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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I know there are a few posts on the forum about this already but I'm hoping to see if anyone has anything to add more recently.
I'm currently researching the best age to spay our puppy. Our vet has recommended the common six month age but many people have said wait until after the first season. Ideally we would prefer not to let her get to her first heat but wouldn't want to do anything detrimental to her health for the sake of our convenience.
I'm wondering if anyone has actually had a poodle suffer with growth plates continuing to grow past the point they normally would?
A lot of my research is showing that the benefits of having the operation at 6 months outweigh the risks. Due to the reduction in risks of mamarian and ovarian cancer.
Research, more so proof of theories does seem to be limited. Could anyone point me in the right direction for more research?
Thanks very much!
 

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There really isn鈥檛 that high of a chance for cancer... A lot of the shelter and general dog websites try to scare people by saying that the risk is oh-so-high, and fudge the statistics to their point of view. Yes, there is always a chance. But it鈥檚 highly unlikely for it to happen to a 1 year old, or even 2 year old dog. The benefits outweigh the risk in this case, and as Vita pointed out, spaying early can actually lead to some bad consequences.
 

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What are the dates and sources of your research?
This is a recent, small individual breed sampling. but a years long study of dogs thru UCDavis vet clinic shows these results:


the full study:

with growth plates continuing to grow past the point they normally would?
The growth plate problem isn't a continued growing, it's removing some of the hormones needed to fuel all body systems growth and maturation, including growth plates, before they close..

Think of it this way...Would you remove the uterus and ovaries of a 10-13 year old human? It sounds exaggerated, but unless there's a compelling medical reason to do so, both the dog and the human do better if they can mature without losing important to growth hormones..

There is an option however not many vets may be comfortable with it. That would be removing only the uterus and leaving the ovaries. No bleeding, hormones remain (including "changes" associated with being in heat), but no possibility of pregnancy or stump pyometra, if all of the uterus is completely removed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Except for people who allow their dogs to roam in the neighborhood or countryside, there are sound reasons for avoiding an early spay. This one is the best:

Before You Do Something Permanent, Know About Growth Plates

followed by this part of this article: 7C. Incontinence after dog spaying surgery.
Thanks for that, I have already read the first one. The article on incontinence was interesting. I must admit it didn't seem to warn against holding off spaying due to potential incontinence?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What are the dates and sources of your research?
This is a recent, small individual breed sampling. but a years long study of dogs thru UCDavis vet clinic shows these results:


the full study:



The growth plate problem isn't a continued growing, it's removing some of the hormones needed to fuel all body systems growth and maturation, including growth plates, before they close..

Think of it this way...Would you remove the uterus and ovaries of a 10-13 year old human? It sounds exaggerated, but unless there's a compelling medical reason to do so, both the dog and the human do better if they can mature without losing important to growth hormones..

There is an option however not many vets may be comfortable with it. That would be removing only the uterus and leaving the ovaries. No bleeding, hormones remain (including "changes" associated with being in heat), but no possibility of pregnancy or stump pyometra, if all of the uterus is completely removed.
That looks great thanks, I'll have to read the study later as it looks like a long one haha.
As far as leaving the ovaries I have not done enough research to comment but I listened to a podcast yesterday that advises against it. 'The dog health and happiness podcast' on Spotify if you have it!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
There really isn鈥檛 that high of a chance for cancer... A lot of the shelter and general dog websites try to scare people by saying that the risk is oh-so-high, and fudge the statistics to their point of view. Yes, there is always a chance. But it鈥檚 highly unlikely for it to happen to a 1 year old, or even 2 year old dog. The benefits outweigh the risk in this case, and as Vita pointed out, spaying early can actually lead to some bad consequences.
I think the cancer statistics was a correlation of unspayed bitches developing cancer in their later years.
 

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odcast yesterday that advises against it. 'The dog health and happiness podcast' on Spotify if you have it!
I don't so I poked around the internet to see what fragments I could find. If I landed on the right podcast descriptive page
What is Spaying a Dog? What the Vet Says 鈰 Bella & Duke Raw Food

I find that the expert is Dr Brendan Clarke, President of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society. I must assume that he is well qualified and well versed on the subjects discussed in the podcasts, but I think I'd feel better hearing from a vet specializing in reproductive medicine. If I could hear the statements in context, that could change my feeling there.
I next find this on the descriptive page: (This is where I must admit a skepticism of homeopathic medicine in general. I don't dismiss it outright, medicine is as much art and intuition as science, but I'll always look to hard science first. I also couldn't find a way to bring up a search box to look for the referred to info on the various spaying procedures.)

What is spaying a dog? The 3 types of spaying
Dr. Clarke discusses 3 different types of spaying. You may refer to the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons website at www.bahvs.com to read more about these procedures and to find a listing of vets who are qualified to do them. Just remember that it is very important to discuss with your own vet concerning the right procedure for your dog.

