphasis. In all significant ways, there is no meaningful difference between the grey wolf and the dog. The gray wolf and the dog share 99.8% of the same mitochondrial DNA. For comparison, the gray wolf and the coyote only share 96% of the same mitochondrial DNA. Dogs are directly descended from the gray wolf, sharing their anatomy and physiology.

The basic definition of a species is the ability to breed and produce fertile offspring, and dogs bred to wolves produce fertile offspring.

Simply because selective breeding in dogs has produced various types and colors, sizes and shapes does not mean that dogs are a separate species from wolves. It's been long established that dogs and the gray wolf have the same genes, and the same basic anatomy and physiology. Based on appearance alone, dog breeds are more dissimilar from each other than these breeds are from their prototype ancestor, the grey wolf. Are Chihuahuas a different type of animal than a Scottish Deerhound? Nope. Any difference wrought by human selective breeding could be wiped out in just a generation or two of breeding back to the grey wolf.

However, let's examine the digestive tract, which seems to be the "proof" that is spurring this recent claim that because dogs can digest carbohydrates, they are therefore separate and distinct from wolves. Dogs and wolves both have jaws that move only up and down, not side to side, with teeth that mesh in a scissors-type fashion. Their sharp pointed teeth are meant for shearing, not grinding. They are carnivores. Omnivores and herbivores have flat molars and jaws that can move in a side-to-side fashion designed for grinding grains, fruits and vegetables. Neither dogs nor wolves have saliva that produce amylase (the enzyme that begins digestion of starch in the mouth). Dogs and wolves both have short intestinal tracts, designed for quick digestion of proteins and fats. Vegetable matter takes many hours to digest and process in an animal's gut. Unless carbohydrates in the diet are highly processed and refined, they are not able to be digested and absorbed by dogs.

And we all know how much valuable nutrition is left in processed, refined foods, right? Think white flour or white rice. Nothing left there but "empty calories"....or so dieticians have informed us for years. Virtually no vitamins or minerals remain after processing. But now, we are supposed to believe that empty calories are beneficial for our canine pals.

The dog's liver produces all the vitamin C he ever needs. No need to derive that from fruits. There is, however, a significant need for specific amino acids in large quantities in the diet, particularly during growth and development. Proteins that are complete, in significant amounts, are necessary to keep a dog healthy. Rather than try to keep complete proteins at the essential bare minimum, dogs should be fed more in line with their natural diet which is protein-rich. No need to feed your dog on the "minimum wages of nutrition" that are so stingily provided in commercial foods.

It is well-documented in multiple studies that unless a dog has kidney or liver disease, protein in the diet does not pose any sort of health risk whatsoever. Even elderly dogs with compromised kidney function related to old age do better with higher protein than was currently believed to be "safe".

The fact that dogs (and wolves) can ingest some carbohydrate-based foods is not a secret, nor is it any new development. Check any scientific wolf website and you will find that wolves do eat fruits, vegetables and berries in small amounts. However, at issue is the huge percentage of carbohydrates that we feed the domestic dog in the way of commercial dog food. (Usually well over 50% carbs). No wolf or indeed any canid can remain healthy on a diet that is primarily grain-based carbohydrates.

In fact, recent studies on HUMAN diet demonstrates that high amounts of carbohydrates are unhealthy for us, too. Since mankind began to farm, and agriculture "improved" our lives to provide us a diet based on grains, the human brain has become significantly smaller. Vegetarian humans also have smaller brains than their omnivorous counterparts. Hmmm. Why even herbivores like cows are said to thrive more healthily on diets where they graze on natural grasses and vegetation instead of being fed strictly grains in a feed lot.

Evolution over 10,000 years of domestication has failed to produce any significant mutations that separate dogs from wolves to the extent that they have evolved into a different species.

For some reason, folks out there....veterinarians, dog food companies, canine "advisors"...are just itching to turn back the clock of genetic science and molecular biology and convince us that dogs and wolves are DIFFERENT. After all, you can tell just by looking at's obvious, right?

Wrong again. Looks only show us the characteristics that man has intentionally bred for. All those characteristics had their potential in the genetic makeup of the wolf. THAT is what should be obvious to anyone with a background in science.

It's convenient for some to attempt to justify the recommendation for feeding a cheap diet based on grains, and to try to support the status quo of using inferior foodstuffs from the dregs of the human food chain, but it also is disingenuous to our claim of caring enough about our dogs to want to provide them with optimal nutrition.