By Amy Caldwell
Published: 09/13/2017, edited: 10/21/2021
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Neutering your male dog is not very complicated. However, it can be quite uncomfortable and even painful. A male dog who has been neutered often has a longer and healthier life than a dog kept intact, so of course, you want this for your best buddy. If you could neuter your male dog in a way that is not invasive or surgical, providing a quicker and easier recovery, would you do it? Chemical neutering does just that. This kind of neutering is only for younger dogs, but it may be beneficial to explore with your veterinarian as a consideration.
What You Should Know
Chemical castration occurs with the injection of a chemical that stops sperm from developing within a dog's body. This compound renders the prostate, the organ responsible for producing fluid with which semen carries sperm, and the testes, which produces sperm and testosterone, nonfunctional. An injection of this chemical in each testicle by your veterinarian makes this a simple in-office procedure. Your dog will be lightly sedated to ease the discomfort of the injections. He may be sore and tender for a few days, but recovery is easier than with surgical neutering.
Pros and Cons of Chemical Neutering
With gentle anesthesia to relax your dog or only a sedative to make him sleepy, recovery is faster and easier for your dog. This is a quick procedure, started and completed in minutes at your veterinarian's office as opposed to hours of surgery and days of recovery. Some dog owners prefer their dog remains intact. This procedure allows for that.
On the flip side, this is a relatively new procedure, and there are no long-term studies to show efficacy, potential complications over the years such as tumor or cancer formation, or the effects of testosterone reduction over testosterone depletion as a surgical neuter provides. Some owners may like their dog to remain intact and might prefer a procedure such as chemical castration. However, by leaving the testes intact, testosterone levels are lowered but not eliminated. Male dogs who have been surgically neutered have shown longer life spans and fewer diseases.
A dog who has been chemically castrated needs to be properly identified, because a chemical neutering will keep the dog intact making it difficult to know the dog is sterile. Some veterinarians prefer a tattoo, however, these have posed issues with some dogs as well as owners in the past. At time of writing, due to FDA approval, chemical castration can only occur at the point during three and ten months of age. So, this kind of neutering is not beneficial for dogs that are over ten months of age.
There will be some recovery involved in a chemical castration. However, recovery is not usually as long or as painful as with surgical neutering. As a result of these chemical injections, side effects have been documented. Your dog will experience pain in his scrotum for three to five days after the injections. You may see swelling, redness, and irritation. Lethargy and diarrhea are known side effects that are usually temporary. Some dogs have shown a decrease in their white blood cell count after the chemical neutering injections. Moreover, some dogs have experienced anorexia. Chemical neutering is still a relatively new procedure, and studies are still underway.
Weigh Your Options
With dog owners and veterinarians experimenting with this kind of procedure as an alternative to a surgical procedure, chemical castration may become a more popular form of neutering a canine. Ultimately, it is up to dog owners to decide the best course of action for their furry companion. There are pros and cons to all procedures, from anesthesia side effects to keeping your dog intact and increasing their risk of cancers such as testicular cancer. Male dogs who are kept intact are sometimes more aggressive because of their increased testosterone levels. Ultimately, the decision to neuter your dog, and how to neuter your dog is yours. Educate yourself on all your options and talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your four-legged friend and the life you wish to have for him as he grows.
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