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Do Neutered Dogs Live Longer?

Do Neutered Dogs Live Longer?

We all want to care for our dogs in the best way possible. And one of the biggest decisions we have to make is whether or not to spay or neuter our pets. So we take to the internet to try and find all the answers. But, Google can be a confusing place. And if you ask around for advice from other dog owners, you can get differences in opinions. One of the top differences you will find is about the lifespan of fixed pets. Let’s take a look at the science and do neutered dogs live longer? 

Do Neutered dogs live longer?

Neuter Dog Lifespan

The University of Georgia did a study in 2013 to finally solve the debate “do neutered dogs live longer?” They took public records from the Veterinary Medical Database from 1984 to 2004. This sample consisted of over 40,000 dogs, and what they found was shocking. Before this study, it had been a long-held myth that fixed dogs had shorter lifespans. 

But according to this study, the unfixed dogs lived an average of 7.9 years. And the neuter dog lifespan was 9.4 years. But what could be the reasons behind this? While there are no studies on exactly why neutered dogs live longer, there are some theories. 

Theories On Why

The records used to come to our conclusion are missing vital information. They don’t show all of the critical elements needed that tell precisely why neutered dogs live longer. For instance, the records from the Veterinary Medical Database does not include the quality of care these neutered dogs have. They also don’t include things like the breeds of dogs or age that the dogs were neutered. Even something so small as if the dogs are purebred might effect if neutering prolongs a dog’s life. And most importantly, it doesn’t include the cause of death in many of the cases involved. 

We don’t know if there will ever be a comprehensive study on this. But here are a few theories on why neutering might prolong your dog’s life. 

  1. Neutering your dog might help reduce reproductive health infections. With fewer infections, their quality of life is better and might help dogs live longer. 
  2. Neutering also reduces your dog’s chances of getting reproductive cancer. But neutering can also leave your dog susceptible to other cancers. So this theory needs a lot of testing to prove. 
  3. Unneutered dogs also tend to roam more. Roaming increases the chances of your dog contracting illnesses or infections. It can also lead to accidents that could claim your dog’s life too early. 
  4. Healthy pets live the longest no matter what breed they are. Neutering your pet could give them a healthier life altogether if your breed is prone to certain diseases. 
  5. And finally, neutered dogs might not be as prone to mental and emotional illness. The mental health of your dog is essential and contributes to healthy immune systems and proper care. This is especially true for older dogs. 

Without a controlled study, we will never know precisely why do neutered dogs live longer. Correlation does not mean causation in many points in science. 

What About Spaying?

So, we have talked about neutering. But does spaying increase lifespan as well? Or does spaying a dog shorten its life? According to the study by the University of Georgia, it increases. They found that both males and females have the same average life expectancy when fixed vs. nonfixed. But there are just as many points missing as in neutering. 

In addition to everything already mentioned, we have to add conceiving to the list of missing research. For every litter a dog carries, there are risks involved. The mother could develop lifelong problems after a litter or contract an infection. And in cases of overbreeding, this could decrease the expected lifespan of a female. All of these variables are missing and almost impossible to get. 

Should I Neuter My Dog? 

Spaying and neutering your pet is a decision that is entirely up to you. There are pros and cons to each side of the story. And you should be well informed before making it. To give you a little insight, here are a few reasons why you should and shouldn’t neuter your dog. 

Pros To Neuter Your Dog

  • No unexpected litters. Whether you have a male or female, all parties are responsible for an unplanned litter. If you have a male who gets out a lot, you could have a few upset neighbors if their females become pregnant. 
  • Unneutered males tend to roam more. If you neuter a dog, he will be more likely to stay on your property and not bother the neighbors. 
  • Reduces marking and humping behaviors in some dogs. 
  • Neutering can help with dogs who are overly aggressive due to hormones. If your dog is aggressive due to breeding behaviors, neutering is the best way to calm them. 
  • Can calm a hyperactive dog down and help with focus. Many people claim that their dogs are so much easier to train once fixed. 
  • Reduces the chances of testicular and prostate cancer as they age. 
  • And of course, it may increase the lifespan of your dog.

Cons: Why Not Neuter Your Dog

  • Because dogs tend to calm down after neutering, they also are prone to obesity. You will need to keep an eye on their weight and make sure that they are getting plenty of exercise to make up for the lost energy. 
  • Some studies have shown that neutered dogs are prone to hypothyroidism. Regular check-ups could prevent this illness from getting out of hand when caught early. 
  • Testosterone in male dogs is also linked to preventing geriatric cognitive impairment. This is like a dog version of dementia and can cause severe memory loss in some breeds.
  • And neutering your dog too early could cause problems with joints, ligaments, and bone growth. Timing is everything, especially with larger breeds. 

As you can see, there are a lot of pros to neutering dogs. Depending on your dog’s health and lifestyle, you may decide neutering is not for you. But if you choose against neutering or spaying your dog, you should take careful precautions. Having an intact animal means you are responsible for any accident litters and care for the puppies. 

Are There Complications?

 Your dog going into surgery is a significant deal. And any vet will tell you that there are complications from neutering dog. Some dogs could react to the anesthesia. They could also develop an infection or abscess at the procedure site. But neutering and spaying your dog is a widespread practice, and the percent of complications are very minimal. With the proper care and trusted staff, your dog is in good hands. 

Most vets will tell you to keep your dog calm for a few weeks. They will also give you medications with instructions on giving it to help with your dog’s pain. Some dogs lose their appetite, but you can entice them to eat by mixing their food with canned. In about ten days, your dog will be feeling back to normal and almost completely healed. 

What Age Is Best?

Ultimately, this depends on what you are comfortable with and your dog’s size. Some larger breeds could benefit from neutering later in life. Neutering dogs after 1 year could help with bone structure and joint health. Smaller breeds do best when neutered after six months for the same benefits. Doodles, in particular, suffer from joint issues. So you will want to wait until after 18 months for most large breeds. Most vets will recommend an age limit of 6 months, but you should research your dog’s breed specifically.

Many people are tempted to neuter once their males start showing signs of marking or humping. But letting your dogs go through this puberty phase could help them in more ways. There is a long-standing theory that dogs who go through puberty grow up to be healthier. They have a decreased risk of obesity and cancer later in life. 

Is There An Age Limit?

While there are no age limits for neutering a dog, you have the most benefits when done early. For instance, neutering an 8-year-old male dog because of aggressiveness won’t be as effective. But it can be done with a little post-op care. Neutering an older dog side effects are the same as when they are young. But older dogs have an increased risk of reactions to anesthesia. 

Other than this, you will also need to take extra precautions at home. Helping your dog up and downstairs and keeping their appetite up are your main concerns. After about two weeks, your dog will be feeling back to normal. 

Don’t Rush Your Decision.

Do neutered dogs live longer? Yes, but this is not reason enough to get it done today. There are lots of factors to consider when it comes to neutering. And lifespan shouldn’t be your only reason to do it. But it does give you a little hope that your dog will live longer than average. As long as you are taking proper care of your dog, your dog will live a long life. 

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