Emails to Clients About Spaying
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An Important Email to a Client Concerning Spaying – This is an answer to an Email asking me about the benefits/drawbacks of spaying a 6 year-old Boxer. I took this opportunity to include many important points about the potentially devastating effects of removing the gonads, especially in the wrong individual.
An Important Email to a Doctor Concerning Spaying – This is an answer to an Email from a doctor who was asking me about the “partial spay” (hysterectomy alone).
An Important Email to a Client Concerning Spaying
Congratulations on your Webpage. I live in a different country and my oral language management might not be very practical on the telephone, yet if necessary, I will try this means of communicating with you.
I have only one question: Early sterilization (ideally before the first heat of a female dog is recommended, since it would prevent the dog from developing breast cancer and other ailments)
My dog is already six years old and so far, very healthy and happy. Is it still worth it to risk the operation at her age.
Your opinion is very important to me and I thank you in advance for your kind attention.
It was great to hear from you. Yours is a very good question with some surprising answers.
Yes, it is commonly recommended that dogs be spayed early to prevent mammary cancer but it is one of the worst things we can do to the overall health of that dog. Can you imagine removing the ovaries of a 5 year old human child? Why would we ever do such a thing? The answer: Because we have not thought things through, which is quite common in medicine.
Firstly, the ovaries (and testicles) are important and do much more than their role in reproduction. Both sets of gonads are crucial in the production of important hormones, with the main one for the purposes of this discussion being progesterone. Progesterone is a powerful anti-inflammatory substance- one of the most important that out body produces. So, should we be surprised to find that dogs that have been spayed (especially early) have a higher rate of allergies, “autoimmune” diseases (e.g. lupus), and even cancer? Why the cancer? Because cancer usually arises in areas of chronic inflammation and the more inflammation there is, the higher the cancer rate. It is that simple. For instance, recent studies have confirmed that dogs that were spayed early have the highest rates of bone cancer (the Rottweiler studies).
Now that my eyes are open, I have seen numerous cases in which the health of the dog took a dramatic down-turn shortly after being spayed- allergies, immune-mediated disease (e.g. hemolytic anemia, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis), etc. Should we really be surprised? The exact same thing happens in women every day. Most women know about the potential health crisis that accompanies menopause (which we should be able to prevent, by the way).
Spaying is “surgical menopause”. Why wouldn’t dogs suddenly suffer from all of the things that women do following the drop in their crucial hormones?
The problem is that we have focused on the estrogen. Don’t get me wrong. Estrogen is an important thing to understand but the true hero in our body is progesterone. Estrogen is inflammatory, neurostimulating, and immune suppressive. Progesterone is anti-inflammatory and calming. That is why your body is only allowed to produce an estrogen spike once a month (twice a year in the dog), causing tenderness, swelling and bleeding. Progesterone then comes in and calms everything back down. During pregnancy, lots of progesterone is produced (by the ovaries and placenta) and the woman and child are pretty much bullet-proof when it comes to inflammation. I get reports of women who can tolerate foods (e.g. dairy and wheat) and other immune challenges when they are pregnant but who are totally intolerant of those things when not pregnant. I write about this in the Appetizers section of my site…VERY important that we understand exactly why this is AND the harm that these women are doing to themselves when they eat these things during pregnancy (“cravings”).
Back to the breast cancer: The main culprit in breast cancer is estrogen. We know this. Excessive estrogens cause inflammation in the breasts (as well as the ovaries and uterus) and set the stage for the viruses that cause breast cancer. Yes, viruses cause breast cancer and if your Google that, you will see some amazing things that researchers already know. So, do your ovaries produce enough estrogen to cause breast cancer??? I think not. Our body does not make that kind of mistake (contrary to what many doctors and the public commonly think). No, the excessive estrogens come from the diet and environmental sources, with the main food sources being dairy products, soy, and the gluten grains. My site has a more detailed list. The environment is loaded with estrogens (plastics, synthetics, pesticides/flea products, etc.) and the key word for all women (and men) to become intimately familiar with is “xenoestrogen”. This is the term for harmful environmental estrogens. We must all check this out. No one wants to talk much about the 7,000+ men a year who succumb to breast cancer.
