Summary Post: Immunocontraception and Chemical Sterilization

For the past few weeks, I have been researching various chemical sterilization techniques and writing a white paper on how they offer a better solution to sterilization than surgical spay and neuter techniques. Through my research, I have reached the following conclusions:

Because of the time and cost effectiveness of chemical sterilization techniques, they offer an opportunity to sterilize large masses of animals for very little time or money (Cavaleiri, 2017). With the increase in research on chemical sterilization, such techniques may be optimal for population control of feral animals.

But are they optimal for pet owners? If you consider the reasons why pet owners sterilize their animals, chemical sterilization methods may be ideal. The vast majority, and more commonly used, of chemical sterilization techniques alter behavior in the same way that surgical sterilization does. Because of this, if a pet owner is only looking for an inexpensive behavior alteration, chemical sterilization techniques are ideal. In addition, chemical sterilization techniques are most likely ideal for lower-income pet owners, who cannot afford costly surgeries.

Although the lower efficiency rate of chemical sterilization techniques as opposed to surgical sterilization techniques may be a concern to most pet owners, it may not be an issue in controlled situations. For animals that roam freely more often than not, chemical sterilization may not be the most ideal method for sterilizing an animal. However, in situations in which an animal is almost constantly under supervision, as with most pets, chemical sterilization techniques may be ideal, as they decrease reproductive behaviors and the greater chance of reproducing. For instance, outdoor cats may not be prime recipients, but indoor cats may be.

Another concern pet owners often have when choosing to sterilize an animal is safety. Most chemical sterilization techniques remove any risks involved with surgery, anesthesia, and a long hospital stay. However, because the ovaries and testes are not being physically removed, the chance of developing mammary or testicular cancer is increased, despite the fact that most immunocontraceptive methods on their own do not increase the likelihood of developing mammary tumors. Breeds of dogs and cats vary in regards to susceptibility to cancer. More cancer-susceptible animals may not be recommended for chemical sterilization techniques, especially hormonal down-regulation methods, while cancer-insusceptible breeds may be.

Chemical sterilization techniques show great promise in the field of veterinary medicine. Currently they show several features that hinder their use, but as research on them continues, such hinderances may be worked out. Fortunately, such chemical sterilization techniques give everyone involved in animal care hope for safer, low cost spay and neuter techniques.