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News Article

Neutering bitches trebles the risk of urinary incontinence

Study finds spaying is a major risk factor associated with urinary incontinence, but age at spay appears to be of less clinical importance

Research carried out by the Royal Veterinary College’s VetCompass™ programme supports neutering as a major risk factor associated with urinary incontinence (UI). The study, published in Journal of Small Animal Practice, also indicates that females of certain breeds are more prone to UI than others. According to the findings, the breeds most at risk are the Hungarian Vizsla, Doberman, Weimaraner and Boxer.

Currently, UI affects around 3% of bitches in primary veterinary care in England. A connection between neutering and UI in bitches has long been suspected but this study provides stronger evidence on the extent of the relationship. The researchers say these results will aid owners and vets in making evidence-based decisions when it comes to neutering female dogs.

The study was conducted by analysing data from 333,910 bitches who presented at veterinary practices participating in the VetCompass™ programme between 2014 and 2017.

The data also showed that age and bodyweight are major contributory factors to bitches developing UI as well as neutering and breed. Other key findings include:

  • Bitches over nine years old are 1.7 times more likely to develop UI compared to those younger than three years.
  • Bitches weighing over 10 kg are 1.9 more likely to develop UI than those weighing less than 10 kg, while bitches over 30 kg are three times more likely.


Article: Pegram, C., O'Neill, D. G., Church, D. B., Hall, J., Owen, L., Brodbelt, D. C. (2019). Spaying and urinary incontinence in bitches under UK primary veterinary care: a case-control study. Journal of Small Animal Practice [online 20 April 2019]

Article details

  • Date
  • 02 May 2019
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals