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The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) is pleased to announce additional funding for continuing research on the health implications of early spay and neuter in dogs. The funding was awarded to Dr. Benjamin L. Hart of the University of California, Davis to expand his earlier work and consider breed differences in vulnerability to joint disorders and risks of various cancers after early or late spay/neuter.
Last year, Dr. Hart and a team of researchers published their phase one findings, “Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers,” also funded by CHF, in the prominent, open access journal PLOS One, suggesting that veterinarians should be more cautious about the age at which they spay and neuter in order to protect the overall health of dogs. Currently, most dogs in the United States are spayed or neutered prior to maturity. Dr. Hart’s first phase of research looked at incidence of cancer diagnoses and joint problems in one breed -- Golden Retrievers -- by neuter status: early (before 12 months old), late (12 months or older), and intact. Consistent with previous studies on the topic, the results showed increased likelihood of hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and canine cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture in neutered dogs.
Phase two of Dr. Hart’s research will include: Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Dachshunds. Rottweilers, Chihuahuas, Standard Poodles and Miniature Poodles will be included if resources and patient data are available. The expectation is that by the inclusion of multiple breeds in phase two, Dr. Hart will be able to develop a generalized understanding of the impact of early spay and neuter on disease risk in dogs. This in turn will enable veterinarians and breeders to make data-driven recommendations regarding timing of spay/neuter procedures to reduce the risk of development of multiple devastating diseases.
“Dr. Hart’s landmark study was the first to provide evidence for when to spay or neuter dogs,” said Dr. Shila Nordone, Chief Scientific Officer for the AKC Canine Health Foundation. “We are pleased to help fund Dr. Hart’s work and we hope that the additional findings through phase two will assist the veterinary community as they assess recommendations on when to spay or neuter and how the timing of these procedures may impact the health of dogs.”
According to Nordone, “We believe that the impact of Dr. Hart’s research will be immediate and broad. CCL, for example, is a disease that is painful, debilitating, and costs dog owners $1 billion annually to treat. The AKC Canine Health Foundation is committed to funding research, like Dr. Hart’s study, that can lead to evidence-based health recommendations. Armed with prudent guidelines for when to spay and neuter dogs we will have a significant impact on the quality of life for dogs.”
In continuation of our “Old Dogs Rule” educational series, this podcast features Dr. Ashley Saunders, Associate Professor of Cardiology and a Fellow of the Michael E. DeBakey Institute at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. Dr. Saunders completed her DVM in 2001 and residency in Cardiology in 2005, both at Texas A&M, and is board certified in veterinary cardiology. She is funded by CHF to identify novel biological markers of mitral valve disease to enhance diagnosis and prognosis of disease. In this podcast she discusses one of the most common age-related problems in dogs, cardiovascular disease.
This podcast was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, A KeyBank Trust.