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Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 26944
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Fertility Treatments: I have 2 female French Bulldogs. With

Customer Question

Fertility Treatments for Dogs: I have 2 female French Bulldogs. With one of them, I have tried to breed her several times. I've tried Surgical Inseminations, multiple AI's, even TCI's...my progesterones have always been on point, and I've used fresh potent semen, chilled semen, etc...she rarely gets pregnant, and if she does, she may be carrying one puppy. I also have another girl who has been bred twice, but has never had more than three puppies. My question is, I know there are treatments that human women take to help make them more fertile...but what can I use for my dogs, to get them to produce more eggs for fertilization?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. To answer you directly, no, there are no approved therapies for inducing superovulation in dogs. Here's a synopsis of female infertility for you to review. It's taken from Clinical Veterinary Advisor, 3rd Ed. Cote', 2015. Please ignore the page references.

Infertility, Female Dog

 Basic Information

Definition

Includes failure to cycle, failure to ovulate, failure to accept the male, failure to become pregnant, failure to maintain pregnancy, and/or failure to deliver live puppies at term

Synonyms

Infecundity, sterility, persistent anestrus

Epidemiology

Species, Age, Sex

Canine, any time after puberty (6 months and older), female

Genetics and Breed Predisposition

More prevalent in inbred families of purebred dogs. Anecdotal information indicating that some breeds of dogs have poor fertility (e.g., Norwich terriers, Bernese mountain dogs, and some sight hounds). Some conformation traits require assistance with breeding and parturition (e.g., bulldogs).

Risk Factors

  • Advancing age can decrease fertility. Peak fertility is 2-4 years of age.
  • Poor or incomplete breeding management is responsible for most apparent infertility in the bitch.
  • Previous hormone therapy, abnormal hormone concentrations, and uterine disease also increase the risk of infertility.
  • Anestrus, silent heat, persistent estrus, irregular estrus, abnormal sexual behavior, uterine disease, hypoluteoidism, structural abnormalities of the female reproductive tract, systemic illness, and inappropriate nutrition (excessive or inadequate caloric intake, raw diets contaminated with Salmonella spp. and/or E. coli) all may predispose to infertility.

Contagion and Zoonosis

Several bacterial and viral agents contributing to infertility are contagious and can be spread both by inhalation and venereally, including beta-hemolytic Streptococcus, Mycoplasma, and Ureaplasma spp., and canine herpesvirus. The most significant canine venereal disease is Brucella canis (see p. 148).

Geography and Seasonality

Female domestic dogs are nonseasonal, with the exception of the basenji, which enters proestrus only in the late summer/early fall.

Associated Disorders

Pseudocyesis (see p. 854) occurs in many bitches whether they are pregnant or not and has not been linked to infertility. Vaginal hyperplasia (see p. 1059) may contribute to infertility by limiting or preventing natural service (does not interfere with artificial insemination).

Clinical Presentation

Disease Forms/Subtypes

  • Breeding management issues
  • Abnormalities of the estrous cycle
  • Uterine abnormalities

History, Chief Complaint

Varies with the client; medical history is the most important tool in the approach to infertility. Important elements in the history include:

  • General health history: vaccination status of the bitch; current medications; past medications, vitamins, and herbal sup­plements, including heartworm-preven­tative and topical medications
  • Housing details: kennel, home, indoor, outdoor, and number of bitches in the household
  • Bitch's age at first estrous cycle—should occur by 24 months of age
  • Length of each cycle from onset of vulvar swelling to diestrus cytology
  • Interestrous interval—average is 7 months but shorter or longer could be normal or abnormal depending upon the individual
  • Details of cycle: onset of vulvar swelling and vulvar discharge, onset of estrous behavior (flagging), dates of mating
  • Method of mating: natural service or artificial insemination by bitch owner, stud owner, or veterinarian
  • Artificial insemination including type of semen (fresh, cooled/shipped, or frozen) and site of semen deposition (vagina or uterus)
    • Stud dog status—when did stud dog last sire puppies
  • Dates of last B. canis serologic testing for both the bitch and the stud dog
  • Method of pregnancy diagnosis: palpation, hormone assay, ultrasound, or radiographs
  • Were hormone assays performed during the cycle? Was vaginal cytology and/or progesterone testing performed to determine optimal breeding time? If progesterone testing was done, was it quantitative or qualitative? Was ovulation confirmed after the LH peak?
  • Was the bitch being campaigned or under any other stressful event such as a new home?
  • History in infertility in the pedigree if any

