Dog overpopulation is a real problem. To do your part, getting your dog fixed the only thing to do, right? While that may be the case now, in the near future, Americans may have a lot more options to stop their pet’s procreative powers. As you read this, scientists are working on multiple alternatives to neutering that are less expensive and less invasive than traditional surgeries.
Some of these new products are already being used in countries around the world. Others were available for a time, but currently aren't because of business troubles. A few on the list show promise, but aren't yet safe enough to use on your pooch. Below are some products that may be offered to you in the near future.
While humans are able to take birth control pills fairly easily, it's much harder for dogs to absorb the hormones orally. Because of this, a small implant that releases delayed hormones works much better. These implants are placed near the dog's belly button, and provide enough hormones to stop your dog from going into heat. The device also lowers testosterone, rendering male dogs infertile too. The implants can be left in for up to a year and a half, so the maintenance costs stay low for the owner.
Another way to sterilize your pupper is to bring him in for regular injections. With this method, the vet puts a syringe full of chemicals right under the dog's skin. These chemicals affect the ovaries or testicles and render them incapacitated. Some of these injections are actually permanent and only require one dose! Others need multiple administrations to work properly.
It's possible to to make a dog infertile simply by creating antibodies. Vaccines are being developed right now that stop sperm from attaching to a female. It's important to note that no body function is lost with this vaccine, so your girl dog would still go through heat cycles if she received it. And because it works on proteins in the uterus, it's no help to boy dogs! So far it's only about 75% effective, so more work definitely needs to be done before it can be released.
The reason that many of these choices aren't available for purchase yet is because there are still too many complications from their use. Many dogs who've received them have developed nasty reactions at the injection site including ulcers and growths. So if waiting means they can reduce those side effects, it's not a bad trade off!
That being said, these methods of contraception are really exciting. Shelters would be able to finally tackle overpopulation without breaking the bank. Strays could easily be injected and rehomed without a stressful operation and the use of anesthesia.
So one day, fixing your pet may be as simple as taking them for a shot! But until that time, it's still best to stick with a spay or castration surgery. It's 100% effective and the procedure is so common that most vets are pretty great at it. The risk is relatively small and you're guaranteed a pet without pups for life!