The most successful time to mate a bitch is two days after she has ovulated, but how do you know when this is? I here so many people who say they mated day 10 and 12 or 12 and 14, like the stud owner suggested, and the bitch has missed. 

The only easily tested, reliable method of predicting ovulation in the bitch is a progesterone test. Ovulation occurs two days after the LH surge when progesterone levels are between 15 and 20 nmol/l. Most vet practices will take a blood sample, sent it to a lab and have the result the next day. A premate test (in house blood test) is a useful indicator of progesterone levels, but even when carried out by well trained staff it only gives a guide to progesterone levels.

Even experienced breeders can have difficulty judging the best time to mate, some bitches may ovulate as early as day five of the season and some as late as day twenty five. Certain lines of bitches may ovulate early or late after the season starts and knowing this may be helpful to decide when to start testing. In general, we would recommend that you start testing progesterone levels between day five and seven after the start of pro-oestrus (vulval bleeding and swelling), and repeat the test every two or three days depending on the result.

After ovulation it takes approximately 48 hours for eggs to mature before they can be fertilised, and it takes around 12 hours after ejaculation for fresh sperm cells to be able to fertilise an egg. Luckily canine sperm cells can live for up to five days once deposited inside the reproductive tract of the bitch, so although the best time to mate is two days after ovulation, matings just before ovulation can still produce puppies. If possible, two matings (24 – 48 hours apart) are recommended.

Progesterone testing is especially important if your bitch has failed to produce a litter previously and is vital when using chilled or frozen semen.

NOTE - It is very important that you use a vet to draw blood from your bitch for the purpose of progesterone testing. There are numerous 'fertility' clinics sprouting up around the Country, and even a registered veterinary nurse is not insured to draw blood from any animal without a vet on the premises. In order to reduce stress on your dog, blood should be drawn quickly and efficiently from the cephalic vein.

Not a week goes by that I don't have clients in complaining they have been to someone purportedly trained to draw blood and their dog has been, in their words 'stabbed numerous times'. It is illegal, and if anything should go wrong, you have no come back.

Chilled semen will only survive for 24 hours after warming, and frozen semen even less time at approximately 12 hours. So timing is vital in these cases, and to improve chances of success the sperm are usually helped on their way by placing them directly into the uterus rather than the vagina.

There are a few reputable ultrasound scanners who are able to confirm ovulation using swabs, a method called cytology, but there are also a lot of so called 'do it all 'fertility clinics offering all aspects of fertility, including cytology, and due to the lack of training they are giving false results. Do your homework and get recommendations from breeders/friends.

 

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Cats are slightly different to dogs and the queen can be bred at any time when in heat. Cats are induced ovulators, which means that the act of breeding stimulates the release of eggs from the ovaries. Most females require three to four matings within a 24-hour period for ovulation to occur. It only takes a minute or two for cats to mate, and cats may mate multiple times in a short period of time. Queens may mate with several different tomcats during this time, so it is possible that a litter of kittens may have several different fathers. Once ovulation has occurred, the queen will go out of heat within a day or two.

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