  1. A classic spay is a midline incision about halfway between the umbilicus and the pubis. The size of the incision will depend on the expertise and experience of the vet doing the operation. The classic spay removes everything from above the ovaries to the cervix.
  2. An ovarian sparing spay modifies the classic procedure to leave behind one of the ovaries. This helps to retain sufficient hormones to allow for the maturity of the skeletal system and prevent runaway TSH, which can stimulate cancer cells. Ovary-Sparing Spay - Parsemus Foundation
  3. A laparoscopic spay, also known as a keyhole spay, creates three ports incised into the abdomen to remove either only the ovaries or one ovary and the uterus. The aim of laparoscopic surgery is to reduce incision size and discomfort from stretching ligaments and other pain-inducing factors in the process of doing the operation.
The #2 link goes to this site
where only a quick glance seems to feel it is a positive option.

From this much, I have to conclude that I landed on the wrong podcast page.
 

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The growth plate problem isn't a continued growing, it's removing some of the hormones needed to fuel all body systems growth and maturation, including growth plates, before they close..
I need to clarify this statement. If de-sexed prior to physical maturity, with regulatory hormones gone, the growth plates will continue to build bone longer than they should.

The cause of the problem is the removal of the source of the regulatory hormones before they have done their work. The result is a dog with longer bones than if the plates had closed normally.

They'll look leggier than the dogs with normally closed plates.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I don't so I poked around the internet to see what fragments I could find. If I landed on the right podcast descriptive page
What is Spaying a Dog? What the Vet Says 鈰 Bella & Duke Raw Food

I find that the expert is Dr Brendan Clarke, President of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society. I must assume that he is well qualified and well versed on the subjects discussed in the podcasts, but I think I'd feel better hearing from a vet specializing in reproductive medicine. If I could hear the statements in context, that could change my feeling there.
I next find this on the descriptive page: (This is where I must admit a skepticism of homeopathic medicine in general. I don't dismiss it outright, medicine is as much art and intuition as science, but I'll always look to hard science first. I also couldn't find a way to bring up a search box to look for the referred to info on the various spaying procedures.)

What is spaying a dog? The 3 types of spaying
Dr. Clarke discusses 3 different types of spaying. You may refer to the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons website at www.bahvs.com to read more about these procedures and to find a listing of vets who are qualified to do them. Just remember that it is very important to discuss with your own vet concerning the right procedure for your dog.

  1. A classic spay is a midline incision about halfway between the umbilicus and the pubis. The size of the incision will depend on the expertise and experience of the vet doing the operation. The classic spay removes everything from above the ovaries to the cervix.
  2. An ovarian sparing spay modifies the classic procedure to leave behind one of the ovaries. This helps to retain sufficient hormones to allow for the maturity of the skeletal system and prevent runaway TSH, which can stimulate cancer cells. Ovary-Sparing Spay - Parsemus Foundation
  3. A laparoscopic spay, also known as a keyhole spay, creates three ports incised into the abdomen to remove either only the ovaries or one ovary and the uterus. The aim of laparoscopic surgery is to reduce incision size and discomfort from stretching ligaments and other pain-inducing factors in the process of doing the operation.
The #2 link goes to this site
where only a quick glance seems to feel it is a positive option.

From this much, I have to conclude that I landed on the wrong podcast page.
That's not the one I listened to but I've added it to the list so it's a good find either way!
This is the one I listened to, I was skeptical at first but the vet he interviewed was very down to earth and had years of experience so worth a listen if you're interested. It's frustrating how spread out the information is.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I need to clarify this statement. If de-sexed prior to physical maturity, with regulatory hormones gone, the growth plates will continue to build bone longer than they should.

The cause of the problem is the removal of the source of the regulatory hormones before they have done their work. The result is a dog with longer bones than if the plates had closed normally.

They'll look leggier than the dogs with normally closed plates.
That makes sense. So is it a certainty that this happens and is it damaging to the bitch if it does?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
What are the dates and sources of your research?
This is a recent, small individual breed sampling. but a years long study of dogs thru UCDavis vet clinic shows these results:


the full study:



The growth plate problem isn't a continued growing, it's removing some of the hormones needed to fuel all body systems growth and maturation, including growth plates, before they close..

Think of it this way...Would you remove the uterus and ovaries of a 10-13 year old human? It sounds exaggerated, but unless there's a compelling medical reason to do so, both the dog and the human do better if they can mature without losing important to growth hormones..

There is an option however not many vets may be comfortable with it. That would be removing only the uterus and leaving the ovaries. No bleeding, hormones remain (including "changes" associated with being in heat), but no possibility of pregnancy or stump pyometra, if all of the uterus is completely removed.
I had a read of the study and it seems that they concluded female standards can be spayed at the 6 month point with relative safety.
 

