CalChlorin: The best-kept secret in Veterinary Science?





A Viable, Safe and Affordable Solution to the overpopulation crisis

We have a significant dog and cat overpopulation problem in South Africa. It is a deepening crisis for a number of reasons:

1. Most SA animal welfare organisations are focused on rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming, none of which have any effect on overpopulation since they do not address the root cause, i.e. we are breeding more animals than the community can absorb.
2. There are too few welfare organisations concentrating on mass sterilisation, and the ones that do, are not doing enough sterilising to have a significant impact on overpopulation.
3. Sterilisation procedures are prohibitively expensive and beyond the means of most people, and there are too few vets who are willing to participate in mass sterilisation projects.
4. For the above reasons, the suggestion to enact mandatory sterilisation legislation is a half-baked solution that is more likely to lead to DIY home castrations and widespread confiscations and euthanasia than anything else. It should also be obvious that laws on their own don’t bring change; if only the world were that simple. Unless there is adequate policing, financial support in the form of government subsidies, and sufficient capacity, nothing much will change.

There is a need to find innovative solutions that bypass all of the current obstacles.

“…for many reasons, surgical sterilization may not be effective as the sole method for population control. It requires anaesthesia, medical equipment, a sterile surgical suite, a trained veterinarian, recovery time, incision site observation, and more. It carries the risks that inherent in any surgical procedure. Furthermore, many people are unwilling to subject their pets to what they perceive to be a painful and invasive procedure. The cost of surgery is prohibitive for many owners, particularly in developing countries. In addition, when considering cat populations where permanent sterilization is desired, surgical methods can be expensive to be performed on a large scale. Presently, a viable alternative to surgical sterilization is being intensively investigated. A non-surgical form of contraception is a promising additional method of pet population control. An ideal non-surgical sterilizing agent would be one which is safe, effective, affordable, permanent, and delivered in a single injection, with predictable effects on behaviour and health.” ( )

As early as 1978, researchers began to investigate the use of calcium chloride dihydrate (CaCl2) as a chemical castrating agent. CaCl2 is a commonly available salt used for various medical applications.

More recently, a study of sterilization of male stray dogs with a single intratesticular injection of calcium chloride was conducted by Jana and Sumanta with an encouraging conclusion: “An intratesticular injection of CaCl2 at specified doses could be a suitable method of sterilization in preference to surgical castration of dogs.”

A subsequent study by Jana and Sumanta using cats was even more positive: “A single bilateral intra-testicular injection of calcium chloride solution is effective, economical, easy to perform and does not require to removal of testis in cats. It causes permanent sterilization and is a simple alternative method to surgical castration.”

Leoci at al conducted the first study on long-term sterilization effects of intratesticular injection of CaCl2 in either lidocaine solution or alcohol in dogs. They concluded that “The current study is the first to evaluate the long-term effects of different diluents used in CaCl2 sterilization. Our findings demonstrate the high potential of 20% CaCl2 in alcohol as a sterilant for use in stray male dogs. The sterilant fulfils the principal requirements for application to a population of stray canines. A single, bilateral intratesticular injection for stray dogs is effective in achieving long-term infertility, inhibits sexual behaviour, does not cause chronic stress to the animal, causes few inflammatory reactions, lacks other undesirable side effects, is easily performed, and is economical..”

So calcium chloride works. But when safety comes from doing the same thing as everyone else, even if there’s a better, faster, cheaper, safer way, which veterinarians will be brave enough to risk trying something new? The first U.S. veterinarian and shelters to try calcium chloride in dogs have now stepped up, with successful use now in over 1,000 dogs, and discovered important information about dosing in large dogs (larger dogs than studied in India or Italy).

It’s also a LOT cheaper. A single sterilisation is estimated to cost around R60, which is a significant improvement on the absurd R1500 I was told my vet usually charges for male sterilisations and less than 10% of the welfare rate for the same process. It’s also well within reach of EVERYONE…

Seems like a no-brainer to me. So what are the SAVC/SAVA doing about the crisis? I went to their sites and it seems they are blissfully unaware of calcium chloride, and I wonder whether our companion animals are less important to vets than their shiny SUV’s?

I have emailed both organisations asking for information concerning research into calcium chloride as a solution to the overpopulation crisis in SA. I’m still waiting for a reply.

I’m also speaking to independent people who may be prepared to make calcium chloride available and conduct the research themselves…

I’ll keep you informed as this process continues…

More reading:

CalChlor Pdf

Update July 2016: