ORLANDO, Fla. - It's taken nearly 40 years, but researchers have finally come up with a way to neuter your family dog without surgery.
A company just got government approval to start using an injectable drug called Zeuterin, and now Central Florida is one of the first places in the nation to start using it.
[WEB EXTRA: Neutering without surgery]
Throughout her career Dr. Becky Rhoades says she's neutered thousands of dogs. In fact, it's a surgical process that's almost second nature to her.
"We've done them for years and years and just not really had any problems, but the idea of not having to put them under anesthesia is huge," said Rhoades.
Complications from anesthesia can kill some dogs, and that's why she says this new product opens new doors.
Zeuterin is a one-time injection that neuters a dog permanently without cutting.
Dr. Byron Maas works for the drug's manufacturer Ark Sciences. He traveled to Orlando to train a group of Central Florida vets how to administer it.
"Now, we can sterilize a dog, but they get the benefit of keeping their testicles and some benefits of having testosterone for normal metabolic function," explained Maas.
Other benefits include no anesthesia risks, the injection takes just seconds and it's pretty painless. It also cost pet owners as little as 20 dollars; much cheaper that surgery.
But there are some concerns.
Zeuterin only eliminates the testosterone used for reproduction. The remaining testosterone could be funneled into sexual aggression or agitation in dogs who may also continue to mark their territory.
For those dogs, veterinarians still recommend the old tried-and-true procedure with a scalpel.
Shelters, like the SPCA of Central Florida, tell Local 6 Zeuterin can help neuter more dogs when they're out in the field; possibly even helping with strays.
"We need to be able to do something quickly and effectively to be able to do it without a lot of surgical supplies. So we can actually double our ability to sterilize animals with just doing injections," said Rhoades.
Right now, Zeuterin is only being used on dogs and only on males. The makers are not saying if they plan to use it on cats or if they're working on something similar for female animals.
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