When to Spay Your Dog: SkeptVet and Dr. Andy Roark on the Cone of Shame Podcast

During my latest visit to the Cone of Shame Podcast with Dr. Andy Roark, we discuss when to spay your dog.

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6 Responses to When to Spay Your Dog: SkeptVet and Dr. Andy Roark on the Cone of Shame Podcast

  1. art malernee says:

    when to spay your dog to me is like the argument when to revaccinate your pup or kitten that you have just fully vaccinated. I cannot see doing either as a parachute argument. My dog just turned 16 and i have not spayed her. If the patient is healthy with no behavior problems do we want to advise unproven medical care if we are going to preach evidence based medicine without using the parachute argument card that we do not need a good randomized controlled trial for everything? I will pull that
    parachute card out if i am treating a medical or behavior problem in my patients but these female puppys are clinically normal bright eyed and bushy tailed. What are we going to measure here. Notice i told everyone my dog is 16. Age is what clients usually want to measure unless dealing with blood and sex twice a year is more important than life expectancy to them. So where is the good RCTs she will live longer if you spay her? There are some RCTs she will live longer if you do not spay her but i would not call them good. History both in humans and pets is littered with messed up medical care where clinically normal patients were treated with unproven medical care to try and prevent something. I draw the line with clinically normal patients unless i use the parachute card. Im not ready to pull out that card as a preventative for increased ohe life expectancy.

  2. skeptvet says:

    Unsurprisingly, I disagree. The risk of specific diseases, such as mammary neoplasia and pyometra, is clearly greater the longer a female is intact. There is also some evidence neutered animals live longer, though that is less solid. There is no reliable evidence at all that intact females are healthier or live longer overall, only some weak indications that delaying neutering might reduce the risk of some disorders in some breeds. Apart from your obsession with RCTs as the only form of useful evidence (which is a deep misunderstanding of EBVM), you are basing your decision on opinion rather than evidence as much or more as anyone else. That’s perfectly fine, of course, but not when you start implying that your position is somehow more consistent with EBVM than anyone else’s, which it clearly isn’t.

  3. art malernee says:

    the nurse study mentioned in the article below had to be randomized to answer the question we are batting around.

  4. art malernee says:

    but not when you start implying that your position is somehow more consistent with EBVM than anyone else’s, which it clearly isn’t.>>>>
    the wisdom of preventative care without a good RCT to support is a old argument in EBM that I’m sure will go on for a long time.

  5. Lisa says:

    I came to your site today to research this very issue and I happily found a recent podcast! My breeder (bernese mountain dog) is strongly recommending waiting until 3 months after her first heat (~12-14 months) and if one cannot wait, then at least until 9 months old. I had thought there wasn’t a lot of evidence for waiting for females, but if I am understanding your podcast you do think there is enough evidence for larger breeds to wait until 1 to 1.5 years, if possible. My vet has strongly recommended 6 months for spaying since the beginning citing the mammary cancer risk and the difficulty of doing the surgery after a heat cycle. I am disappointed in her, and she is a young vet so they must still be teaching this at the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada. What to do? I really do not relish dealing with a heat cycle, although I am told it is not as bad as it sounds. We also live in a rural area and have heard horror stories of intact male dogs coming to the property from all over (yes, a lot of farm dogs run loose here). This issue and the food issue = so much pressure on the owner and enough to drive one crazy!

  6. skeptvet says:

    The first thing to remember is that neutering is just one factor among many, so neither decision is going to condemn your dog t a terrible fate nor guarantee a long, healthy life. Some of the pressure comes from the misconception that one way is “right” and the other is a horrible mistake, and it’s way more complicated than that.

    In general, female dogs may have a slightly greater risk of mammary cancer after each heat cycle, but the exact difference from 0 to 1 isn’t known and is probably small. On the other hand, some large breeds may have slightly higher risk for certain cancers and orthopedic problems is neutered before they are fully grown, though again this is about population averages, not destiny for an individual dog. As for the surgery itself, it is a little more trouble in adult dogs, especially if we let them get overweight in the meantime, but the surgery is still safe to do. On balance, I think there is enough evidence to make a reasonable case for waiting until full growth in large-breed dogs, which usually means 1 heat, sometimes two in the giant breeds. But I also don’t think it is a terrible mistake if we neuter earlier to avoid the heat.
    If you want more details, here’s an article looking at some of the studies.

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