Deelee Lagotto Romagnolo 

De-sexing your dog


With some of the controversy surrounding early de-sexing of dogs  with some breeders, shelters and pounds.  I decided to investigate if there were any decent facts available about issues with the loss of hormones at such a young age (many pets were being de-sexed at 12 weeks of age).


​My readings left me quite convinced that early de-sexing was not a good idea, and in fact, it brought into question my own personal belief about de-sexing at six months of age.  Why do we do it at that particular age - and again, when I researched this, the answer was "seems like a fair enough age".


​I have to say my foundations were a little rocked by this.  While there was no good scientific rationale for de-sexing at six months of age, there was quite a good deal of information on the many bad things that can happen when you de-sex a dog before sexually mature.  For example there can be significant increases in hip and elbow dysplasia incidence, increase in cancer rates (lymphomas, osteosarcoma, haemangioma), and of course, the ever present urinary incontinence that plagues many older spayed female dogs.


​With this in mind, I think if is best to adjust the de-sexing ages to make sure a female dogs (most importantly in large breeds) had had their first season before de-sexing (ages from nine months to two years) and that make dogs were full mature (same ages relative to breed size)


​More recently I came across information relating to vascetomis- dogs, and doing tubal ligations in female dogs.  While these ideas did accomplish sterility and keeps the hormones intact, it did still leave the uterus prone to potential infection (pyometra) and the testes and prostate prone to enlargement prone to enlargement and cancer.


​But, one idea that did make sense was an ovary sparing spey.  In this procedure the uterus is removed in a total (hysterectomy), but the ovaries remain in place able to supply necessary hormones to the bitch during growth, development and maturity.  The procedure is relatively simple in a surgical sense, you just need to make sure you remove the entire uterus at the level of the cervix, and just below the ovary, so there is not tissue left to react to the ovarian heats every six months.


​The only main argument is that the bitch may still be prone to ovarian cancer (although this is extremely rare)  and also mammary cancer is another possible issue, but again most cases of mammary cancer occurs in bitches that have had a litter, so this would lessen this problem.  A mammary examination every years as part of an annual health check should cover off on this potential quite well.


​So for those of you concerned about what age to de-sex your bitch, with both developmental disorder and long-term incontinence in mink, think again and ask your vet about an ovary sparing surgery.

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