There is the possibility of having your bitch tested for progesterone levels. This
progesterone is important for determined the ideal mating time for a bitch. If, for
example, you have to travel a long distance for the stud dog of your choice (we have
had people who travel to the south of France or to Denmark), it is a comforting to
know that ovulation has actually taken place in the bitch.
This can be done with the Ovucheck Quantitative Assay test, a very reliable test
which measures the progesterone levels and is thus certainly not a visual test for
ovulation which is based on discolouring or the highly unreliable stip test.
measure for determining ovulation is the progesterone level in the blood. Progesterone
is a hormone that is released by the ovaries and only occurs during the last stage
of ovum development and rises to higher levels when ovulation actually takes place.
We can measure the levels of progesterone in the blood by means of a laboratory test
and a progesterone metre.
How does it work? The Vet takes millilitre of blood and
places it in the centrifuge. From this a sample is taken (in duplicate) which is
used in the test. Next, four standard values (of which the progesterone value is
precisely known) are introduced and the unknown sample from your dog. These standard
values are 0.5, 1, 5, and 10 ng progesterone (ng = nanogram). Thanks to a chemical
reaction, these substances are combined in Petri plates. After several treatments
(rinsing, new substances added using a pipette) the reaction is stopped. The test
substances and the blood now combine with a colouring agent to the progesterone and
this can be determined with a light metre.
The disadvantage of this test is that
is takes almost an hour and a half before a result is known, but you then have a
reliable result on which we can give a good, well-founded advice, either concerning
a subsequent test or that you should take your bitch to the stud.
advice, we use the following:
< 3 ng, test again in 3 days
3-5 ng, test again in
5-7 ng, test again in 1 day
7-10 ng, mate in 24 hours time
> 10 ng, mate
There is in addition a wide variation in different dogs concerning the
best mating time. There are bitches which already ovulate on day 8, but we have also
had bitches which do not ovulate until day 29. And with success: three beautiful
puppies. Actually, a season which lasted far too long, but it can happen. A good
ovulation and the best mating time will, however, not guarantee that this will lead
to a successful gestation. There are many other factors important for this. The womb
must be suitable for encasing the fertilised eggs, the transport of the eggs through
the Fallopian tube to the womb must take place normally, the bitch must not contract
any diseases or illnesses, the hormonal balance be good and remain so throughout
the pregnancy, and naturally the sperm of the stud dog used must be of good quality
if a successful fertilisation is to take place. In short, the progesterone test is
a great way of increasing the success rate for a pregnancy, but unfortunately it
gives no guarantee that puppies will actually be conceived or born.