There is a growing interest in chemical sterilization as an alternative to surgical castration in large-scale sterilization campaigns to control canine populations. An important step toward understanding the short-term and long-term effects of chemical sterilants is to determine their impact on blood testosterone concentrations, particularly as these could influence dog behavior after treatment. A field trial was conducted with 118 free-roaming male dogs in the Chilean Patagonia, where 36 dogs were chemically sterilized using EsterilSol, 39 dogs were surgically castrated, and 43 dogs remained intact as controls. Blood testosterone levels were determined at four time periods: on enrollment 6 months before treatment (t-6m), at the time of treatment (t0, within one hour after surgical castration or chemical sterilization and during a concurrent 2-week period for the control group), four (t+4m), and six (t+6m) months after treatment. Intrinsic and temporal factors were evaluated; age was significantly associated with testosterone, where dogs 2- to 4-year-old had the highest testosterone concentrations (P = 0.036), whereas body weight and body condition scores were not associated with testosterone; testosterone concentration was not influenced by time of day, month, or season. After treatment (t+4m and t+6m), all of the surgically castrated dogs had testosterone concentrations below 1.0 ng/mL. On the basis of this cut point (<1 ng/mL), testosterone remained unchanged in 66% of the chemically sterilized dogs at both t+4m and t+6m; it remained low for 22% of dogs at both t+4m and t+6m; it was unchanged at t+4m but low at t+6m in 9% of dogs; and, it was low at t+4m but reverted back to unchanged at t+6m in one dog (3%). Incidentally, testosterone in chemically sterilized dogs increased dramatically within 1 hour of treatment (t0), more than doubling (131%) the concentration of control dogs at the time of treatment (t0), likely because of severe necrosis of interstitial cells. The use of EsterilSol as a method of sterilizing dogs had a variable effect on blood testosterone concentrations. Approximately, 30% of chemically sterilized dogs had a reduced testosterone concentration (actual maximum, 1 ng/mL) after 6 months, similar to that of surgically castrated dogs. Most chemically sterilized dogs, however, showed no long-term changes in blood testosterone concentrations.
Keywords: Chemical sterilization; Dog; EsterilSol; Free roaming; Testosterone; Zeuterin.
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