As with anything you are considering for your dog,  artificial insemination has its pros and cons.

First of all, despite what some breeders are being told by a fertility clinic that performs AI, you do not have your bitch scanned any earlier than if it was a natural mating. A foetus is no further advanced at 21 days from an AI mating as opposed to a natural mating. I don't believe in telling breeders they can have a scan early and then telling them they will need to come back a week later, not only wasting breeders time and money, but leaving them with false hope that they will get confirmation of pregnancy, or not, at 21 days. When confirming a viable pregnancy it should be with an active heartbeat, which would be difficult to see before 28 days.

From my experience, and the bitches I scan, the success rate of AI is around 30%, this however will also be due to the skill of the person performing the procedure and the accuracy of progesterone testing beforehand.

Unfortunately, only half of the bitches I scan after receiving AI have been progesterone tested first, hence the low success rate. They are being told by the person performing the AI 'they are ready now', it won't matter anyway as the sperm will remain active for up to 7 days. Please ensure that whoever performs the AI procedure is suitably trained and insured, having seen a bitch who had her bladder ruptured during the procedure, things can, and do, go wrong.

So, why progesterone test...........

Old rules of thumb such as breeding between days 10 to 14 will not work in every case because of the variable length of standing heat (receptivity) and because the optimum time to breed may occur any time during, before, or after standing heat. Vaginal smears are often used to help diagnose the optimum time to breed. They are helpful as a rough guide to know when to begin insemination when doing a natural breeding (Live AI) But they are often not accurate enough to use alone when utilizing fresh chilled or frozen-thawed semen.

A more accurate method to properly time insemination is to measure serum progesterone levels via a blood progesterone test. During estrus, progesterone levels are as low as 0–2 ng/ml early on, rise to levels of 2.0–2.9 ng/ml during the LH surge continue to rise to 4–8 ng/ml on the day of ovulation (2 days after the LH surge), and may peak at levels as high as 25 ng/ml post ovulation. After ovulation has occurred, the eggs must go through a maturation process before they are capable of being fertilized. This process takes approximately 2 days. When fully mature, eggs can then be fertilized for about 48 hours. Thus, the optimum time to breed when using fresh chilled semen is 2 days after ovulation and 3–4 days after ovulation when using frozen semen due to its shorter life span.

There are a variety of reasons that breeders turn to artificial insemination.

Availability of stud
An in demand stud's availability may not match up to a female's heat cycle, and getting the two dogs together can be difficult. With artificial insemination, the insemination can be done when the dog's body is most receptive.

Geographic location
While the mobility of today's world is less prohibitive, getting a female to a stud that's 1,000 miles away is expensive and time consuming. Semen can be chilled and shipped overnight for use the next day or can be frozen and shipped for future use.

Stud no longer able to breed
Artificial insemination is also indicated if the stud has been injured and unable to mount. Collecting the stud's semen also allows for his bloodline to continue once he passes.

Once the sample is collected it can be placed in a long plastic or glass tube and infused into a female, placing the tube as close to the cervix as possible. In large dogs this could be several inches. Fresh semen should be used immediately, chilled, within 24 hours. Frozen semen is kept in containers of liquid nitrogen and can be kept for several years.

While the practice of artificial insemination is conducted by both veterinarians and by private individuals, it is still a relatively new practice in the canine world in the UK.

The success rate of artificial insemination in dogs is not as high as with other animals due to the instability of dog semen. In my experience less dogs become pregnant using this method. There also appears to be a higher re absorption rate, possibly due to infection from the insemination process if it is not carried out in a sterile environment.




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