Traditionally male dogs have been neutered to reduce male behaviour patterns, and to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Male behavioural problems include roaming or vagrancy, excessive scent marking or urinating, aggression either towards other dogs or people, and mating behaviour patterns causing embarrassment to the owner!
Until now surgical castration remained the only effective method of reducing testosterone, but this is a permanent and irreversible treatment. Many concerned owners, worried about behavioural changes following castration, wanted a temporary and reversible treatment, that identically mimicked surgical castration so that they could assess accurately the effects of surgical castration, without an anaesthetic procedure.
Anti-testosterone injections formerly used, to mimic castration, were never able to demonstrate exactly how castration would improve their dogs behaviour as they used hormones known as progestagens to achieve their effects. Progestagens are female hormones, found at high levels during pregnancy, and in fact calm male dogs down in general.
This is not the same calming effect that is seen following castration, and therefore their use to demonstrate the true effects of castration were very limited.
The recent introduction of the castration implant to the UK, has answered the requirement for a simple reversible castration treatment, that mimics castration effects more accurately.
This is now available as a simple implant-similar to microchipping- carried out without anaesthetic. It provides castration effects for at least 6 months, and renders the dog infertile during the period of activity.
It allows us to demonstrate the efficacy of castration, particularly for behavioural problems in male dogs where the owner wants to try castration without anaesthetic, but is reversible.
At our clinic we have found this to be a more palatable method of convincing owners of the merits or otherwise of neutering their male dog, more cost effectively, and importantly reversibly. We expect more and more use of these implants in the future. Once a positive effect has been demonstrated the effects wear off and the owner has an option to neuter in order to maintain the effects. If no improvement in behaviour is noted with the implant, surgical castration is unlikely to provide any significant behavioural advantage and the owner avoids a surgical procedure.