Zeutering: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

The “If-I-Had-Millions-of-Dollars” game is one that I frequently play with my friends (ok, fine, and with myself when I’m bored.)  There are a lot of things I would want to do with it, not shockingly I’m sure, all related to animal rescue and advocacy.  My favorite idea of all is to create a trust fund for the inventor of a 100% oral sterilization pill.  I won’t bore you with all the of the detailed ideas I have surrounding this miracle pill, but the reason I’m sharing it with you is I have recently learned of something similar that actually exists: Zeuterin!

Imagine my shock when I read the line “New Non-Surgical Neutering Option”.  Was this the miracle pill that I have quite literally dreamed of for years?  Well, not exactly, but in my opinion it is a step in the right direction.

Gracie came from a terrible background but now she lives every dog's dream.

What is Zeuterin?

Zeuterin is a solution, with zinc gluconate as the active ingredient, that is injected into the testicles of male dogs rendering them chemically, and permanently, sterilized.  The zinc gluconate immediately goes to work killing the sperm and within 30 days the dog is permanently altered.  Guys, I know you’re squirming over the thought of an injection straight to the testicles.  According to the manufacturer 97.5% the dogs studied “showed no outward evidence of pain during the procedure”.  Additionally they report that only 1.1% of dogs exhibited pain or an injection site reaction.  Currently it is only approved for dogs age 3-10 months but it is expected that the FDA will soon expand that to include all dogs over the age of 3 months in 2013.  The testicles remain intact (though they do report on occasion minimal “shrinkage”) and the dog is tattooed with a small “Z” to make it possible to visually identify if I dog has been altered or not.  Zeuterin only reduces testosterone production by around 50%.  And last, the average cost is only $5-$25 to sterilize a dog using Zeuterin!

Sweet Gracie is loving life in a home.

The Pro’s:

Zeuterin is cheap and easy.  Seriously, in my opinion those two things are of the utmost importance in tackling the pet overpopulation issue.  By offering Zeuterin as an option, veterinarians will be able to effectively sterilize dogs whose owners may not have previously been able to afford the procedure.  The speed and ease of administration also make it much more viable for shelters and animal control facilities that previously might not have been able to alter dogs before releasing them back out in to the public.  Also, because at most Zeuterin only minimally shrinks the size of the testicles, owners who could not get past the idea of “taking their dog’s balls” now don’t have that excuse.  The dog retains about 50% of his testosterone which has been proven to help reduce the risk of some forms of cancer.

You gotta love a pit bull's smile.

The Con’s:

The dog still retains 50% of his testosterone.  But wait, I just listed that as a “pro”?  Testosterone can lead to “unwanted” behaviors in males such as roaming (although in a perfect world all owners would not allow this to happen!), humping, and even aggression.  Also, the dog still appears to be intact.  I may be the only one that sees it this way, but to me, a clearly altered male sends a positive message: I am a responsible pet owner and care about the welfare of other animals and therefore actively choose not to be part of the problem.  Because a Zeutered dog still appears intact, you are potentially sending a message to strangers that your dog isn’t altered (yes, I know that it is, but a complete stranger can no longer know that at a glance) and possibly even encouraging others not to alter their dog.  Because Zeuterin has only been tested for two years there is also the unknown of true long-term effects.  Personally I am not a fan of chemicals in any shape and form, and it would make me uncomfortable to inject my dog with them.  Lastly, and this one is for you, men, I don’t like that the dog is awake for the procedure.  I acknowledge that they have studied this, but come on, those studies are by the people producing the drug…who want to profit from it after all.  Maybe it really is next to painless, but it still makes me cringe a little.

Gracie with her new mom.

The Verdict:

Personally, I think the pros outweigh the cons.  Do I think it is perfect?  No.  Do I love the fact that veterinarians and scientists are actively working on solutions to the pet overpopulation problem?  YES!  My hope would be that this drug becomes readily available to (trained!) shelter workers who could Zeuter all males dogs before their release back in to the public.  I would also hope that the manufacturers would continue working to perfect the drug and it could one day address some of concerns that exist in it’s current state.  Ultimately, I can’t ever see myself being against something that is working to solve the pet overpopulation issues, even if it isn’t perfect just yet.  What is your opinion?  I’d love to hear from some every day dog lovers like me!  Zeuterin: good, bad, or ugly?

Articles I took facts from (though I did read many more opinion pieces):

http://www.embracepetinsurance.com/hot-topics/zeutering-vs-neutering

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/a-new-nonsurgical-way-to-neuter-male-dogs

http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/new-nonsurgical-neutering-option-makes-sterilization-simple

P.S. – doesn’t Gracie just look so happy with her family?  I just love it.  Makes my heart happy!

6 thoughts on “Zeutering: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

  1. Interesting drug. I wouldn’t want it used on my dog because there’s no long term study on side effects. Plus being awake when having a needle stuck there is a bit off putting. And I agree since it has minimal shrinkage it could send the wrong message and there could be issues with the hormones. I would wait on it. Great idea though.

  2. Wow. I LOVE the idea of this. I’ve read about rescue groups who do mobile spay and neutering — taking a van through neighborhoods and fixing dogs on the spot for people who can’t otherwise afford it. Something like this would make that job so much easier. I hope they get some truly hearty scientific studies going soon.

    I know that neutering has always been said to make male dogs behave less aggressively. I wonder if this has the same effect?

    • The aggression is linked to testosterone levels which are only reduced by about 50%, so it stands to reason that it should reduce aggressive behaviors by about 50% also. But some dogs can be neutered and still display aggressive behaviors and some can go unaltered their entire lives and never display any aggression. Personally I think management of the dog is the best way to prevent aggression BUT I would love if one day zeuterin were reformulated to eliminate 100% of testosterone because better safe than sorry!

  3. Interesting. I think for animal rescue in general this is a great thing – something cheap and easy to help with overpopulation is definitely a step in the right direction. For us, we were SO happy when Ed’s testosterone levels went down after his neuter, I’m not sure 50% would have been enough (he is STILL such a boy!). And from the perspective of vanity – balls are gross, so I’m glad those were removed. But, I actually didn’t know that having some levels of testosterone is good for pooches, so on that side I see the positive!!

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