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November 6, 2019 – A newly published report from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study shows the timing of a spay or neuter surgery can influence both your dog’s chances of becoming overweight as well as suffering from a cruciate ligament tear.

For nearly a decade, the recommendation that all dogs be spayed or neutered by 6 months of age has been coming under more scrutiny. Some published reports make a compelling argument that large-breed dogs should not be spayed or neutered before 1 year of age. Other reports challenge these findings.

For veterinarians and dog owners, it can be tough deciding what is best. Dr. Missy Simpson, Golden Retriever Lifetime Study epidemiologist, knew that data from the Study provided a unique opportunity to look at these questions. Her goal was to provide information to help owners and veterinarians make the most informed decisions when it comes to this surgery. Her paper on this topic recently was published in the journal PLOS One.

Dr. Simpson looked at data from the entire cohort and found that spayed and neutered dogs had a higher likelihood of overweight/obesity than intact dogs. This observation was consistent across all dogs, regardless of age at spay or neuter. She also noted that dogs neutered or spayed under 6 months of age had a higher incidence of cruciate ligament rupture, independent of weight. This effect was not noted in dogs spayed or neutered after 6 months.

“Our findings support previous retrospective studies that suggest spay/neuter recommendations need to be tailored to the individual dog,” said Dr. Simpson. “It’s important for owners of all dogs to discuss with their veterinarian what is best for their dog based on lifestyle and breed.”