We all want what is best for our pets’ overall health.
Like many of you, I have spent countless hours researching the long-term effects of spay/neuter. The amount of contradicting information can be overwhelming; even veterinaries have varying degrees of recommendations.
Many of us have heard that you should spay / neuter as soon as possible, even younger than 6 months of age, in order to help reduce the unwanted pet population. While I agree there is a growing population of unwanted pets, there is also valid arguments for waiting to spay / neuter.
The below site is very informative and you will find links to published, peer reviewed studies as it pertains to spaying or neutering your pet.
Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, discusses spaying & neutering.
This is what a young puppies joints look like.
The removal of hormones at a young age can have significant and irreversible effects on your dog.
These Labradors are from the same litter. The lab on the left was pediatric neutered, lab on the right remains intact. The development between the two is indisputable.
There are over 700 growth plates in puppies that need to develop, mature, and close in order for your puppy to have a strong body that will support him/her throughout their life.
The growth plate is the area of growing tissue near the ends of the bones in puppies. Each bone has at least two growth plates: one at each end. The growth plate determines the future length and shape of the mature bone. When growth is complete, around 18-24 months in Labrador Retrievers, the growth plates close and are replaced by solid bone.
Because the growth plates are the weakest areas of the growing skeleton—even weaker than the nearby ligaments and tendons that connect bones to other bones and muscles—they are vulnerable to injury.
Some common things that can affect growth plate development include:
· Excessive weight / Poor nutrition.
· Early spay / neuter (Before 18-24 months of age in Labradors).
· Strenuous activity or prolonged exercise; before 24 months. The rule of thumb is 5 minutes of activity per month of age.
· Walking on hard or slick surfaces before growth plates are closed.
· Climbing stairs or jumping in and out of vehicles until growth plates are closed.
· Repetitive movements; keep training sessions short, and don’t allow your puppy to spin in tight circles.
· No weight bearing until growth plates have closed.
Until the growth plates are fully closed, they’re soft and susceptible to injury. However, after sexual maturity, the growth plates calcify and the rapid cell division ends. Now the growth plates have become a stable, inactive part of the bone, known as the epiphyseal line.
The only way to determine for certain if growth plates have closed is through x-ray by an orthopedic veterinarian.
This booklet, by Jane Messineo Lindquist, lists pros and cons for both health and behavioral concerns related to Spay/Neuter.
I like this book so much, that I've included it in the puppy take home bags for all our puppy families to have as a reference.