Parsemus Foundation Executive Director Linda Brent, Ph.D. was recently interviewed by veterinarian Peter Dobias, DVM about the foundation’s research on hormone restoration in dogs. Dr. Dobias’ blog post and video featuring that interview is now available.
Why natural hormones are important to dogs
Canine hormone restoration is a new treatment. It involves the replenishment and balancing of natural hormone levels in dogs after they’ve been spayed or neutered. If this concept is new to you, the basic idea is that when a dog undergoes sterilization via spay or neuter surgery, the ovaries and testes are removed. Without these organs, sex hormones are no longer produced, and the endocrine system becomes unbalanced.
Hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and luteinizing hormone have diverse functions in the body beyond their impact on reproduction. Therefore, dogs that have been spayed or neutered may be at a higher risk for a variety of health problems including joint disorders and cancers. Not all dogs will experience such serious disorders; the impacts of hormone loss depend on the age, size, breed, and sex of the individual. Research in this area is ongoing, but evidence has been found for longer lifespans and better health in dogs that had longer exposure to natural hormones. See more information on how hormones affect canine health.
Hormone-sparing sterilization and hormone restoration options
If you’re considering sterilizing your pet, it’s a good time to review your options. In addition to traditional spay and neuter, you can choose hormone-sparing sterilization methods that don’t cause the loss of natural hormones. Hysterectomy (also called ovary-sparing spay) for females and vasectomy for males are options that are gaining acceptance among veterinarians and responsible pet owners. See our webpage for all the details.
We recommend reviewing the risks and benefits of different sterilization options with a knowledgeable veterinarian. This will help you determine the best option for you and your dog. Our Veterinary Directory can help you find veterinarians who offer these procedures.
What if your dog has already been spayed or neutered? Can you do anything to improve health problems that have not been addressed by standard medical treatment? This is where hormone restoration may be considered. This practice involves rebalancing hormone levels by supplying hormones that are too low or modifying hormones that are too high. Canine hormone restoration is a very new area of research. In fact, our 2021 publication is the first case study of hormone restoration in a castrated male dog to treat diverse symptoms. The dog’s name is Toby, and he is Dr. Brent’s furry friend. In the podcast with Dr. Dobias, Linda reviews the details of Toby’s condition, and his status after 4+ years on hormone therapy. Spoiler alert: The treatment was life-changing, and Toby continues to do very well!
Dr. Dobias Healing Solutions
Dr. Peter Dobias is a veterinarian specializing in integrative medicine to help people prevent and treat canine disease naturally. He offers educational material on diet and health, as well as supplements, at Dr. Dobias Healthy Solutions. In his conversation with Linda, Dr. Dobias discussed his concerns about spaying and neutering, especially in young dogs.
“It made no sense to me that young animals who needed hormones for their overall health and muscular, skeletal and brain development were being sterilized,” Dr. Dobias said. “But I also started to see that even when we spay and neuter dogs later in life, they start losing muscle mass, their tendons and ligaments are more injury-prone, and there are significant changes in their behavior — such as increased fearfulness, anxiety, and sometimes aggression.”
Like Linda, Dr. Dobias has a very personal interest in the importance of natural hormones for lifelong health. His own dog, Pax, was required to be neutered as part of the certification as a service dog. But then he experienced negative health conditions. Perhaps hormone restoration would be helpful. The blog post and podcast offer engaging discussions of these topics.
The Parsemus Foundation’s continuing research on canine hormone restoration
Most veterinarians haven’t heard about hormone restoration, and few of them currently provide this treatment option. This is likely because there’s very little research to date on replacing and balancing hormone levels in dogs. The treatment of urinary incontinence in spayed female dogs is the only area with sufficient research. What veterinarians need is basic information on the safety and dosing of hormones for dogs. The Parsemus Foundation recently initiated such a study to add to our knowledge of testosterone replacement therapy. Once this study is completed, it will provide the needed information to guide veterinary oversight of canine hormone restoration.