Groundbreaking Study Released on Sterilization Alternatives: Spay and Neuter Alternatives for a Healthier Dog

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Rethinking the Impact of Traditional Spay and Neuter Surgeries

In the world of canine care, a fundamental question has emerged: Do traditional spay and neuter surgeries increase the risk for disease, including malignancy? A just-published, first-of-its-kind study involving over 6,000 dog owners has shed light on the truth behind this contentious topic.

Unveiling the Study’s Eye-Opening Findings

The study reveals that spaying or neutering dogs may elevate the risk of various diseases, including multiple types of cancer, while also potentially contributing to behavioral problems. These findings challenge the long-held assumptions surrounding these procedures and prompt us to explore better alternatives for the well-being of our canine companions.

The Neglected Area of Hormone-Preserving Sterilization Techniques

Sadly, the veterinary education system has overlooked the teaching of sterilization techniques that preserve the ovaries or testes and the critical hormones they produce. As a consequence, there has been minimal scientific research conducted to assess the benefits versus drawbacks of these hormone-preserving procedures.

A Paradigm Shift: Study Highlights the Benefits of Gonad-Sparing Sterilization

Enter the groundbreaking study involving over 6,000 dog owners, which has revolutionized our understanding of sterilization alternatives. The research reveals that dogs who undergo spaying or neutering tend to experience more health and behavioral problems compared to intact dogs and those who undergo gonad-sparing sterilization procedures. These results strongly suggest that dogs reap substantial benefits from prolonged exposure to sex hormones. The researchers concluded that alternative surgeries, such as ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies, may lead to improved general health and better behavioral outcomes when compared to traditional spay and neuter surgeries.

Reevaluating the Spay and Neuter Strategy: An Evolving Landscape

In North America, the spaying and neutering of dogs has been widely employed as a means to address pet overpopulation. Additionally, desexing male dogs has been thought to prevent aggression and undesirable behaviors. However, with mounting evidence that desexing may not be universally appropriate, esteemed animal health organizations such as the Morris Animal Foundation and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have started to reassess the 1970s-era orthodoxy that advocated early spay/neuter for all pets in the United States.

The Role of Animal Welfare Organizations in Population Management

Animal welfare groups tasked with managing unwanted pets understandably focus on the bigger picture, aiming to reduce the homeless pet population by preventing pregnancies. While individual pet owners can make sterilization decisions for their own dogs, animal welfare organizations must make choices on a larger scale for the greater good. Consequently, they have traditionally supported early desexing of all companion animals.

Recognizing the Risks: Spays and Neuters Aren’t Without Consequences

Spaying, which entails a hysterectomy plus ovariectomy, involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries in female dogs. While this procedure prevents pregnancy, it also halts the production of essential female hormones that impact the body’s chemical balance, brain function, and potentially memory. On the other hand, neutering male dogs, also known as castration, entails removing the testes, which curbs reproductive abilities but also ceases the production of crucial male hormones, including testosterone. The absence of testosterone can lead to significant physical and behavioral changes, and may even affect cognition.

Embracing Hormone Preservation: The Promise of Gonad-Sparing Procedures

As a passionate advocate for canine health and well-being, I urge all dog owners that decide they must have their dog sterilized to explore alternative sterilization methods, such as ovary-sparing spay and vasectomy. These procedures provide the benefits of sterilization while minimizing the potential risks associated with traditional spay and neuter surgeries. By preserving the ovaries or testes, these hormone-preserving procedures maintain the delicate hormonal balance crucial for a dog’s overall health and behavioral development.

Redefining Sterilization for Canine Health and Well-being

In light of the groundbreaking study on sterilization alternatives for dogs, it is time to challenge the conventional approach to spaying and neutering. The research highlights the importance of considering the potential risks and benefits on an individual basis and embracing alternative procedures, such as ovary-sparing spay and vasectomy. These options offer promising avenues for dog owners who prioritize their pet’s overall health and well-being. As the veterinary community continues to evolve and expand its knowledge in this area, it is crucial for pet owners to stay informed and consult with their veterinarians to make the best decisions for their canine companions. Together, we can redefine sterilization practices to ensure the optimal health and happiness of our dogs. Read the full study here.

Take Action for Your Dogs

Become knowledgeable and very well-versed in the health of your dog. Read studies, do extensive research. It is your responsibility to know all you can and to be an advocate for your dog. Here are a few resources to help:

  • E-mail your state veterinary teaching hospital and the AVMA and urge that veterinarian students be taught alternative spay and neutering techniques in school.


Zink C, Delgado MM, Stella JL. Vasectomy and ovary-sparing spay in dogs: comparison of health and behavior outcomes with gonadectomized and sexually intact dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2023 Jan 19;261(3):366-374. doi: 10.2460/javma.22.08.0382. PMID: 36656681.