Chemical castration of dogs.
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Age: Less than 3 mon
What would be the benefits of Zinc neutering using Zinc Gluconate offered by Ark Sciences? Is it worth waiting for a few months to avoid surgical castration?
Dr. Marie replied:
The product that you're talking about is one formerly called Neutersol and now called Esterisol. The idea of Esterisol is that it is a chemical that is injected into the testicles in order to produce castration. There are pros and cons to this as compared to surgical castration:
- A full anesthetic is not needed. (Most times deep sedation is given).
- It may be less expensive than surgery (provided that there are no complications).
- The injection can be painful. (However, if proper sedation is given this is reduced. Some vets have reported that dogs actually tolerate the injections well.
- There is a higher risk of complications as compared to surgical castration. Some dogs will get extreme swelling of the testicles or scrotal ulcers afterwards and many of these dogs require surgery in order to remove the entire scrotum. I read of several cases of shelter vets who had used this method of castration and ended up euthanizing dogs who had severe reactions.
- It takes a few months to weeks for the testicles to completely shrink.
- Dogs who have had neutersol injection do not have as low testosterone levels as surgically neutered dogs. Because of this we don't know if chemical castration will have the same benefits in reducing prostate problems and other testosterone related issues later on in life.
- One study showed that many dogs who had chemical castration were later on neutered surgically because they had too many "male" behaviors such as mounting and peeing on things.
In doing some research for you I found out that Neutersol was taken off the market a few years ago. In 2009 the product came back on the market again under the name EsterioSol.
In my opinion there may be some benefit for vets to use this method of castration in situations where surgery is just not possible. For example, in third world countries or in remote places overrun with stray dogs. In these situations the benefit of being able to castrate hundreds of dogs in a short period of time probably outweighs the risk of the side effects.
However, I would not recommend it for any of my patients.
I was recently contacted by Ark Sciences about my answer to this question. They directed me to this FAQ
on the use of Zinc Gluconate for nonsurgical castration. I'm linking to it here so that readers of my website can read their information as well.
I applaud Ark Sciences for continuing to develop and approve a product that will be quite helpful in a number of situations. At this point, I don't feel comfortable recommending the product to my clients, but I can see places where it could be helpful (such as high volume shelters and remote communities).
The FAQ discusses a number of things that can be done to reduce the risk of a reaction. They state this, "As new organizations embark on the use of Zinc Gluconate neutralized with Arginine, they should expect to treat 1-2 dogs with topical ointment for every 100 dogs sterilized and handle one scrotal ulceration needing scrotal ablation and possible castration." In my opinion, 1 scrotal ablation for every 100 dogs is too much, and as such I won't be recommending this product to my clients at this time.
I will be keeping an eye on the product though. ---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---
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