There is some exciting news on the battlefront against pet overpopulation. A medication is hitting the U.S. market that is used to neuter male dogs without the need for anesthesia or surgery.
Used for the past few years in Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, and Panama under the name Esterilsol™, Zeuterin™ (gotta love this name) is expected to be available in the United States within the year. Current FDA approval is for use in dogs between three and ten months of age although expansion of approval to all dogs over three months is anticipated soon.
The active ingredient in Zeuterin™ is zinc gluconate, which is the reason use of this product is referred to as “zinc neutering.” Within 30 days of administration, Zeuterin™ induces sterility. Only one treatment is needed and no significant hospital stay is required.
How it Works
Zeuterin™ is administered via injection directly into each testicle, without the need for anesthesia (mild sedation is frequently used). Now, before you cross your legs and mutter, “Yowza!” the manufacturer reports that 97.5% of dogs studied showed no outward evidence of pain during the procedure. Apparently, the combination of using a very small needle and slow injection of the product avoids triggering any sensation of discomfort. Post-procedure complications such as pain and injection site reactions occurred in only 1.1% of treated dogs.
Within 30 days of administration, Zeuterin™ induces sterility by causing permanent, irreversible scarring of the dog’s testicles. While the testicles eventually diminish in size, they do remain visible. Because of this, dogs neutered with Zeuterin™ are marked with a small tattoo in the groin area so that they can readily be identified as having been sterilized.
The Pros and Cons
For people who are in favor of sterilization, but cannot fathom the thought of their dog living without testicles, Zeuterin™ may be just the solution. On the other hand, if the primary goal of neutering is elimination of negative male behaviors such as roaming and aggression, surgery may still be the procedure of choice. Zeuterin™ does not completely eliminate testosterone production within the testicles. (Testosterone is a major driving force of negative male behaviors in some dogs.)
Zeuterin™ may be a real boon for animal shelters and spay/neuter clinics in the fight against pet overpopulation. Proponents believe chemical neutering is safer, simpler, less time consuming, and less expensive than traditional surgery. This means that more dogs can be neutered with available resources.
Are you curious to see how chemical castration is performed? If so, have a look at this video. Fear not, there is no pain or blood observed!
Is chemical castration likely to replace traditional surgical neutering in our population of pet dogs? I have no clear prediction, but I will certainly be interested to see how the answer to this question unfolds.
Would you consider chemical rather than surgical castration for your male dog?
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.