Scientists Propose New Non-Invasive Spay and Neuter Procedure

Christina Peden
by Christina Peden
Researchers at the University of Guelph are testing a newly proposed non-surgical sterilization method that could ultimately save the lives of thousands of animals.

As pet owners, we all know that spaying and neutering is one of the best ways to keep our pets healthy and happy while also keeping the pet population under control.

However, these surgeries can also be painful and invasive, and it’s hard to see our beloved pets suffer. Not only that, but it can be expensive; a big reason that many people don’t get their pets fixed in the first place.

Dr. Leanne Stalker is hoping to change all that. Stalker works in the Biomedical Sciences department at the University of Guelph in Canada, and has just received a grant to develop a non-surgical method for sterilizing animals by altering their fertility at a cellular level.

Related: Do You Have Spay and Neuter Options?

The ultimate goal is to find a way to inhibit the activity of a group of small ribonucleic acids (or RNAs), which act almost like molecular “switches” that control the production of eggs and sperm. Stalker and her colleagues are hoping to develop an injectable method of delivering the inhibitor, which would result in a non-invasive, minimally painful and less expensive procedure.

And to further add to the awesome, the researchers aren’t performing any experiments on animals in developing this inhibitor — they’re using tissue from animals that have been spayed or neutered at the local humane society to devise their methods. Two thumbs waaaaaaaay up!

If Stalker and her team are successful, their solution would have wide-ranging positive effects.

Related: Post-Operative Spay and Neuter Care

Firstly, she points out, there’s always a small amount of risk anytime a pet has surgery, and the risk is even larger in places that don’t have access to proper veterinary care. A simple injection would eliminate this risk, saving countless lives.

Second, the decreased cost and zero recovery time would mean that rescues could afford to take in more animals and have them ready for adoption in a much shorter time frame than is possible now. Since the proposed method would involve only one injection, it would also be significantly easier to sterilize stray or feral dog and cats, ultimately resulting in fewer and fewer stray animals living on the street.

Basically, this sounds like it would be a win-win situation for everyone, so here’s hoping that Dr. Stalker and her team find success in developing their treatment.

Christina Peden
Christina Peden

Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada's all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city's numerous parks or curled up with a good book.

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