So, do we take out the ovaries to prevent breast cancer or do we remove the estrogens from the dogs diet and environment? I think you know the answer to that. In effect, we are taking out the natural source of estrogen (which actually help to protect the female from the unnatural sources) so that we can expose them to unnatural sources (e.g. PESTICIDES and diet) and not have to worry about mammary cancer, which is only one form of cancer. In doing so, we make the dog at MUCH higher risk to developing just about every other medical condition known to mankind. Where is the logic in that? I finally came up with an analogy: Spaying dogs to prevent mammary cancer is like taking their legs off to prevent them from being hit by a car. This would be effective but a horribly wrong approach to the problem. There are much better ways to prevent both.
Besides, the ovaries are part of the body and we are put together perfectly. There are no spare parts. We have simply become confused by how well we can do with certain parts removed (e.g. ovaries, gall bladder, appendix). But, we are much better off intact. There is no question about that. (The gall bladder and appendix are much more important than most understand.)
In today’s polluted environments, there are many challenges, some of which we can control and others of which we cannot…unless we move. Thankfully, there are “antidotes” available in the way of “nutraceuticals”- supplements and foods that can be used to combat these enemies. It is important that we understand the difference between lignans and isoflavones, the two basic forms of phytoestrogens. Lignans (e.g. those found in flax) are weak estrogens that attach to estrogen receptors without stimulating them, thereby blocking the attachment of other estrogens that would stimulate those receptors. That is what isoflavones do: They stimulate estrogen receptors and produce an estrogenic effect (e.g. soy protein). The beneficial parts of soy (lignans) actually come from the green plant portion (the cotyledon) not the soy protein. The other important group of nutraceuticals are antioxidants, which are the antidote to the free radicals in pollutants.
If I was going to do one thing that might prevent problems down the road in the female dog it would be a hysterectomy alone, leaving the ovaries in place. I am doing more and more of these in young dogs as an alternative to spaying. I simply explain this situation to clients and let them choose. 4 out of 6 of my last hysterectomies were done in dogs that belonged to MDs. They (should) understand this issue, as hysterectomy alone was the common procedure in women for years and years…until ovarian cancer skyrocketed in women (also an estrogen-related disorder and viral cancer) due to overwhelming exposures to xenoestrogens in the diet and environment along with carcinogens and the basically horrible American diet. Their solution? “Take out the ovaries while we’re in there dealing with the endometriosis and fibroids”, which sadly results in acute surgical menopause in these women and a rapid decline in their health (fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, strokes/heart attacks and the like). This should all make sense to you and anyone else who reads this Email (I hope you will be forwarding it. J)
Sadly, your Boxer is one of the moist immune-challenged breeds on the planet. They are the glaring example of the concept of DNA that has been horribly infiltrated with viruses that have major potential for disease production, including cancer. Yes, about 40% of the DNA in humans is viral information, which is THE explanation for “genetic disease”. “Boxers are walking tumors” we were told in vet school. Why? Because their DNA is loaded with cancer-causing viruses. The cool thing to see is that these viruses never have to be expressed. These viruses simply react to the things we challenge them with called carcinogens. Carcinogens don’t “cause” cancer, viruses do. Carcinogens cause viruses to cause cancer. That’s the proper perspective. And many of these viruses (including breast cancer viruses in people and dogs) are embedded in the very DNA, being passed down through the generations. I have heard of numerous examples of this over the years in client families and we see certain breeds of dogs experience the same thing. This is no longer a mystery.