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The maturity age for standards is 18-24 months. In the last three years and some that I've been looking at this topic I've never seen a study that stated 6 months is a safe age to spay a standard girl.
The UCDavis study suggests no younger than one year for improving odds for one set of conditions and two years for even better odds.

I'll say that for my own dog, I would not be taking advice from a vet on a podcast, unless that vet is a published researcher or certified in the reproductive field.

The vet they use for each of these podcasts seems to be the same one and I've found nothing indicating that he has qualifications in either.
 

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That makes sense. So is it a certainty that this happens and is it damaging to the bitch if it does?
Is it a certainty that the removal of the ovaries will remove the hormones associated with them?
Yes
Is it a certainty that this will be damaging?
No

The removal of the source of hormones (too soon - prior to having time to do their job in the still maturing body)
can affect many body systems. Growth pattern may be affected in the short term and endocrine diseases, cancers, and possibly more in the longer term.

I need to look at why the two papers I linked seem to draw different conclusions. They are drawn from the same study.
 

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I think this is something each dog owner should chose themselves. I agonized for months, rereading studies etc.

I got the impression at my vet that they wanted me to spay her, not because they were particularly worried about her health, but they were worried i would have a change of heart and produce doodles. When i said - nope, NO puppies, one puppy is more than enough work, rhey stopped pressuring about an early spay.

I chose to spay Annie at 18 months. She hadnt had her first heat at that point. Her breeder required i wait until after 12 months. Seeing how much extra growing and shape changing she experienced between 6 mo and 12 mo/18 mo, i was glad to wait.

One comment i have seen is that the cancers a late spay are protective against are typically more deadly than those an early spay are protective against. Osteosarcoma killed my last dog quickly and painfully, and is a cancer of the bone a late spay is supposed to protect against. Allegedly (i am not a vet!) Mammary cancer is not as deadly and easier to treat. The other comment i saw was that the risk of mammary cancer increases after each heat - i looked at the risk after one heat, and it was pretty minimal, but wouldnt have been willing to let her have two. Interestingly, when i looked at the stats, the rates quoted by my vet were significantly higher than the recent research findings.

The other thing i have noticed, hanging out in the local dog park watching dogs run is that, especially for males, but also females, i can usually guess if an adult dog was altered after 1 year or not. The later altered dogs tend to have better, freer movement while running, and be less inclined to limping/hip dysplasia and pain. I especially notice this in labs and giant breed dogs. I have seem some comments that later altering is protective against ACL tears and other injuries, and i believe that based on the dogs i have watched. Based on what i have seen, i would want to alter a male at 2 years.
 

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Is it a certainty that the removal of the ovaries will remove the hormones associated with them?
Yes
Is it a certainty that this will be damaging?
No

The removal of the source of hormones (too soon - prior to having time to do their job in the still maturing body)
can affect many body systems. Growth pattern may be affected in the short term and endocrine diseases, cancers, and possibly more in the longer term.

I need to look at why the two papers I linked seem to draw different conclusions. They are drawn from the same study.
I think they were looking at different health effects. The poodle specific one I'm sure looked at Addison's.

All sorts of diseases and orthopedic issues are correlated to early spay/neuter. I believe stats in mammary cancer are usually quoted in an extremely misleading way. I believe the chance increase for waiting for first or second heat is really very small. I would wait for one or two heats depending on age of first heat. For mental and physical development.
 

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I think this is something each dog owner should chose themselves. I agonized for months, rereading studies etc.

I got the impression at my vet that they wanted me to spay her, not because they were particularly worried about her health, but they were worried i would have a change of heart and produce doodles. When i said - nope, NO puppies, one puppy is more than enough work, rhey stopped pressuring about an early spay.

I chose to spay Annie at 18 months. She hadnt had her first heat at that point. Her breeder required i wait until after 12 months. Seeing how much extra growing and shape changing she experienced between 6 mo and 12 mo/18 mo, i was glad to wait.

One comment i have seen is that the cancers a late spay are protective against are typically more deadly than those an early spay are protective against. Osteosarcoma killed my last dog quickly and painfully, and is a cancer of the bone a late spay is supposed to protect against. Allegedly (i am not a vet!) Mammary cancer is not as deadly and easier to treat. The other comment i saw was that the risk of mammary cancer increases after each heat - i looked at the risk after one heat, and it was pretty minimal, but wouldnt have been willing to let her have two. Interestingly, when i looked at the stats, the rates quoted by my vet were significantly higher than the recent research findings.

