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Neuter status as a risk factor for Dachshund intervertebral disc herniation

Intervertebral disc herniation (IVDH) is a serious spinal disease which is very common in dachshunds. It frequently causes pain, disability and reduced quality of life and can result in euthanasia. Neutering (spaying of females and castration of males) is a well-accepted procedure in the UK.

This study is believed to be the first large-scale investigation of the association between neutering and IVDH in dachshunds. It used information from questionnaires completed by the owners of 1964 dachshunds. This included neuter status, age at neutering, history of IVDH and age at diagnosis.

The study set out to investigate whether risk of IVDH in dachshunds was associated either with having been neutered or with age of neutering.

Females neutered at any age had a significantly increased risk of IVDH than did unneutered females. Bitches neutered before 12 months old were the group at highest risk. These early-neutered bitches were around twice as likely to develop IVDH as were unneutered bitches. Males neutered before 12 months old had a significantly higher incidence of IVDH than unneutered males. However, there was no significant difference in IVDH risk between unneutered and late-neutered males.

This study provides useful information specific to dachshunds which veterinarians can use to help guide owners in making evidence-based decisions on whether and/or when to neuter their dog.

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