Canine Ovulation Timing FAQ

Q: What is canine ovulation timing?

A: Canine ovulation timing is possible by analyzing levels of the reproductive hormone, progesterone in the blood. As a female approaches ovulation the levels of progesterone in the blood begin to rise. By charting this increase it is possible to predict the time of ovulation within a 24-hour window.

Q: How does it help, knowing the time of ovulation?

A: When semen can be placed in the uterus at exactly the right time prior to ovulation, much higher pregnancy rates and larger litters of puppies result. Ovulation timing with progesterone analysis is the most accurate method to determine proper time for mating or insemination.

Q: Why would I want to use ovulation timing?

A: Ovulation timing is critical in situations where semen must be shipped for artificial insemination. Timing is also critical when dealing with frozen semen or semen of questionable quality since the expected life span of this semen is significantly shorter than high quality, fresh semen. Because most frozen semen inseminations use either surgical or transcervical insemination techniques, timing of the breeding will help optimize conception and litter size. Ovulation timing also helps to predict accurately the date the puppies are due to be born. This helps to determine when to begin monitoring the female for signs of labor, and also gives a "cut off" date beyond which puppies would be considered "overdue".

Q: What is involved in ovulation timing?

A: Ovulation timing involves collection of a blood sample which is submitted to an endocrinology laboratory. Laboratories which offer radio immunoassay (RIA) progesterone with results available daily are recommended. Samples may be sent Fed Ex overnight for analysis by the laboratory service we prefer. For more information on sampling and analysis, please contact us.

Q: My veterinarian has a test kit for progesterone testing, is this good enough?

A: There are commercially available test kits for progesterone testing. These tests depend on a color change to determine when the dog is most fertile. Unfortunately many factors can affect the interpretation of this test. For consistency and accuracy, we recommend RIA progesterone testing with results provided by a measurable numerical value for the progesterone level.

Q: A laboratory in our city will run RIA progesterone, but my veterinarian is uncertain how to interpret the results, what can we do?

A: Progesterone value interpretation, and recommendations for breeding, can be difficult if it is not something that is done often. We often get calls from clients and veterinarians requesting interpretation of progesterone results. We are happy to provide consultation services for progesterone interpretation and ovulation timing. If you would like more information regarding these consultation services, please contact us.

Q: How many blood samples will be needed to estimate my dog's ovulation date?

A: The number of samples required to accurately predict an ovulation date varies depending on the stage of the dog's cycle on her first sample and the length of her ovulatory cycle. It is best to first sample the progesterone level days 5-7 days after signs of heat are noticed. Based on this initial progesterone value, an accurate recommendation for the follow-up test schedule can be made. Usually the ovulation date can be predicted with 3 tests. For information on costs and resources for progesterone testing, please contact us.