Ovulation testing is used to determine the best time to mate a bitch.
It is useful if you have to travel a long way to the stud dog, or if your bitch has a history of poor conception rates or failed previous matings. It is also useful in pin-pointing the time of conception, and therefore the expected whelping date.
Conventionally, bitches are mated at about the 12th or 13th day of the season, and this usually works fine. However, we have found that many bitches that have failed to conceive, or have had small litters in the past do not ovulate at the expected time. Correct mating time (even as late as the 24th day) has then resulted in good litters.
Traditionally, bitches whelp 63 days after mating, give or take seven days. We have found that bitches mated according to the timing from the ovulation test will whelp 64 days later, with very few exceptions. This can be very useful if your breed has a history of whelping problems, as it can be difficult to tell when a bitch has started, and therefore when to become alarmed at a lack of progress. A bitch which has been ovulation tested and has not whelped by day 65 is usually in trouble. Veterinary intervention is therefore earlier and more effective.
How does it work?
Shortly before ovulating, the concentration of the hormone progesterone in blood rises much higher than normal. It then remains high throughout the following 9 weeks (whether or not the bitch is pregnant). By knowing when this increase occurs, we can say when ovulation occurs, and so we know when conception will be best.
A blood sample is taken from the bitch in the morning and sent by guaranteed delivery to the lab.The result is available the next day, and will indicate if it is time to mate, or if not, when the next test should be done.
It is essential to start testing before the expected date so that the timing of the increase can be found. Blood samples are usually taken on the 7th or 8th day from the start of the season., and repeated at intervals until ovulation occurs.