Reversible birth control for pets a reality

Posted at 10:23 AM, Dec 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-02 11:25:00-05

Despite pleas from animal activists, many pet owners struggle with the decision to spay or neuter their pets because of the finality of the decision. What if there was a reversible birth control option for your furry friend?

Think of it as The Shot for dogs.

Veterinarians in Australia, New Zealand and Europe have been using a drug called deslorelin on pets since at least 2007 to give owners the option for them to breed later.

According to Pet MD, the drug “suppresses reproductive hormones necessary for sperm reproduction in males and normal estrus cycles in females.” The deslorelin is inside a device the size of a grain of rice that is implanted in the dog for six months to a year.

Despite years of availability overseas, the drug has never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in America. But that may because there has never been a sufficient push to get it OK’d.

“I don’t think anyone has ever even tried,” wrote Dr. Peggy Root Kustritz, an expert in animal reproduction, in an email. Kustritz is Assistant Dean of Education at the University of Minnesota Collect of Veterinary Medicine.

“For male dogs, there’s not a great reason to use it unless you’re in some situation where males must be housed with (unspayed) females to whom they should not be bred,” she said.

Kustritz doubts deslorelin will become a popular birth control option for pets in the U.S., mostly because of the inconvenience it would bring. “Most pet owners in the United States do not want to have to continually address their pet’s reproduction and so choose surgical sterilization,” she said.

In 2007, ABC News reported that each deslorelin implant costs between $52 and $77.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.