People neuter or spay their pets to prevent unwanted breeding and make them “calmer” or “fix” their personality because neutering is known to eliminate the animal’s marking behavior and natural aggressiveness.
But isn’t it such a cruel decision to make?—depriving a living, healthy creature of its most basic needs in the name of controlling dog population or some other selfish rationalization.
On the other hand, although neutering is said to prevent certain diseases like testicular cancer and prostate disease in male dogs and uterus infections or mammary gland cancer in female dogs, the big health risks that lurk behind, including hyperthyroidism, bladder cancer, and cruciate ligament injury, will make you question if it’s truly worth it.
#1 – Hip dysplasia
While spaying your dog at any age disrupts its hormonal balance and makes it more vulnerable to some serious health problems, spaying your dog when it’s younger than 8 weeks of age may negatively impact the growth of its bones and joints.
Usually, owners choose to neuter their dogs when they’re only a few weeks old to prevent certain diseases, but that may actually cause hip dysplasia where the hip socket does not cover the upper thighbone’s ball portion fully.
In some severe cases, the condition may cripple your dog.
Neutering your puppy can also increase the risk of degenerative joint disease, torn ligaments, and bone cancers.
#2 – Hyperthyroidism
Neutering may also cause your dog to suffer from hyperthyroidism whose symptoms include weakness, vomiting, and severe dehydration.
Removing your dog’s reproductive organ overstresses the other hormone-producing organs and puts your dog at the risk of developing a hyperthyroid which results in tiredness and excessive weight gain.
At least hyperthyroidism can be manageable. However, your dog will have to take daily thyroid supplements for the rest of its life.
#3 – Bladder cancer
© American Kennel Club
Spaying your dog may double the likelihood of urinary tract infections and urinary bladder cancer in both male and female dogs.
Via the bloodstream, bladder cancer in dogs often spreads to lymph nodes that are part of the body’s immune system, and other organs including the kidneys and lungs.
According to studies, 20% of dogs develop bladder cancer due to a combination of factors that may include exposure to insecticides and herbicides substances, used for killing insects, and neutering.
#4 – Cardiac hemangiosarcoma
Another risk you may be putting your dog at is canine cardiac hemangiosarcoma, a cancer type that affects blood vessels and causes them to break open and bleed.
Once neutered, the likelihood of your dog developing cardiac hemangiosarcoma increases by 1.6%.
While Cardiac hemangiosarcoma cancer is rare in people, it is very common in dogs, making up 69% of all cardiac tumors affecting dogs.
#5 – Geriatric cognitive impairment
As neutered dogs grow older, they may develop dog dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), which causes them to forget their owners, training, and way around the house.
Reproductive hormones are believed to be neuroprotective and their loss may result in cognitive impairment, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction in the future in both animals and humans, according to a study at NCBI.
Geriatric cognitive impairment may particularly affect male dogs since testosterone affects the brain’s complex activity and neutering causes testosterone levels to drop low and at a sudden rate.
Neutering may not only cause your dog to live a difficult life due to chronic diseases but also reduce its life expectancy by 30%—according to a 2009 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
It is understandable that raising a dog can be quite expensive and having your dog’s puppies around means more mouths to feed, more pets to vaccinate and train, etc. However, from a moral perspective, spaying a healthy dog is still heartbreaking regardless of the reasons behind it.