Hor­monal im­plants

Los Angeles Times - - THE PETS ISSUE - Health@latimes.com

If reg­u­lar vet­eri­nary medicine is be­hind hu­man medicine in terms of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances, ex­otic an­i­mal medicine is medicine’s for­got­ten stepchild. There are very few re­search stud­ies on ex­otic species, and those that are avail­able are of­ten lim­ited to a sin­gle species.

But one re­cent in­no­va­tion has been able to span many species. Des­lore­lin is a con­tra­cep­tive hor­mone that has been for­mu­lated into a sus­tained-re­lease im­plant and is widely used as birth con­trol in zoos. Only within the last cou­ple of years has it be­come com­mer- cially avail­able in the ex­otic pet mar­ket. The size of a rice grain, the im­plant is in­serted be­neath the skin with a wide-gauge nee­dle. Over time the im­plant re­leases des­lore­lin, which acts on the pi­tu­itary gland to shut down the cas­cade of cir­cu­lat­ing re­pro­duc­tive hor­mones. Dr. Amy Wells, an ex­otic vet at the Avian and Ex­otic Clinic of Monterey, uses it to treat adrenal gland dis­ease in fer­rets, as well as to re­lieve par­rots suf­fer­ing from sex­ual frus­tra­tion — of­ten self-mu­ti­lat­ing and be­com­ing ag­gres­sive to their own­ers — when they are kept in cap­tiv­ity with­out a mate. She also fre­quently im­plants des­lore­lin in backyard chick­ens to pre­vent oviduct im­paction — a lifethreat­en­ing con­di­tion that oc­curs when eggs get backed up in the re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem and which costs about $1,000 to sur­gi­cally re­pair.

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