Objectives: To investigate association between neutering and early-onset urinary incontinence in bitches under primary veterinary care in the UK.
Materials and methods: A retrospective cohort study of bitches within VetCompass born between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012 that were followed until March 31, 2018. The clinical records were automatically searched and manually validated for incontinence cases. Incidence risk and rate over the study period were calculated. Cox regression modelling separately evaluated the hazard of urinary incontinence and association with neutering: (1) from the date of birth for all bitches, both neutered and entire; and, (2) from the date of neutering for the neutered subset. Other variables considered included breed, bodyweight and veterinary practice group.
Results: Overall, 492 bitches were identified with early-onset urinary incontinence from a total of 72,971 included in the study period. Incidence risk was 0.68% (95% confidence intervals 0.62 to 0.74), while incidence rate increased with age. After accounting for confounding factors, increased hazard of early-onset urinary incontinence was identified in: (1) neutered bitches, with the effect increasing with age; and, (2) bitches neutered before 6 months, within the first 2 years following neutering. In both models, increased hazard was additionally associated with increasing bodyweight and breed.
Clinical significance: Neutering itself and early-age neutering (<6 months) are major risk factors for early-onset urinary incontinence. These results should be taken into account in making evidence-based recommendations on neutering and its timing.
© 2019 The Authors Journal of Small Animal Practice published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Small Animal Veterinary Association.