What Is Zeutering?

Photo: Aidras/flickr.

A new non-surgical procedure to sterilize male dogs has been getting lots of attention lately, but it's not for every dog. "Zeutering" involves chemically sterilizing a male dog by injecting the FDA-approved chemical Zeuterin into the animal's testicles.

Dogs are lightly sedated for the procedure, but it requires no anesthesia. There's little recovery time, minimal pain and no stitches.

However, studies show that zeutering is only 99 percent effective, and its long-term effects are still being researched. And the biggest downside is that because the testicles remain, so does some of the dog’s testosterone.

"Though rendered sterile, they may still exhibit some of the behaviors that are often eliminated with castration," writes Dr. Patty Khuly, a Miami-based veterinarian. "It also means they're still at risk of suffering some conditions neutering eliminates."

However, Khuly also points out that zeutered dogs could benefit from the remaining testosterone. Advantages of the hormone include reduced risk of obesity, improved muscle tone and a reduction in certain joint disorders and cancers.

Khuly says she'd recommend traditional neutering for dogs whose owners report behavior concerns such as aggression.

Still, zeutering is an alternative to castration for pet owners who don't want their dogs to go under the knife.

"There may be upsides for certain people who don't want a surgery — but that's the upside," said Dr. Carole Price, chief of staff at Spay-Neuter and Animal Wellness Clinic in Houston. "It is not something we're going to do in a high-volume setting with dogs that are strays and unknown personalities."