Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spayed or neutered dogs live longer

Date:
April 17, 2013
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
Many dog owners have their pets spayed or neutered to help control the pet population, but new research suggests the procedure could add to the length of their lives and alter the risk of specific causes of death.

Boy and his dog. Many dog owners have their pets spayed or neutered to help control the pet population, but new research from the University of Georgia suggests the procedure could add to the length of their lives and alter the risk of specific causes of death.
Credit: Dmitriy Kapitonenko / Fotolia

Many dog owners have their pets spayed or neutered to help control the pet population, but new research from the University of Georgia suggests the procedure could add to the length of their lives and alter the risk of specific causes of death.

Related Articles


Looking at a sample of 40,139 death records from the Veterinary Medical Database from 1984-2004, researchers determined the average age at death for intact dogs -- dogs that had not been spayed or neutered -- was 7.9 years versus 9.4 years for sterilized dogs. The results of the study were published April 17 in PLOS ONE.

"There is a long tradition of research into the cost of reproduction, and what has been shown across species is if you reproduce, you don't live as long," said Dr. Kate Creevy, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine. "The question that raises is why would you die younger if you have offspring?"

Historically, studies on the effects of reproduction on life span have been done in model systems like mice, nematode worms and fruit flies, where it is difficult to figure out eventual cause of death. For the first time, researchers have been able to measure costs of reproduction in terms of the actual causes of death, finding that the causes of death differed between sterilized and intact dogs. Dogs who had undergone a gonadectomy (a spay or castration) were more likely to die from cancer or autoimmune diseases. Those in the sample who still had functional reproduction systems at death were more likely to die from infectious disease and trauma.

"Intact dogs are still dying from cancer; it is just a more common cause of death for those that are sterilized," said Jessica Hoffman, a UGA doctoral candidate in the Franklin College of Arts of Sciences who co-authored the study.

Creevy added, "At the level of the individual dog owner, our study tells pet owners that, overall, sterilized dogs will live longer, which is good to know. Also, if you are going to sterilize your dog, you should be aware of possible risks of immune-mediated diseases and cancer; and if you are going to keep him or her intact, you need to keep your eye out for trauma and infection."

Their findings are valuable not only for learning about dogs, she said, but also for studying reproductive effects in humans as well.

"There is no other species where we can even begin to study cause of death as closely as we do with dogs," Creevy said. "They model our own disease risk because they live in our homes, sleep in our beds and eat our food. All of the things that impact us and our health impact them."

Some of the reproductive hormones, particularly progesterone and testosterone, she said, could suppress the immune system, explaining why there is an increased risk of infection among dogs that have been sterilized.

"There are a few studies of people who are sterilized, specifically among men who are castrated for cultural or medical reasons," Creevy said. "Interestingly, there was a difference in their life spans too, and the castrated men tended to live longer. The men in that study who were not sterilized also got more infections, supporting the idea that there is a physiological reason for this."

According to Daniel Promislow, a genetics professor in the Franklin College and co-author of the paper, "when researchers have looked at the effect of reproduction on survival rates in humans, the results have varied from one study to the next. Our findings suggest that we might get a clearer sense of potential costs of reproduction if we focus on how reproduction affects actual causes of mortality rather than its effect on life span."

The authors note that the average life span seen in this study is likely lower than what would be observed in the population of dogs at large. Those observed for the study had been referred to a veterinary teaching hospital and represent a population of sick animals.

"The overall average life span is likely shorter than what we would observe in private practice, because these were dogs seen at teaching hospitals, but the difference in life span between sterilized and intact is real," Creevy said. "The proportionate effects on causes of death are translatable to the global dog population, and it will be interesting to see if explanations for these effects can be found in future studies."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jessica M. Hoffman, Kate E. Creevy, Daniel E. L. Promislow. Reproductive Capability Is Associated with Lifespan and Cause of Death in Companion Dogs. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e61082 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061082

Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Spayed or neutered dogs live longer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417185904.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2013, April 17). Spayed or neutered dogs live longer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417185904.htm
University of Georgia. "Spayed or neutered dogs live longer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417185904.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins