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Thread: Neutering at a young age???

  1. #11
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    Boy Rod, I'd have to totally disagree with you there I'm afraid -- from time spent with dogs and with working with rescue groups. I don't view it as only a convenience for owners to prevent unwanted puppies and the stress of pregnancy -- which is far more stressful on a female body (human or otherwise) than not to be pregnant. Also I have found very few cavaliers lacking the general robustness to not easily weather a basic neuter procedure. I think most dog owners generally do not have the wherewithal to manage unneutered males and unspayed females, heats and marking/roaming etc behaviour... dogs do live a life WITH humans and therefore I do think what owners can manage is a major part of the equation. I know many longtime, experienced breeders whose judgement I would totally trust who would not ever have any issues with a late spay either. I do acknowledge that there are different opinions but the potential complications just of basic pregnancies and lost, roaming male dogs (setting aside all other health issues) that would ensue if cavalier owners followed a general policy of not neutering would to me, be FAR more detrimental to individual dog's health and well-being than SM for example. I feel very strongly about that, and I live in a country where cavaliers are a very common breed and where vets have performed thousands of neuters without detrimental affect. I don;t think US cavaliers are that much more delicate than UK or Irish cavaliers. I don;t know a single vet who would feel cavaliers are to be marked out as being a special exemption to the benefits of spay and neuter.

    Here in Ireland (and in the UK) we put down more dogs than can ever be homed and that includes cavaliers and cavalier mixes. I have been told by breed rescue individuals in the US that in some regions, a tipping point has been reached where there are more cavaliers than they can rescue from pounds/shelters. I do not ever think death of unwanted offspring is a reasonable alternative to a spay or neuter of a potential parent, whatever the other considerations.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  2. #12
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    On the one hand, i think karlin you are absolutely right that if the choice is between neutering with its risks and costs to dog health, or unwanted homeless litters of puppies, the higher priority is to take measures to prevent birth of unwanted puppies. On the other hand, i think rod, you are right, it creeps me out to think of altering a dog's hormones like that, we don't do that to humans as a form of birth control, i think because of the health risks (do they have tubal ligation and vasectomy for dogs?). Reading what both of you say, i think it should be on a case by case basis. I can approve of routinely neutering rescue/shelter dogs, or any pet dogs that are free to interact with opposite sex dogs in unintended sexual ways. On the other hand, if a responsible owner is willing to take social measures to prevent unwanted litters, and is able and willing to deal with training a male dog to behave in a "civilized" way that allows the dog to live comfortably people, that seems reasonable to me.

    As for Zack, today i got two 48 inch high pressure mounted gates for the two openings to the kitchen and feel great about that. Now he can be in the whole kitchen when i can't be with him.

    As for him peeing all over the chair--that's a problem. At least when i 'm with him, it seems unlikely he'll do anythnig like that, but i have some furniture that would be ruined if he does what he did to the chair. I did try to wash the chair and the comforter with water and then poured Natures Miracle over the area of the chair he peed on. I can only hope the Natures Miracle reached all the same places the pee reached.

    I want to look into how to train him not to do the marking behavior. I don't consider it acceptable if i take him visiting and he pees in peoples' homes. I won't have the Natures Miracle there with me, and i'd end up leaving him home alone instead of taking him with. Which he would not like nor would i.

    I tried to get myself to make an appointment for the neutering today but procrastinated. I'm hesitating because to me it's a big step, a big intervention in his body.

    Fortunately, so far, his pee doesn't have any odor at all.

    karlin, i feel as you do about crating all day. To me , it seems unnatural and counter to the needs of an exuberant energetic puppy who loves to run around and explore, it just doesn't seem like it can be a healthy thing psychologically, or physically, though i understand that people may have a need for it as i have. I think about the effect it would have on a human to keep them cooped up 16 hours a day in a very small space where all they can do is sit and wait to be let out. Obviously no one would ever want to do that to a child, it would be detrimental to development in many ways. When i first had Zack, i would leave him in the crate for about 4 hours and then come home from work at lunch and let him out and play with him for an hour or a bit more, and then put him back in for another 4 hours. It made me feel bad. i have felt a lot better since i got the pen, even though he still can't run around, it's definitely less claustrophobic and i could see the change in him. Before the pen, he would never never voluntarily go into his crate. Clearly, he didn't consider it a good place to go. But now, in the pen, the crate door is open and he likes to go in, he's comfortable in there, and he also goes into a smaller crate that's in the living room when he's really tired and wants some peace, but before the pen, he would never go in either one.

