Time to consider alternatives to surgical spay and neuter

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted healthcare around the world — including veterinary care for pets. To reduce transmission and comply with shelter-in-place orders, many veterinary clinics are only open for emergencies. The American Veterinary Medical Association has asked veterinarians to defer elective procedures to preserve vital medical supplies for human use. Some veterinarians consider pet sterilization to be elective, so spay/neuter services have become less available. Meanwhile, people isolating at home are adopting new pets at higher than normal rates. This could result in a surge of litters of unwanted puppies and kittens.

The Parsemus Foundation urges pet owners and veterinarians to use this time to weigh the pros and cons of options other than traditional, surgical spay and neuter to sterilize pets and reduce pet overpopulation. Here are some options and links for more information:

  • Non-surgical, temporary contraception for cats — The Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D) is encouraging providers to use megestrol acetate for estrus prevention in female cats. It is provided orally and can be obtained through a compounding pharmacy.  While a temporary measure, this nonsurgical contraceptive method adheres to social distancing and preservation of medical supplies. More details from ACC&D are here.
  • Non-surgical sterilization for dogs, cats and small animals — Calcium chloride dihydrate solution is a chemical sterilant for male animals that is administered via intratesticular injection. It can be obtained through a compounding pharmacy or in pre-measured doses that can be mixed onsite. The cost is extremely low but requires basic medical supplies. Best outcomes typically occur in smaller animals and when used by experienced veterinarians. See details from the Parsemus Foundation (for dogs, cats and small animals) and SpayFirst! (dogs).
  • Hormone-sparing sterilization options — While many pet owners must postpone their pet’s sterilization until social distancing restrictions are lifted, this is a great time to learn more about hormone-sparing options. Traditional spay and neuter procedures remove the hormone-producing ovaries and testicles, leaving the pet without natural hormones. Recent research has found that this lack of normal hormone balance is related to a number of serious health conditions. Hormone-sparing options such as hysterectomy or vasectomy sterilize the pet while preserving the hormones. Learn more about these options for female dogs and male dogs so you’re prepared to discuss the best option for your dog when veterinary clinics are fully operational.

And don’t forget that our veterinary directory includes clinics that offer alternative contraceptive options for pets.