How do we prevent these estrogen-related disorders (breast cancer, endometriosis/pyometra, polycystic ovaries, and ovarian cancer)? Eliminate the “xenoestrogens” and as many other carcinogens as possible (e.g. pesticides, including most flea products with the exception of Revolution) while eating properly, exercising and getting proper sunlight (which produces the all important vitamin D3). If we can’t do this, then we must take/use appropriate supplements (D3, C, B complex, omega threes, antioxidants, glucosamine, etc.). Remember: The “solution to pollution”- other than avoidance- is the antioxidant. In the dog (just like in the human), the avoidance of the “big 4”- gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn- is crucial. That’s what the site is basically all about. These food proteins (lectins) are doing catastrophic amounts of harm to countless individuals, both two and four-legged. Once we fully grasp the concept of food intolerance and couple this with our knowledge of estrogens/xenoestrogens, free radicals (e.g. pollution), carcinogens, and the critical role that viruses and bacteria play in our body, we should be able to turn this health crisis in people and their pets around.
I hope this helps,
John B. Symes, D.V.M. (aka “Dogtor J“)
An Important Email to a Doctor Concerning Spaying
Dr. M writes…
Subject: partial spay
Hi there Dogtorj,
I have a 6 month old cocker spaniel and am considering the benefits of partial spay (only hysterectomy – as opposed to ovariohysterectomy) so as to preserve hormone function for health. She is on a raw-meaty bone diet.
Do you have an opinion about this or know anyone who performs it? See attached article.
Hi Dr. M.,
It’s great to hear from you. Perfect timing.
What a GREAT question! I am a big fan and major proponent of partial spaying (hysterectomy alone). I now give all of my clients the option. Not surprisingly, of the last 4 or 5 I’ve done, most have belonged to MDs. When I explain things to them, they go “Well, that makes perfect sense!” One was even shocked to hear what a conventional spay actually was. “You mean you take out the ovaries, too?”
This is one of those things that is horribly upside-down. And we now know the negative health consequences of spaying, especially before full maturity (about 14 months on average for dogs). But there is really no good time to take out the ovaries (or testicles), is there? It is “surgical menopause” and I have done more than my share of studying women’s health and the vital role of hormones, as well as the devastating effects of menopause in today’s estrogen dominated women. The same things…if not worse in many case…are happening in our pets.
The procedure itself is rather simple and just like a regular spay except that you place your clamps on the uterine side of the ovaries rather than on the ovarian pedicle (vessels arising from the region of the kidney) side, leaving the ovaries in place. It takes the exact same amount of time and the approach and closure is identical. In the case of males, I am also doing more vasectomies, which is a little more involved than the typical orchiectomy/castration but still a rather uncomplicated procedure.
You will probably have to look far and wide for someone who will do this…or even look at you without laughing or breaking into a lecture about the health benefits of removing the ovaries, breast cancer prevention being the biggee. But I now tell people that removing the ovaries to prevent breast cancer in the dog is like removing their legs so that they won’t wander in to the street and get hit by a car. There are better ways. The legs are kind of nice to have around. J
For those who opt for the hysterectomy alone, the things I insist upon are: The pet be fed a low-estrogen diet* (which the GARD is naturally) and the pet NOT be exposed to insecticides, all of which are carcinogens and also have estrogenic activity. Pfizer’s Revolution is the only exception and the only flea product that I recommend, especially to those pets that still have their ovaries. It is also advisable to get a good water filter- one that removes fluoride and chemical residues. I have read some scary things about the estrogens in our water, including bottled water. The filter in my new Recommended Products section is great. (*When feeding commercial diets, use rice or potato-base foods that avoid wheat, dairy, soy or corn. They are listed here: http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id39.html
Here is an article from the early 1970’s written by a man who was waaay ahead of his time- Dr. Wendell Belfield. He also knew the truth about vitamin C in dogs. http://www.belfield.com/pdfs/Partial_Spay.pdf
It was great to hear from you. You are definitely on the right track.
I hope this helps,
John B. Symes, D.V.M. (aka “Dogtor J“)