    He does have lots of safe chew toys. Maybe that's why he doesn't chew my stuff any more than he does. but i know that at any time, he could chew the powerbook AC adapter wire again, or other cables or mementos or odds and ends that are around. I've puppy proofed somewhat but could do more.

    Thank you for the idea about the cardboard box. that sounds like fun! i used to give him a Kong with protreats in it but then he was having all those GI problems and i stopped giving him everything, though i tried to give him duck/potato kibble in the Kong but it falls out too easy and he doesn't really like it anyway. Fortunately, having tried him on some new foods, he hasn't had any symptoms, so i guess i can put something yummy in the Kong again. I hadn't thought of freezing it. great idea!

  3. #13
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    Judy, most responsible breeders would only EVER home any cavalier -- male or female -- on the basis of a spay/neuter contract. I'd never home a single dog without doing this first.

    I can unequivocally state that my two males had absolutely no personality or behaviour changes after neutering EXCEPT they stopped soem of the more unpleasant male behaviours. But even after neuter many males will still mark -- you don't neuter just for this reason but for a range of reasons.

    I think people very detrimentally tend to anthropomorphise dogs and cats (eg think of them as smaller hairier children whose behaviour is just a smaller version of a lot of human behaviour). Dogs and cats are not humans. And for them, a sexual response is not part of a rich emotional side of life or even a pleasant experience but a strict animal response triggered by a flow of hormones that -- if you have ever seen males that cannot get out to reach a female in heat, or a female going through heat -- can literally torment them with its power. I have seen males nearly kill a female in gang sexual attacks because she was in heat and their drive to reach her and mate her becomes obsessive, and they would attack any human trying to intervene. Males will literally climb walls to escape to reach a female in heat they can scent a mile away. I spent a lot of time for one period going into the main Dublin pound and getting info on all dogs there to help with rehoming -- and at any given time, about 75% of the dogs in the pound are male, and of those, about 90% are *unneutered males*. The ones who have clearly been lost for ages and roaming are almost ALWAYS males and less frequently, females in heat. There is nothing pleasant to a dog about going through such cycles or being restrained from reaching something your hormones drive you relentlessly to want to reach.

    Judy if you feel strongly about retaining Zack's testosterone levels then I strongly suggest having him go in for the equivalent of a vasectomy. This will at least make it impossible for him to father puppies (and believe me, they can mount and lock to a female in the three seconds you don't happen to notice a female has come into view). He will still have all his hormone levels and male behaviours and you will need to strongly guard against escape and other issues. Be aware that thius means extreme diligience every time you take him for walks, and being very cautious about ever letting him off lead unless you have perfect recall with him. You can train for these things -- he'd be at the point now where he'd be ready for some basic training as well.

    I doubt he is peeing in your chair because he is male. He is peeing in your chair because he is still a puppy and not fully housetrained. Intact dogs mark -- lift their leg and spray urine on surfaces -- they don't tend to empty their whole bladder in this way.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  4. #14
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    Yikes!! I have to completely disagree with not neutering at all! Jake was neutered at 6 months and it definitely did NOT change his personality. I don't have a general problem with him marking and never did. I do have to watch him initially when he goes into someone's house. As soon as he looks like he's about to lift his leg and I correct him before he can he knows that's not okay and won't try it again.
    Cathy
    Loving mom to Jake, Shelby and Micah

  5. #15
    Rod Russell Guest

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    I am well aware of the conventional wisdom of breeders, and of most owners and veterinarians, to neuter pet dogs. I fully understand the reasonings behind this policy.

