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Would You Use Reversible Birth Control on Your Dog?

| Published on November 13, 2014

We have seen a lot of different things come up over the last few years when it comes to our dogs and their reproductive organs. Everything from Neuticles, for male dogs that have been neutered but whose owners still want them to appear “intact,” to Zeuterin, a controversial, permanent sterilization injection.

Some breed, including collies and shelties, have a gene that reacts badly to anethesia making a routine spay or neutering a risk. Image source: @tomitapioK via Flickr
Some breed, including collies and shelties, have a gene that reacts badly to anethesia making a routine spay or neutering a risk. Image source: @tomitapioK via Flickr

The need for something like Zeuterin is real – some dogs are not candidates for anesthesia without huge risks – including death – due to genetic or other health reasons. Traditionally, the only option for owners with these types of dogs was to leave with intact. This results in “opps” litters who usually end up in shelters (or worse).

But what if you have a dog you think you may want to breed someday – a show dog for example – but you worry about an accidental breeding? There has never been a way to reverse altering a dog.

Until Now.

Europe, New Zealand, and Australia have already been using this new reversible contraceptive that is believed for work on both male and female dogs.

Suprelorin’s® active ingredient is deslorelin, a hormone suppressant drug.

According to,

The implant is about the size of a grain of rice and is placed under the skin. The deslorelin acetate it releases binds to receptors in the body that are normally used by gonadotropin releasing hormone thereby suppressing the production of the reproductive hormones necessary for sperm production in males and normal estrus cycles in females.

Interestingly, the drug has also been approved to treat non-cancerous enlarged prostate glands, a common issue in un-neutered older dogs.

How it’s administered

The drug is injected under the skin in the manner as a microchip and lasts for six to twelve months. However, it is not an immediate sterilization. In females it can take three weeks and males up to two months before they are truly sterile (Saint Louis Zoo).

Also like a microchip, they are not designed to be removed, though it is possible to do if the implant is placed carefully. The main thing is to make sure it’s placed somewhere the dosage can be absorbed (fatty, bone, and cartilaginous area should be avoided).

The Zoo’s site also says it has helped with aggression in some animals, though a higher dose is needed in those cases.

Side Effects

According to Peptech Animal Health, trials with more than 500 dogs over eight years have shown no side effects.

The only precautions the Saint Louis Zoo notes is increased appetite that results in weight gain, especially in females. Of course, traditional spay/neuter also causes weight gain. In addition males, may lose some muscle mass.

The other interesting thing I found was that this drug is, in fact, available in the USA commercially, but for the treatment of ferret adrenal disease only.

So what does an American vet think about this solution?

“While it is true that any contraception is better than no contraception in the battle against pet overpopulation, here in the US -spaying and neutering are the gold standard in controlling pet population overgrowth. There are many health benefits to neutering and spaying, among them: spaying helps prevent breast cancer and uterine infections; and neutering prevents testicular cancer and prostatic infections.  There may be a place for a reversible type of contraception in this country where spaying and neutering are not possible but we would need to know the long-term side effects of any hormonal contraception therapy.”    – Dr. Richard Goldstein, Chief Medical Officer, The Animal Medical Center-NYC

What do you think? Would you consider this as an option for your dog?

About the Author

Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She is the founder of A Fairytail House, a unique all-positive all-sport dog training facility that helps rescue dogs in her area and provides free seminars and training classes for the community. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.

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