Services for the Bitch:
In order to give your bitch the best possible chance at a pregnancy, we recommend timing her ovulation. Timing the bitch has shown to increase conception rates and litter size, as well as provide accurate dates for planning fresh chilled or frozen semen breeding. Once we know when she ovulated, we can predict ideal dates for pregnancy ultrasound and x-rays, as well as give you a whelping date within a few days.
At her first timing appointment, a physical exam and consultation will occur, as well as evaluation of her stage in the cycle. For most bitches, progesterone testing, vaginal cytology, and vaginoscopy will be used in combination to estimate the ideal breeding timing. Progesterone results can be received same day for morning samples. For most cycles, we will run tests (a blood draw and a vaginal exam/swab) every other day or every third day to monitor her cycle.
It is important to remember that your investment timing her ovulation is often made up for with a larger litter size and better conception rates for your program. It also provides a specific window to expect whelping to occur, which can help aid in your planning and flexibility nearing her due date. A bitch that has no ovulation timing information can be due over a period of 2 weeks, which is quite a long time to monitor for whelping. Safety of knowing a true due date range also improves our understanding when things go “wrong” close to term, such as premature labor, or delayed labor, both of which can be life threatening to the puppies and sometimes the bitch.
Owners often are capable of assisting dogs that struggle with natural breeding. We are happy to assist with this process, and assess if there is a medical reason why the two dogs may not be able to naturally breed.
This form of insemination is recommended for dogs and bitches with proven fertility. The semen is deposited in the vaginal canal via an insemination catheter.
Using a specialized endoscope with a camera, a small catheter is guided across the vaginal folds, through the opening of the cervix, and into the uterus. The dog is fully awake and in a standing position for the breeding, ready to go home right after the insemination! This method yields excellent conception rates, and is recommended for fertile as well as sub-fertile dogs or bitches. Frozen semen TCI is just as successful, if not slightly more successful, than frozen surgical insemination.
Implantation of semen surgically is another option for sub-fertile dogs or bitches, especially in cases where the bitch’s uterus is suspected to have an abnormality, such as cysts. Occasionally, a bitch may have a vagina or cervix that is difficult to pass through with TCI, and in many of those cases we will convert to a surgical procedure (especially in the case of frozen semen) for equal success. The dog is under anesthesia, and an area of the abdomen is shaved. The abdomen is opened to access the uterus. During this process we are able to visualize the reproductive tract in full. A small catheter is placed into the uterine lumen for the insemination. Recovery is just as it would be for other surgeries, and the bitch must be on “bed rest” for some time. Although not common, incision infections and other complications can occur, as it is an invasive procedure.
Each breeding plan is individual in its needs, and we will do our best to recommend the option that will most likely result in a pregnancy for both dam and sire owner.
Bitches choose when they want to come in season, when they need to be bred, and when they are due. Breedings on weekends and holidays will accommodated if recommended by the doctor. Dr. Hesser will be available for most circumstances, but in the event she is unavailable, another staff member or relief option will be arranged.
Pregnancy diagnosis are recommended around 25-26 days post-ovulation. At this time, we can roughly estimate the litter size as well as see heartbeats within each normal fetus. Assessment can be performed later than this if it is convenient, but the accuracy of estimating number estimation is best in the earlier stages.
Pregnancy ultrasound can also be used for assessing fetal health throughout pregnancy, just as it is used in human medicine. High risk pregnancies can be evaluated regularly to ensure proper development is occurring. At term, fetal ultrasound can give us information on fetal “readiness” for c-section and indications of fetal distress.
Pregnancy x-rays are recommended within 3-5 days of her due date based on ovulation timing. The closer to term she is, the more clear our images (and our accuracy) will be. X-rays can be taken sooner, but may not provide you all of the information available closer to term. X-rays are the best method for counting the number of puppies to expect at delivery. At term, puppy size can also be compared to the pelvic canal if puppies seem oversized. If oversized puppies are present, we can then avoid inevitable whelping problems that may have caused loss of the litter.
Planned Caesarian section can be safely performed with accurate ovulation timing in dogs. Fetal maturity can be assessed with ultrasound, looking at organ development, as the puppies approach term. Some breeds lend themselves to needing C-sections more frequently. Pregnancies of single puppies or of many puppies sometimes can warrant a planned C-section, as well as some medical conditions during pregnancy.
Elective C-sections are available to all clients during working hours. After-hours (weekend/holiday days, for example) C-sections are only available to those clients whose dogs have their breeding management and pregnancy care through our practice. Dr. Hesser will be available for most planned after-hours services. As it is a planned process, we will know ahead of time if she will not be available when your bitch is due, and make arrangements with our clinic or with a local alternative after-hours care facility.
Emergency Dystocia and C-sections-
After-hours emergency whelping assistance and C-sections are also available for those bitches who have ovulation timing and are enrolled with ACVH for their pregnancy care. Dr. Hesser will be available on call for most whelping issues, as well as able to come in for C-section as needed. As whelping bitches with ovulation timing is a relatively timed event, we will know ahead of time in the event she may be unavailable at the time your bitch is due. If it is not possible for her to assist you at the time of your emergency, we recommend seeing your closest emergency hospital for further medical care or C-section.
Accidental Pregnancy Termination
Accidental breedings can happen in the blink of an eye, even to the most experienced of owners or handlers. Unwanted pregnancy due to mismating can be handled one of three ways: allowing the litter to carry, medical management to terminate pregnancy, or surgical management (spay) in early accidental pregnancy. For most owners, spay can be the simplest and most cost-effective option. If, however, the dog is a valuable breeding animals or should not be spayed for other personal or medical reasons, safe medical alternatives exist.
Pyometra, or infection in the uterus, is a common problem of intact female dogs. For most owners, spay is preferred, as the disease will likely recur in future cycles. For other circumstances, it may be desired to attempt medical treatment for hope of future breeding possibilities. Dogs that have been affected with pyometra can have reduced fertility, but with swift management of the pyometra medically, success of future breedings can be maximized. It should be remembered that as soon as she has produced the litter(s) desired, she should be spayed to prevent future uterine infections that can be life-threatening.