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The process of ovulation timing in the bitch is the single most important thing we can do to ensure high conception rates, increased litter sizes and successful breeding. There is a great deal of science behind this process and a little bit of “art”. When tracking ovulation timing in the bitch we have an added benefit beyond successful pregnancies with maximized litter sizes, we can calculate a whelping date within 24 hours and be more prepared for when our puppies are due!
The data points we use when performing complete ovulation timing:
- Behavior of the bitch and interest from other dogs
- Progesterone tracking (with either RIA or CIA tests – quantitative)
- LH Testing at the appropriate progesterone level
- Vaginoscopy to evaluate the changes of the vulva and vaginal vault
- Vaginal Cytology to correlate out hormone level changes
Not all breeding requires all of these tools and some are only used intermittently. The doctor in charge of the breeding will guide the recommendations for which are the most appropriate for the bitch and the breeding that is planned.
All of the information gathered in the methods utilized will be compiled to determine the optimum breeding timing.
Factors that influence breeding timing:
- Type of semen (fresh, fresh chilled, or frozen)
- Number of inseminations that will be done during the ovulation window
- Insemination type (natural, transvaginal, transcervical or surgical)
- Dual Sire mating
We will counsel you before the breeding is to be performed and help layout a plan based on these variances.
General guidelines for the handler of the bitch:
- When the bitch first comes into season have a baseline progesterone run to ensure the heat cycle is starting normally and they are truly at the beginning of the cycle
- Day 4-5 we start doing serial evaluations – mainly with progesterone testing
- The doctor and staff will guide you as to when we need the next progesterone level when results are received. We don’t follow a standard of testing every other day – every bitch is different! Our goal is to do as few tests as possible but gather the information that is needed.
- If the bitch needs to stay with us to decrease the driving concern or if weather is going to impede accurate tracking – please notify us – we have wonderful, low stress lodging facilities that will be like a home away from home.
- When blood is drawn before 10am Mon-Fri – we get results the same day between 4pm-6pm. On Sat we can draw up until 1pm and get results on Sunday. Sunday draws and pickups are also available when needed.
- With each progesterone draw, we will save serum back at our hospital to perform LH testing on when the timing is right. We do not run these tests unnecessarily – only when we feel we can catch the LH surge accurately based on the progesterone results.
- Notify the stud dog owner when we start tracking the cycle and put them on alert for the timing of the breeding.
Overview of the Canine Estrus Cycle:
Highlights of the Estrus Cycle:
- The LH surge occurs when the progesterone is between 1.8-2.5 ng/ml
- Ovulation occurs 24-48 hrs post LH surge
- Ovulation occurs (when using *RIA testing) between 5.0-6.0 ng/ml
- The breeding window can be as early as 24 hrs pre-ovulation for natural breeding and as late 96 hrs post-ovulation for TCI’s and surgical breeding.
- Bitches will not generally stand for more than 48 hrs post ovulation but with catheterization of the cervix using TCI, we can breed much later than a typical natural breeding
- Ultrasound to determine pregnancy is counted at 25 days post ovulation date
- Whelping is calculated at 63 days post ovulation date or 65 days post LH
- It is recommended to wait to take puppy count radiographs until the last week of gestation for the most accurate fetal-maternal measurements
Don’t be intimidated by this process, we are experts at this and the “Art of Ovulation Timing” and we look forward to helping you with all of your breeding needs!