Possible Relationship between Long-Term Adverse Health Effects of Gonad-Removing Surgical Sterilization and Luteinizing Hormone in Dogs

Animals (Basel). 2020 Apr 1;10(4):599. doi: 10.3390/ani10040599.


Spaying and neutering dogs is commonly used to prevent the birth of unwanted animals and eliminate the risk of reproductive diseases. However, removal of the gonads prevents the feedback of estrogen and testosterone on the pituitary and hypothalamus. As a result, luteinizing hormone (LH) is continuously elevated at supraphysiologic concentrations. Although the main role of LH is for reproductive function (e.g., ovulation), there are LH receptors present in several normal tissues including the thyroid and adrenal glands, gastrointestinal tract, cranial cruciate ligament and round ligament, and lymphocytes. In addition, there are LH receptors present in several neoplastic tissues (e.g., lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, mastocytoma, transitional cell carcinoma, and osteosarcoma). The role of LH receptors in non-reproductive normal and neoplastic tissues is not known but may stimulate nitric oxide release and induce cell division. The precise etiology of the increased incidence of several non-reproductive long-term health complications following spaying and neutering is not known but may be related to LH receptor activation in these non-reproductive target tissues. How these effects may be mediated is described in this review.

Keywords: behavior; canine; luteinizing hormone; musculoskeletal; neoplasia; neuter; obesity; spay; urinary incontinence.

Publication types

  • Review