Spaying and Castrating Dogs The Kinder Alternative
OSS Ovary Sparing Spay and Vasectomy for Dogs
Brief Overview: For the last 21 years I have had major concerns about the UK’s Spay and Castration (Neuter) program,
In January 2001 I changed my initial pre behavioural appointment questionnaire and added one question. The responses to that question shocked me and sent me on a mission of research and learning that has lasted 21 years.
The question was “Have you neutered your dog and if so at what age?” The answers I received to that question made me realise there could be a major problem with neutering dogs. Unfortunately, at that time I had no idea why neutering was causing this problem or what were the answers?
What had really shocked me was that nearly 82% of my clients over that year had neutered their dogs and most of them before full maturity. We must remember spaying and castration was not as widespread and common as it is today.
It made me research in-depth all the current knowledge on the effects of neutering known at that time which was very little, and I have followed the slow realisation of the veterinary profession that Neutering is certainly not the panacea for all problems that people perceive it to be, in fact, the opposite may be true.
I have written numerous articles on the effects and major concerns I have of neutering our dogs. Neutering is the generic term for Spaying and Castration the surgical removal of either the testicles (male) or the ovaries and uterus of the female.
Therefore, I do not intend to get bogged down in the physical and behavioural problems that these procedures can create as they will be covered in all the links I will give below.
HORMONES: I need to explain that by removing the ovaries and the testicles you are removing or dramatically reducing three vital hormones. And this is where the main behavioural, health and physical problems are being created.
We stopped doing ovary removal on human females called “ovariectomy” in the mid-1950s except for life-threatening medical reasons as it brought on “surgical menopause” which was deemed dangerous and unhealthy. That is exactly what we are doing to our dogs.
OESTROGEN: An extremely powerful female sex hormone that regulates many aspects of our life. This hormone plays a vital role in mental and physical health. It is also present to a lesser extent in male dogs. There are oestrogen receptors in bones, the brain, blood vessels, and the central nervous system.
It affects so many different parts of the body and is also vitally important to mood and well-being. It also keeps bones strong and healthy. Hence a woman goes through the change the first problem is osteoporosis, also known as brittle bones plus lack of concentration and mood swings and the list goes on.
PROGESTERONE: One of the female sex hormones also produced by the ovaries, also in the adrenal glands in male dogs. It aids immunity and can reduce inflammation and swelling; it also helps regulate the thyroid gland and keeps blood-clotting levels at normal levels. It has also been linked to forming social bonds in humans and animals.
TESTOSTERONE: This is seen predominately as a male hormone. However, females produce small amounts of it in their ovaries. A link between diabetes and low testosterone is well established, as is the onset of obesity and poor muscle tone leading to apathetic behaviour and lack of vigour.
Adverse Effects of Neutering: Spaying and castration are associated with an increased risk of several long-term health problems including obesity, urinary incontinence, bladder stones, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s, diabetes mellitus, hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, behavioural changes (including owner-directed aggression and fear), cognition problems, as well as several forms of cancer (including leukaemia, prostate cancer, bone cancer, skin cancer, splenic cancer, and bladder cancer).to name but a few.
I mentioned prostate cancer in that list Vets and a high percentage of dog owners believe that neutering reduces the risk of prostate problems that are simply not true. (1) Prostate Cancer Dogs.
What Is the Alternative?
America: In the USA they have been practising something called OSS (Ovary Saving Spay) and a V section (Vasectomy) the first work done on this was in 1972 50 years ago by an America Vet (2) Belfield
So the procedure is not new and for the last 25 years, thousands of Vets have been offering these procedures. So why are they not available in the UK? I believe that the main reason for not embracing new scientific knowledge can be summed up in one-word Apathy.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the BVA British Veterinary Association are blinkered and run by seat warmers rather than innovators they are outdated and have not kept up with the science and the need for change.
Young vets coming out of Veterinary College are not told or taught of any alternatives to the standard spay or neutering program. The general public is concerned because of all the adverse science now being shared on the internet and other channels regarding standard neutering.
Hysterectomy: This is how the OSS operation works. The best hormone-preserving sterilization for female dogs is a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus and cervix while leaving the ovaries intact, called ovary-sparing (OSS) or partial spay. You could opt for Tubal Ligation instead, but this will not remove the risk of Pyometra.
OSS removes the nuisance of bleeding during heats, along with the risk of infection of the uterus (pyometra), if the entire uterus is removed. If some uterine tissue is left, “stump pyometra” may occur. More in-depth details of the technique for both male and female dogs (3) OSS and Vasectomy Procedures
After the procedure, the female dog is sterile though she will still have hormones, and may behave differently during the heat cycle. And while she cannot get pregnant and she will not bleed, she may be attractive to males during heat therefore owners may want to keep her indoors during this time.
Ovarian cancer is often cited as an argument for removing ovaries but ovarian cancer is rare, and the small risk does not outweigh the health benefits of preserving those vital sex hormones.
Vasectomy: Vasectomy in dogs is similar to the procedure for men. Each sperm tube is cut or clamped so that sperm cannot travel to the female. The procedure is completed under anaesthesia but is relatively quick and simple.
There are few health concerns when completing hormone-sparing sterilization on a male dog since the health conditions prevented by neuter are benign prostatic hyperplasia normally in older dogs which is treated by neutering or non-invasive electromagnetic therapy, the other is testicular cancer also treated by castration, The dog will be sterile but will still have hormones and be attracted to females in heat.
Both Hysterectomy and Vasectomy are far less invasive than the current full neutering. Currently, there are very few veterinary practices that is offering this service. The word STERILISATION IS NOT UNKNOWN. It is how humans control family sizes there is no canine pill to control seasons and pregnancy in dogs. There is a sort of morning-after pill, but most vets will not prescribe it because of the very real side effects.
Below is a Vet that has agreed that I can publish the fact that they offer OSS and Vasectomies. There are two others but they were concerned about the level of enquiries they would get. Towerwood Vets have got three different surgeries. However, I would recommend you contact your own vets quoting this article and some of the links explain why OSS and Vasectomies are far healthier for our dogs and one of them has a breakdown of the surgery and ask them if they can perform this surgery.
I have started a Facebook page that people can join with their stories of neutering and successes with OSS and Vasectomies plus any vets will be able to add their name to the list. So hopefully the list will grow. Ovary Sparing Spay and Vasectomy For Dogs UK.
28 February 2022
Brendan Clarke- BVetMed VetMFHom MRCVS
Cookridge: 27 Tinshill Rd Leeds LS16 7DR Tel: 0113 267 8419
Greengates: 76 New Line Bradford BD10 9AP Tel: 01274 610627
(3) OSS and Vasectomy Procedures This is to explain to Vets the full procedure
(4) The Parsemus Foundation A great article covering alternatives to Spay and Castrate
(6) Neutering in Depth. My article gives far more information
(7) Neutering at Six Weeks. The RSPCA and some Breeders are neutering at six weeks of age
(8) BMC Veterinary Research Scientific proof of the harm that neutering is causing to our dogs