Physical Exam Findings

Physical examination is usually within normal limits. Special attention should be paid to the external genitalia and mammary glands.

  • Ambiguous genitalia may be an indicator of an intersex state (clitoral enlargement suggestive) and may be supportive of primary anestrus.
  • Digital vaginal examination (see p. 1247): to assess patency and accessibility of the vulva and caudal vagina
  • Vaginal examinations should be performed gently and atraumatically; may not be feasible in toy-breed bitches that are anestrous at the time of examination.
  • Vaginal septae and circumferential strictures may interfere with natural service and with artificial insemination into the vagina as well.
  • Visual inspection and palpation of the mammary glands

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Mistimed breeding is by far the most common cause of infertility.
  • Ovarian dysfunction: abnormalities in ovulation and maintenance of the corpus luteum, persistent estrus, and primary anestrus (can occur in both XO bitches and XXY bitches)
  • Silent heat must be differentiated from primary anestrus.
  • Uterine dysfunction: lesions of the uterus (cystic endometrial hyperplasia/pyometra), subclinical uterine infection, shortened interestrous interval, resulting in implantation failure. The canine uterus requires 130 to 150 days after the onset of proestrus for endometrial repair to occur.

 Diagnosis

Diagnostic Overview

The diagnosis is based on a compilation of history (most important), physical examination, and results of laboratory evaluation. Historical information provided by the client is the cornerstone of the diagnostic process and must be elicited comprehensively. Without complete historical information it is challenging to diagnose the cause of infertility and anestrus. A global approach to diagnosis and management is outlined on p. 1478.

Differential Diagnosis

  • Pregnancy loss
  • Ovulation failure
  • Silent heat (endocrinologically normal estrous cycle with minimal to no external signs of proestrus or estrus)
  • Stud dog infertility

Initial Database

  • CBC, serum biochemistry profile, thyroid panel, B. canis serology, vaginal cytologic examination, vaginal culture if in estrus or if discharge present
  • Hypoproteinemia and/or or renal dysfunction may contribute to infertility.

Advanced or Confirmatory Testing

  • Vaginoscopy
  • Progesterone testing to document ovulation and assess luteal function. Progesterone testing is recommended monthly to assess cyclicity if the client has not observed cycles.
  • Ultrasonography of the uterus and ovaries
  • Canine herpesvirus titer
  • Ovarian and/or uterine biopsy with histopathologic evaluation could be used in select cases.
  • In cases of primary anestrus, it is wise to determine the karyotype of the bitch to assess her actual chromosomal makeup. Trisomy X, XO females, and other abnormal chromosome combinations have been reported. Many normal sight hound bitches do not cycle until near 24 months old.

 Treatment

Treatment Overview

Targeted treatment is based on the underlying cause of the infertility. In most cases, correctly improper breeding management through client education will correct the problem.

Acute and Chronic Treatment

  • Shortened interestrous interval: mibolerone 30-180 mcg/dose (small to large dog) PO q 24h (schedule IV controlled substance)
  • Treatment for cystic endometrial hyperplasia/pyometra if present (see p. 876)
  • Treatment for persistent estrus if present (see p. 844)
  • There is no reliable therapy to induce fertile estrus in the bitch. There are many protocols in use with varying outcomes, but no controlled studies have been published. The most commonly attempted protocols include the use of Ovuplant (a deslorelin subvestibular implant) or the oral antiprolactinic medication cabergoline (5 mcg/kg PO q 24h until signs of proestrus develop).

