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UGA research finds sterilized dogs live longer
Date:4/17/2013

Athens, Ga. 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.

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 dogsdogs that had not been spayed or neuteredwas 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,
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Contact: Kate E. Creevy
creevy@uga.edu
706-542-4622
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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