Traditional methods of spaying and neutering dogs and cats have been helpful in reducing the number of companion animals in our nation's shelters. But imagine how much time, money, and taxpayer dollars could be saved if there could be a pill or injection that could be administered to prevent unplanned pregnancies!
There are some promising products on the horizon that could at least be a tool in the arsenal to alleviate shelter crowding and reduce euthanasia of perfectly healthy, adoptable animals. And nonsurgical options make a lot of sense to humanely and fiscally treat animal populations.
Zeutering is now available!
The drug that has recently become available is called Zeuterin (Esterilsol outside the U.S.) by Ark Sciences. In fact, this is the first permanent sterilization product approved by the FDA. Ark Sciences has already had a small launch, and anticipates a more widespread launch of the product later this year. It is a chemical injection that sterilizes male dogs. The testicles remain (though will become smaller) so a tattoo is required to mark the dog as treated.
An Accidental Infertility
Biologist Dr. Loretta Mayer was attempting to develop a way to artificially induce menopause in mice to study human disease but accidentally discovered a new drug that could chemically render females infertile. Her first drug was called ContraPest which she tested on rat populations in Indonesia. She then developed a version for female dogs called Chemspay which could be given either orally or by injection that significantly reduced the number of eggs in dogs, which made them sterile. FDA approval is probably 6-9 years out.
Tricking Eggs to Battle Sperm
Another exciting avenue for sterilizations is through immunocontraception, which is basically injecting antibodies that react with the egg's surface membrane which interferes with sperm penetration. Tests have been very promising in white-tailed deer and horse populations. Currently, booster shots are required to maintain sterility, but one-dose permanent solutions are also being developed.
All of these methods will require careful monitoring of animal health and any side effects, but they offer intriguing options for financially strapped humane organizations that could free up funds, space, and manpower to put towards education.
For more information, visit the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs.
Photo by OtterBox.