Nutrition/Diet

  • Diet with an Association of American Feed Control Officials statement that this diet is complete for all life stages, based on feeding trials
  • If feeding a puppy food during the second half of gestation, it should be a small-breed puppy food.
  • No controlled studies to support any claims of over-the-counter supplements that purportedly increase litter size, regulate estrous cycles, promote normal delivery, and so on; some may result in infertility.
  • Avoid calcium supplementation prepartum.

Behavior/Exercise

  • A bitch that is removed from her litter too early or a singleton puppy may never demonstrate normal breeding behavior because of her lack of appropriate interaction with littermates at an early age.
  • A bitch that is the first canine within a household may not accept a male that is added to the household at a later date (consider artificial insemination).
  • Performance bitches may be allowed to continue training in the venue in which they compete, but under optimal environmental and hygiene conditions to minimize risk to bitch and fetuses.

Drug Interactions

Use care in the selection of any medication used in a breeding bitch. For example, topical corticosteroids that are commonly found in otic preparations can be absorbed systemically and are not recommended. Use recommended readings for appropriate drug selection in pregnancy.

Possible Complications

  • Mibolerone causes clitoral hypertrophy, epiphora, and tear staining and may increase aggression toward other dogs. This drug can exacerbate existing liver enzyme elevation. Dogs with normal liver enzymes rarely have changes as a result of the drug.
  • The progestational compounds may cause masculinization of female fetuses, mammary enlargement, and/or prolong gestation resulting in fetal death.

Recommended Monitoring

Confirm pregnancy ultrasonographically 30 days post breeding. Serum progesterone concentrations at that time and weekly if there is any indication of variability in embryonic vesicle size or embryonic loss.

 Prognosis & Outcome

  • Good to excellent for clients who will comply with breeding management recommendations
  • Guarded for bitches with uterine disease and/or ovarian dysfunction
  • Poor for bitches with primary anestrus due to chromosomal abnormalities

 Pearls & Considerations

Comments

  • infertility of the stud dog is the second most common cause of female infertility after improper breeding management. The stud dog must also be evaluated and demonstrated to produce adequate numbers of motile and morphologically normal sperm, and the semen must be inseminated properly.
  • Failure to cycle is often a failure to observe the bitch adequately for physical changes consistent with proestrus. The client should blot the vulva daily to detect vaginal discharge and change in vulvar size and shape +/− monthly progesterone assays to detect ovulation with unobserved estrus.

Technician Tips

Be prepared for many questions from clients whose dogs fail to produce puppies. Many clients think that all bitches should be bred on a particular (10th/12th/other) pair of days from the onset of proestrus or every day while she is receptive, and such preconceived notions need to be anticipated and addressed with medical fact, as described above.

Client Education

  • Suggest a reproductive workup before the next anticipated estrous cycle.
  • Vaginal cytologic evaluation, vaginal culture, and serum progesterone testing
  • Importance of good semen and proper insemination technique

Suggested Reading

  1. Wilborn RR, et al: Clinical approaches to infertility in the bitch. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 42(3):457–468, 2012.

Additional Suggested Readings

  1. Gobello C, et al: Noninfectious/spontaneous pregnancy loss in bitches. Compend Contin Educ Vet 24(10):778–783, 2002.
  2. Johnston S, et al: Clinical approach to infertility in the bitch. In: Johnston SD, editor, et al: Canine and feline theriogenology, Philadelphia, 2001, Saunders, 257–273.
  3. Peña FJ, et al: Mismating and abortion in bitches: the preattachment period. Compend Contin Educ Vet 24(5):400–408,2002.
  4. Ronsse V, et al: Risk factors and reproductive disorders associated with canine herpesvirus-1 (CHV-1). Theriogenology61619–636, 2004.

Author:

Frances O. Smith, DVM, PhD, DACT

Editor:

Michelle A. Kutzler, DVM, PhD, DACT

Côté: Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Dogs and Cats, 3rd Edition
Copyright © 2015 by Mosby, Elsevier
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Hi Paul,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin