There is a traditional method of natural mating which, like the rhythm method in reproductive control in humans, relies on the counting of days. Akin to such traditional method, canine reproduction also relies on counting the days from the first proestral bleeding (start of “heat,” characterizes by vulvar swelling and bloody discharge) of the female dog or bitch, up to the day they display actual clinical estrus, also referred to as “standing heat.” This is when the dog allows herself to be mounted by a male dog, also known as a stud.

Veterinarians who receive training in exfoliative cytology do not rely on such traditional methods but upon recognized cytological feature. In medical specialty, cytology deals with the examination of body tissues to make diagnoses for diseases and conditions. In this case, we will focus on exfoliative vaginal cytology or, put simply, vaginal smear. I have had success in this area when a female dog doesn’t seem to sync with the stud timing after many attempts with the use of the traditional method because they were in “silent heat,” a term which describes a condition where female dogs go through their cycle but show no symptoms of a normal heat as usually seen through physical (vulvar swelling, vaginal bleeding) and behavioral (urge to mate) changes.

Mating environments and heat cycles

Sperm banks must also be further improved by being able to imitate life-like conditions of mating as in approximately the locking of the bulbus glandis of the male dog into the vagina firmly enough to ensure that there is no wastage of semen, thus optimizing the fertilization of the particular mating cycle. It has been stated in most theriogenology and reproduction textbooks in Canine Medicine that, on average, the dog has two cycles a year, with each estrus or heat lasting by as much as 12-21 days.

Estrus cycles in dogs vary between breeds and specific individuals. Another thing I have learned is that in tropical settings, such as in our country, length of estrus could be greatly influenced by climatic and environmental influences, such as light and temperature. The presence of other dogs may influence heat cycles as well.

Determining pregnancy in dogs

There are many diagnostic tests that are hormone-based specific to relaxin, a hormone produced by the placenta which becomes delectable in the blood. Such tests can detect pregnancy 22 to 27 days after mating, without the use of ultrasonography or radiography.

Dog mating

The heat cycle

Since pregnancy is a physiologic condition and not a disease, the vaginal smear must be performed by a skilled veterinarian to ensure that fertilization is done as accurately as possible.

1.In general, a bitch will be in heat for 19-21 days.

2. He will only be in “standing heat” and will be receptive shortly after she stops bleeding.

3. All efforts must be done to avoid a mismate. Mismating can mean mating between siblings, or mating between animals of different breeds where the female is smaller than the male, which could result in abnormal labor due to a large fetal size.

4. The use of Canine Semen Cryopreservation can possibly help in making the gene more heterozygous (diverse) by sperm-banking.

5. A few days before the actual heat, she will be attracting male dogs, but…

6. The vulva starts to swell 1-4 days to a week after the bleeding. The dog is clinically presumed to be fertile during this period of heat.

7. Artificial insemination can be done by skilled technicians to ensure that sufficient quantity and quality of viable sperm are introduced.

8. The bulbus glandis must be inside of the vagina of the female to avoid spillage of semen. The bulb-like structure prevents backflow and spillage of semen.

Exfoliative vaginal cytology is a quick and easy procedure in assessing what stage a dog is currently at, and it is used in the case of silent heat as well as other conditions related to inflammation, infection, and tumors. The cytology features depend on the estimated peak of hormones, primarily estrogen, which is responsible for ovulation and the urge to mate.

In cases where carers think their dogs are infertile, it is always ideal to seek advice from your trusted veterinarian to determine what is best for your dog’s health.

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