    My concerns are with the affect of neutering upon the long term health of the neutered dogs vis-a-vis the intact ones. Dr. Christine Zink suggests that neutering young puppies may be a mistake, presumably due to the continuing need for sex hormones related to growth, particularly bone growth. She says more research is needed. I am all for that. Fortunately, this issue is an across-the-board one for all breeds, so we do not have to wait for the unlikely research paper focused solely upon Cavaliers.

    I have a hunch that the research will show that dogs need their reproductive systems intact to keep their other systems functioning optimally, particularly the immune system. When the reproductive organs are removed, other bodily systems must compensate for the production of hormones which are not there anymore, and this could both overtax the other systems and result in inefficient compensating performances.

    This hunch is based mainly upon conversations I have had recently with veterinarians who have noticed immune problems in Cavaliers and who are knowledgeable about the continuing value of the hormones produced by a functioning reproductive system.

    When vets who previously advocated neutering young dogs now are questioning that policy, their views ought to be considered and may result in further research, much as recent research into the issue of annual vaccinations has resulted in new protocols. At the 2006 North American Veterinary Conference, there was not one paper presented on the topic of neutering canines. I would not be surprised if at the 2007 conference, this topic is discussed.

    One comment about the alleged robustness of the average Cavalier. The average Cavalier has mitral valve disease, and while that disease may not manifest itself in visibly sickly behavior until it approaches the stage of congestive heart failure, it is progressive as sure as a pregnancy is progressive. We may not see the effects MVD has on the Cavalier with a grade 2 to 4 murmur, but it is having a continuous impact upon, not only the heart, but also the renal and hepatic and blood systems, guarantying an overtaxed immune system.

    Knowlegeable veterinarians, particularly cardiologists, tend to agree that a Cavalier with moderate to advanced MVD should not be vaccinated, because of the impact of the vaccine viruses upon the immune system. (See, for example, Dr. Barrett's advice to Darcy on Darcy's Daily Blog on April 15 http://darcysdaily.blogspot.com/ )

    If vaccines could adversely affect the immune system of Cavaliers with MVD, imagine the possible affect of the removal of an entire bodily system that is designed to contribute to the performance of the immune system. So, this is a topic which I think ought to be researched, and hopefully will be in the near future.

    Rod Russell
    Orlando, Florida USA

  6. #16
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    As soon as he looks like he's about to lift his leg and I correct him before he can
    Yeah I know that look they get when they are thinking, "Hmmm, that chair leg sure looks like it needs a bit of a urine spritz..." Jaspar never marks, never has; but Leo (briefly) considers it now and then, only very occasionally, in a house where there are dogs so I know to watch him. Neutering in my experience *definitely* reduces the intent of a male in doing this though. If Leo tries it is a little spritz; CJ, the rescue boy I just had here, would do a major spray and then turn around and go again from the other direction. He was not a pushy or dominant dog at all either (little Leo is the boss around here and made sure he knew it), but he was very, very male.

    My two were neutered at 9 months (Jaspar) and 11 months (Leo) and Jaspar did not get any leggier or taller than he already was at that time, nor did leo (Leo is a very compact, solid 'cobby' boy and fairly small at 15.5 lbs). No personality change whatsoever but it did curtail the marking and humping that started up very fast and was becoming more insistent.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  7. #17
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    karlin--sorry for the misunderstanding--it wasn't Zack's, or any dog's, sexuality i.e. sexual experience, that i was concerned about in being worried about neutering and altering hormones. It was health effects which i became aware of when a friend had a complete hysterectomy in her 30s and then later, studying the effects on the body of menopause. By analogy, I have worried that there can be effects like this on animals too, and that has caused me to hesitate on neutering Zack. But some of the health problems associated with early hysterectomy are caused by hormone replacement therapy, which dogs don't undergo.

