Reproduction by means of artificial insemination using frozen semen
Guide for owners
The oestrus cycle of the bitch is very specific and breeders should have a good grasp of the normal cycle before breeding to increase their chances of success.
The first signs of the oestrus usually appear at 5-7 months of age, but can begin later in some breeds.
The oestrus cycle is divided in 4 phases, namely:
Each of these phases is associated with certain symptoms and the breeder should learn to recognise these in order to determine the optimal moment for the breeding.
Apart from usual signs of oestrus recognized by the owner it important to perform vaginal cytology. This enalbles us to determine the phase of the oestrus cycle of the bitch and the best time for breeding.
Hormonal assays are also used to predict the best time for mating. Levels of hormones are tested in a blood sample and their values tell us about the phase of the reproductive cycle of the bitch.
Both hormone assays and vaginal cytology are important for the timing of either natural mating or artificial insemination in order to have the best chance of the bitch conceiving.
Natural mating is performed by the bitch and sire with or without the help of the owners.
Artificial insemination is performed with either fresh or frozen semen.
We are the only vets in our country who have successfully produced litters of puppies with artificial insemination using frozen semen. This is a very complicated procedure and we rely on help from specialized centres established for artificial insemination of large animals.
Artificial insemination should be performed by professionals who should take care of both the bitch and the sire and also take care of personnel or owners helping with this procedure.
Our long standing experience in this field shows that the success rate of artificial insemination with fresh semen is about 80% which is either similar or higher in comparison to natural breeding. The higher success rate of artificial insemination is reliant on both the bitch's vaginal cytology and hormonal status being checked before the procedure. The sire's sperm quality is also checked and therefore we do not proceed if there are any abnormalities.
Artificial insemination is not harmful to the bitch or sire and any future matings can still be performed either naturally or artificially according to the circumstances at that moment.
When sire's sperm is taken, it is checked thoroughly. The findings of a sperm check are called a SPERMOGRAM. Colour, volume and density of the sperm, motility, and progressive motility, changes in the morphology of spermatozoids, percent of live and dead spermatozoa are all checked.
If the sperm quality is satisfactory, artificial insemination can be performed.
It should be emphasised that irregularities of the oestrus cycle of the bitch are very common, so the same approach to each and every patient is not possible. The approach should be adapted to an individual.
The first check up of an inseminated bitch is after 28-30 days, by ultrasound, when if the procedure has been successful we can see if live foetuses within the uterus
If the bitch is pregnant, we'll do further follow ups such as vaginal bacteriology or bacteriology checks of the bitch's milk, If bacteria are isolated then antibiotics may be prescribed based on sensitivity testing We also recommend vaccination of the pregnant bitch with a dead vaccine Vaccination of pregnant bitches is based on scientific research and a practical approve on a large number of animals. Prescription of correct diet etc.
The most exciting part of the whole breeding process comes 62-64 days after either natural breeding or artificial insemination and it is a delivery of the litter.
Sometimes veterinary assistance is necessary for a successful delivery. We are in regular contact with the owners in the last 10 days of pregnancy and pregnant bitches are checked at the surgery as a matter of routine.
Assistance at the delivery must be professional and efficient. Complications can be encountered if the assistance is inadequate. The life of the bitch and the litter can be at risk if a layman attempts to intervene.
By knowledge and long experience in this field, we have gained the trust of many owners and breeders. The offspring of the bitches which were inseminated at our surgery bring lots of happiness to many dog lovers.