Progesterone Concentration Simplifying Canine Reproduction

Dr Kurt De Cramer BVSc MMedVet (Gyn) PhD

Rant en Dal Animal Hospital, Mogale City

Most veterinary practitioners don’t deal much with bitches in oestrus and may lack experience and skills to interpret reproductive examinations such as appearance of the vaginal mucous membranes on vaginal speculum examinations and vaginal smears. Progesterone concentrations (PC) may aid both experienced and less experienced practitioners in reproductive consultations of the bitch. Although progesterone assays have been locally available for some years, the turnaround time impedes its usefulness in cases where immediate  decisions need to be made. Point of care progesterone assays in South Africa are now a reality with one product currently available and various others soon to become available.

The use of progesterone assays should be considered within the scope of the small animal general practitioner. Clinicians with  clients who breed dogs and occasionally need to perform caesarean sections will find value in performing progesterone assays as experienced dog breeders are well aware of the value of progesterone results. It is known that in the dog up to 75% of failures to conceive can be attributed to incorrect timing of breeding. The ability to accurately time breeding is of practical and economic importance for breeders. Optimal timing benefits breeders in the following ways:

  • Maximises pregnancy rates (semen and stud fees are expensive)
  • Maximises litter sizes (semen and stud fees are expensive)
  • Allows the breeder to plan travel for matings
  • Allows optimising time for assisted breeding techniques
  • Allows optimising time for breedings where access to the stud is limited to one or two matings
  • Allows optimising time for breeding bitches that remain unreceptive or show silent heats
  • Ovulation timing gives fair estimates of expected whelping dates

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