    While I'm hesitating, I haven't concluded that neutering is the wrong thing to do for him. I'm just studying the issue, weighing pros and cons and trying to listen to various sides. Even if there were some negative long term health effects, there are other factors to consider, like those you mention--such as emotional factors (high levels of testosterone make some animals overly stressed out apparently) and social factors, such what the owner is willing and able to do and cope with.

    if a general recommendation is to be made, aside from case by case considerations, I agree with you that pet overpopulation is the most urgent serious problem and cause of suffering.

    As far as the negative health effects on dogs of neutering, from what i've seen so far, this hasn't been studied enough to have very certain answers. Osteoporosis is apparently a known risk, and is complicated by obesity, which can be constrolled by an owner, but without obesity, osteoporosis still occurs. I think there are other growth related skeletal problems but again, am not sure about how much research there's been. Apparently there is some evidence for an association with malignant prostate cancer risk, but i don't know how much.

    These are things i have wanted to be more informed about, but i am not finding anything which is persuading me not to neuter, when weighing the pros and cons. I'm thinking about waiting until Zack is a year old, but again, i'm still studying this, and might have him neutered sooner. I had been putting off thinking about it, but now he's 6 months and i need to decide what to do.

    I had a friend who had a male dog who had a very strong sex drive and that unneutered dog was always acting kind of frantic, panting, and he appeared to be in a chronic state of emotional stress and unable to relax. One time my friend went to visit his parents and they all went out to dinner and left the dog at home. When they returned there was a hole in their wooden front door! and the dog was gone. They really could not figure out what had happened at first. Later, the dog returned or was found. He was taken to a vet to talk about how he had apparently managed to bite and claw through a wooden door. The vet said it was his sex drive and that neutering him would be a big help. My friend had a lot of reservations about neutering his dog, for the kinds of reasons you mention, thinking this would deprive the dog of something basically essential, but eventually my friend did have the dog neutered, after continuing to observe the sort of always distraught emotional state of the dog, and the neutering made a huge difference for the better. the dog seemed much calmer and happier as a result.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Russell
    .....This hunch is based mainly upon conversations I have had recently with veterinarians who have noticed immune problems in Cavaliers and who are knowledgeable about the continuing value of the hormones produced by a functioning reproductive system.

    When vets who previously advocated neutering young dogs now are questioning that policy, their views ought to be considered and may result in further research, much as recent research into the issue of annual vaccinations has resulted in new protocols....
    In considering an association between neutering and immune system functioning, do these vets speculate that observed impairment of immunity can be caused by neutering independently of the chaotic effects on immunity suspected to be caused by vaccination? Clearly this is an area in need of good research.

  9. #19
    Rod Russell Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by judy
    In considering an association between neutering and immune system functioning, do these vets speculate that observed impairment of immunity can be caused by neutering independently of the chaotic effects on immunity suspected to be caused by vaccination? Clearly this is an area in need of good research.
    Not the vets I have discussed this with. The impact of vaccines upon the immune system probably is easier to observe than the impact of neutering. However, more and more dogs are not being vaccinated as often or with as many vaccines as in past generations, and yet immune system deficiencies still crop up. I know of one Cavalier, for example, that had such a deficient immune system from an early age that the vets recommended that the dog not even be given its first rabies booster injection.

    So, if vaccines are the primary cause of immune system problems, a question may be whether the affects of vaccines are passed from parents, particularly the dam, to the un-vaccinated puppies.

    Rod Russell
    Orlando, Florida USA

  10. #20
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    I like to neuter puppies as early as possibly (especially males). I have had them neutered as young as 8 weeks. One time I had a rescue adult, a 4 month old pup, and an 8 week old that went in at the same time for neutering. The 8 week old pup was up and running around when I picked them up (a few hours after surgery). The 4 month old was drowsy that day, but back to normal the next day. The adult was lethargic and seemed to be in pain for about a week. The young pups had no ill effects (unless you count never lifting their leg). One reason most vets won't spay/ neuter early is because it is more difficult for them (anestitising them and getting out tiny "parts"). If they are extremely small (under 3 lbs) I do wait until they are larger.
    Amanda
    Carling Chinese Cresteds
    http://www.carlingchinesecrested.com

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