Objective: To determine long-term results and complications of gonadectomy performed at an early age (prepubertal) or at the traditional age in dogs.
Design: Cohort study.
Animals: 269 dogs from animal shelters.
Procedure: Dogs that underwent gonadectomy were allotted to 2 groups on the basis of estimated age at surgery (traditional age, > or =24 weeks old; prepubertal, < 24 weeks old). Adoptive owner information was obtained from shelter records, and telephone interviews were conducted with owners to determine physical or behavioral problems observed in the dogs since adoption. Follow-up information was obtained from attending veterinarians for dogs with complex problems or when owners were uncertain regarding the exact nature of their dog's problem.
Results: Prepubertal gonadectomy did not result in an increased incidence of behavioral problems or problems associated with any body system, compared with traditional-age gonadectomy, during a median follow-up period of 48 months after gonadectomy. Rate of retention in the original adoptive household was the same for dogs that underwent prepubertal gonadectomy as those that underwent traditional-age gonadectomy. Infectious diseases, however, were more common in dogs that underwent prepubertal gonadectomy.
Conclusions and clinical implications: With the exception of infectious diseases, prepubertal gonadectomy may be safely performed in dogs without concern for increased incidence of physical or behavioral problems during at least a 4-year period after gonadectomy.