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Dogs + Breeding

  • The estrous cycle in dogs on average happens twice a year once a dog reaches sexual maturity. On average a dog will be in heat for 1½ to 2 weeks but this can be shorter or longer. In many cases, a bloody vaginal discharge is the first sign that a pet owner will notice when their dog comes into heat. In some cases, the discharge will not be apparent until several days after heat has begun. There are no valid reasons for letting a dog have a litter of puppies before being spayed. If you want to keep your dog from having any accidental pregnancies, it is best to have her spayed.

  • On average, dogs go into heat about twice a year or every six months, although it varies from dog to dog. The most obvious sign of heat in dogs is vaginal bleeding. The time of mating is extremely critical and it is highly recommended that you have your female tested to determine the optimal days for breeding. This will improve your chance of success. If mismating occurs with your dog, contact your veterinarian to discuss options. Before breeding your dog, it is best to consult with your veterinarian to ensure the female is healthy and also to discuss the risks.

  • False pregnancy refers to a display of maternal behaviors combined with the physical signs of pregnancy following estrus in unspayed female dogs that are not actually pregnant. Signs include mammary gland enlargement with or without the production of milk, lethargy, periodic vomiting, and fluid retention. Mild cases typically are not treated; however, if your dog appears physically ill or the behavioral changes are severe enough to cause concern, treatment may include tranquilization and treatment with diuretics. If your dog will not be used for breeding, ovariohysterectomy is recommended.

  • This handout discusses the need for ensuring your pregnant dog is receiving adequate nutrition to make sure both she and her puppies thrive during this time of increased demands on her body. Feeding and diet suggestions are provided.

  • Special attention needs to be given to a dog’s nutrition during her pregnancy to promote a healthy birth and healthy puppies. It is important to maintain a good body condition throughout pregnancy as her weight increases. A good quality adult maintenance diet is recommended during the first 40 days but after this the energy demand increases greatly and this is most easily met by feeding puppy food. This diet is usually fed throughout the lactation period, but attention to body condition is essential here as well, and the diet may need to be restricted if there is a small number of puppies or the dog starts becoming overweight. Weaning is usually aided by feeding significantly less food for a few days while restricting access to nursing to decrease milk production.

  • All dogs evolved from a common ancestor and over the course of tens of thousands of years, evolution (mainly driven by humans looking for specific behaviors and characteristics) created the multitude of breeds in existence today. Humans started breeding dogs for pleasure in the 19th century and this led to dog shows and an intense diversification of the dog species into over 400 breeds recognized today. DNA tests can be performed on mixed breed dogs to determine their breed ancestry.

  • Hemophilia A and B are clotting disorders involving a deficiency of a specific clotting factor (A: Factor VIII, B: Factor IX) needed for appropriate homeostasis. They are caused by a sex-linked recessive genetic mutation. Affected dogs will show inappropriate hemorrhage including bruising, lameness induced by bleeding into joints and body cavity hemorrhage. It can be diagnosed with a slow APTT and demonstrating low levels of the factor involved. Hemophilia A is more common than B and is generally, more severe. Because it is sex-linked recessive, males are more likely to be affected than females but females still act as carriers, so genetic screening is important prior to breeding to prevent this disease.

  • There are many possible causes of infertility in female dogs, including behavioral, physical, and medical factors. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and testing to diagnose the reason for your female dog's infertility, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

  • There are many possible causes of infertility in male dogs, including behavioral, physical, and medical factors. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and testing to diagnose the reason for your male dog's infertility, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

  • Miscarriage refers to the death of a fetus during pregnancy. Miscarriages that occur early in pregnancy may be completely asymptomatic, while later-term miscarriages may result in stillborn puppies or mummification. Miscarriage can be caused by infection or hormonal influences. Diagnosis is key to appropriate management. If a dog develops a fever during pregnancy antibiotics may prevent miscarriage.

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