As most of you are already aware, Dr. Michael and I have serious reservations about the long term health ramifications of spaying and neutering dogs (in particular spaying and neutering before maturation is complete). This is, to a large degree, the impetus for this website. We will continue to post both peer-reviewed studies and anecdotal observations on our blog and on our facebook page dedicated to specific medical conditions that may or may not be related to spaying and neutering.
The one counter argument that consistently raises the ire of those opposed to our views is the issue of overpopulation. If we encourage people to have intact animals or to delay spaying and neutering, are we in fact contributing to the problems of overpopulation? I do not want anyone to believe that we are not sensitive to this matter. We have adopted literally thousands of rescues from our hospitals throughout the years.
Recently, I became open to the idea that there may be an option, at least for male dogs, that offers a solution to both problems. I have become certified to perform Zinc Neutering , or chemical sterilization. There is no surgery or stitches and no after-care. (Has anyone wanted to commit hari kari while their pet has worn an E-collar for ten days while there dog continuously tries to mutilate his surgery site?) It involves two simple injections of a zinc gluconate solution, one in each testicle, that can be done quickly under a light plane of anesthesia.
The procedure is greater than 99% effective at permanently sterilizing male dogs. Side effects are rare with the most common side effects being irritation or post-injection pain at the site within 3 to 5 days after the procedure. These side effects are easily managed with post-procedure pain meds. Most times these pain meds aren’t even required. Occasional wound dehiscence and absessation has also been reported.
The potential advantage of the procedure, in addition to no surgery, dramatically decreased pain and discomfort in comparison with traditional neutering, and minimal anesthesia, is that dogs retain about 50% of their testosterone levels after Zinc Neutering. As previously stated in this blog and throughout this website there are dramatic health risks associated with removing a dog’s sex hormones, particularly before maturation. It remains to be seen once this procedure becomes more mainstream and data becomes available how advantageous is it from a health prospective to retain some of the dog’s testosterone levels. Will dogs have a more normal and anatomically appropriate skeletal frame? Will growth plate closure not be delayed to the extent that it is in early s/n animals? Will behavioral problems associated with low testosterone like submissive urination and fear biting be addressed? Only time will tell.
Timing of the procedure will also be something that needs to be determined. Currently it is being used at shelters, often in puppies. My initial instinct would be to let dogs reach full maturation before doing the procedure. This approach is potentially problematic in that the procedure is not guaranteed to be successful if testiclar size exceeds 30 mm in diameter. Again, time will tell….