dog_scientistIf you have read through Billy’s health history or looked at Billy’s timeline, you know we went through many medical issues with him. However, we never had answers from Billy’s doctors as to why he was experiencing so many problematic health and behavioral conditions. Thus began our years-long intensive evaluation of over 200 peer-reviewed studies to come to an understanding as to what went wrong for Billy. We were looking for a corrective action plan to restore Billy’s health.

Reviewing the available information we discovered the following: the scientific community is learning every day how similar our bodies and organ systems are to those of our dogs.  Over the last decade, the relevance of veterinary comparative oncology to pharmaceutical and human medical oncology research has been recognized. The movement toward utilizing canine models in human medical research is primarily due to the aforementioned strengths of the canine model and the similarities between dogs and humans. In addition, the Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC) has formalized efforts to use companion dogs in human research by bringing together various institutions to work under the umbrella institution of the National Cancer Institute.84

Setting aside ethical judgment, dogs are typically utilized in cardiovascular studies, heart and lung research, genetic studies, age-related research, pulmonary studies, cancer research, and orthopedics (e.g., the development of prosthetic devices for hip and knee replacements, vertebral fusion models, cervical disc degeneration). Recently, MRI studies 85 have established that our dogs’ brains work much as ours do. We determined that even if there was no information on a topic with respect to dogs, we could look at the studies on humans as another resource.

Based upon our research with respect to Billy’s varied symptoms/disorders, we concluded we needed a panel test of Billy’s hormones. Finally, one specialist agreed to do a panel test of Billy’s hormones. With this new panel, we noticed that his estradiol (the most potent form of estrogen) was six times what it should have been, and he had absolutely NO testosterone. These were extremely bizarre results considering Billy was a male. Only then did the light go on in our heads – was all of this because Billy was neutered???

Once we associated Billy’s medical and behavioral issues with his being neutered, we began to search each of his conditions with the term “spay” or “neuter”. This opened the door to a whole world of research exposing the negative effects of spay/neuter we had no idea existed.  If your dog was either spayed or neutered, and has been afflicted with any of the following conditions, you should pay particular attention to what our evaluation of the peer-reviewed research revealed:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • TPLO surgery (to correct cranial cruciate ligament tear)
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
  • Hemangiosarcoma (a type of cancer usually in the heart or spleen)
  • Lymphosarcoma (cancer of lymphatic tissue or lymphocytes)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Urinary tract cancer
  • Mast cell tumor
  • Cushings
  • Atypical Cushings
  • Diabetes
  • Adverse reaction to vaccination
  • Allergies (atopic dermatitis)
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Obesity
  • Aggression
  • Excessive fear of people or other dogs
  • Noise associated fear
  • Separation anxiety
  • Touch sensitivity
  • Cognitive impairment

The foundation for our discussions on the positive and negative effects of spay/neuter is a 2007 systematic review  83 of more than 50 peer reviewed studies. These studies are found in the veterinary medical literature and investigate the long term physical risks and benefits associated with spay/neuter in dogs. The systematic review concludes:

“One thing is clear – much of the spay/neuter information that is available to the public is unbalanced and contains claims that are exaggerated or unsupported by evidence. Rather than helping to educate pet owners, much of it has contributed to common misunderstandings about the health risks and benefits associated of spay/neuter in dogs.”

One of the misunderstandings propagated by the veterinary community is the myth that spayed and neutered dogs enjoy a longer and healthier lifespan than their intact counterparts. We discuss this topic more thoroughly on our Lifespan page.