The other thing i have noticed, hanging out in the local dog park watching dogs run is that, especially for males, but also females, i can usually guess if an adult dog was altered after 1 year or not. The later altered dogs tend to have better, freer movement while running, and be less inclined to limping/hip dysplasia and pain. I especially notice this in labs and giant breed dogs. I have seem some comments that later altering is protective against ACL tears and other injuries, and i believe that based on the dogs i have watched. Based on what i have seen, i would want to alter a male at 2 years.
Yes I can also tell this and it's a big reason I advocate late neuter. Males seem to get more muscle development and have better rear drive and a more powerful stride. Females seem to have a much more fluid and graceful movement that still exudes energy. Part is muscle development and part is bone I think. Because the leg bones stop growing at different times. So neutering before growth is complete will result in mismatched bones. This increases strain which increases chance of CCL tear.
 

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I'll add or emphasize that in an early spay/neuter before physical maturity is complete, the dog's legs will be longer - but their overall bone density is thinner.

You mentioned concerns that never spayed females are more likely to get cancer. Most quoted on the Internet are results from this original study done in Mexico and published in 2015, titled:
Epidemiological Study of Mammary Tumors in Female Dogs Diagnosed during the Period 2002-2012: A Growing Animal Health Problem

The odds are still quite low if spayed after the first heat but before the second.

"...In Veterinary medicine, mammary tumors represent the most frequently diagnosed neoplasm in intact female dogs, and 50% of these are malignant [1]. A study focusing on the incidence of canine mammary tumors found tumors in approximately 0.05% of females that were spayed before their first heat cycle. This figure increased to 8% or 26% when the animals were spayed after their first or second heat, respectively. However, if the animals were spayed later, the risk of developing malignant tumors (MN) was the same as for an intact bitch [2]..."

It strikes me as a gamble on what any owner would choose:

You could spay before her first heat, using as a guide when the puppy's mother, aunts or grandmother had their first heat. The outcome is a taller poodle with thinner bone mass, and any other associated problems and benefits as described here. One benefit would be extremely low odds (0.5%) of ever getting a mammary tumor or reproductive cancer.

Or you could wait until a few months after her first heat. Her bones will be stronger, and she'll have other benefits from waiting until her body is closer to full adult stage, but her odds are 8% that she'll get mammary tumors or cancer when she's 9 to 12 years old. That's still 92% odds that she won't.

I guess the first thing I would do is try to find out when her mother and any close maternal relatives had their first heat; this will give you a clue when your puppy will have hers. Hopefully after 14+ which I've read here on PF is sort of benchmark. After that, it's consider all available info, flip a coin or go with your gut. Good luck!
 

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I'll add or emphasize that in an early spay/neuter before physical maturity is complete, the dog's legs will be longer - but their overall bone density is thinner.

You mentioned concerns that never spayed females are more likely to get cancer. Most quoted on the Internet are results from this original study done in Mexico and published in 2015, titled:
Epidemiological Study of Mammary Tumors in Female Dogs Diagnosed during the Period 2002-2012: A Growing Animal Health Problem

The odds are still quite low if spayed after the first heat but before the second.

"...In Veterinary medicine, mammary tumors represent the most frequently diagnosed neoplasm in intact female dogs, and 50% of these are malignant [1]. A study focusing on the incidence of canine mammary tumors found tumors in approximately 0.05% of females that were spayed before their first heat cycle. This figure increased to 8% or 26% when the animals were spayed after their first or second heat, respectively. However, if the animals were spayed later, the risk of developing malignant tumors (MN) was the same as for an intact bitch [2]..."

It strikes me as a gamble on what any owner would choose:

You could spay before her first heat, using as a guide when the puppy's mother, aunts or grandmother had their first heat. The outcome is a taller poodle with thinner bone mass, and any other associated problems and benefits as described here. One benefit would be extremely low odds (0.5%) of ever getting a mammary tumor or reproductive cancer.

Or you could wait until a few months after her first heat. Her bones will be stronger, and she'll have other benefits from waiting until her body is closer to full adult stage, but her odds are 8% that she'll get mammary tumors or cancer when she's 9 to 12 years old. That's still 92% odds that she won't.

I guess the first thing I would do is try to find out when her mother and any close maternal relatives had their first heat; this will give you a clue when your puppy will have hers. Hopefully after 14+ which I've read here on PF is sort of benchmark. After that, it's consider all available info, flip a coin or go with your gut. Good luck!
That's definitely worth finding out, I'll contact the breeder tomorrow. I thought it was closer the 8 -12 months for the first heat.
 

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Peggy had her first heat at 8.5 months (easy peasy), and her second one almost exactly six months later (much more challenging). We're now trying to decide if we should spay in November, before her third heat, or wait until she's two, which is what some people have recommended to us.

Our vet has been pushing us to spay her since she was four months, but I'm so glad we didn't. Her snuggly personality emerged with her first heat.
 
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