At Tierklinik Stuttgart - Veterinary Specialist Hospital, we offer assistance from litter planning, pregnancy monitoring and support at parturition to puppy care. Likewise, we investigate causes of infertility and provide breeding soundness examinations for stud dogs.
We are also available as external lecturers in your kennel club.
• determination of optimal breeding time (including progesterone measurement with same-day test results)
• artificial insemination (vaginal transfer of fresh semen, endoscopic intrauterine transfer of frozen semen)
• pregnancy diagnosis (ultrasound, x-ray)
• treatment in case of dystocia (manual, medical and surgical intervention including c-section)
• neonatology (care of newborn puppies and kittens)
• diagnosis and treatment of infertility
• fertility assessment including semen examination of stud dogs (spermiogram)
• shipping of chilled canine semen
• cryopreservation, storage and shipping of frozen canine semen
Determination of the optimal time for mating or insemination is a crucial prerequisite for successful breeding. Especially in case of geographical distance between dam and sire, after previous negative pregnancy results or planned insemination, the determination of day of ovulation is useful (vaginal cytology, vaginoscopy, progesterone measurement).
Thereby the chances for establishment of pregnancy can be increased and the prediction of parturition date is more accurate. Usually, the examination is started on the 8th day of heat and, if necessary, repeated every 2-3 days to follow the progress of the estrus. Also, vaginal swabs can be taken for microscopic and bacteriological examination with susceptibility testing - this may be indicated in some cases, to recognize a possible endometritis (inflammation / infection of the uterine mucosa) or vaginitis which should then be treated before mating.
Artificial insemination (AI) is the process by which spermatozoa are placed into the female reproductive tract for the purpose of impregnation using means other than natural mating for various reasons. Possible pathologies should be ruled out via gynecological and andrological examination of the dam and sire prior to insemination. The procedure is usually well tolerated by the bitch, as it takes place during receptive behavior. We recommend repeated progesterone measurement to determine the day of ovulation and to perform an artificial insemination twice in the following days.
If fresh semen is used, it is collected directly on site and shortly examined. In case of good semen quality, a vaginal transfer will be performed. Therefore, an insemination catheter is introduced in the vagina and the ejaculate is deposited directly in front of the cervix (same place as in a natural mating). Afterwards the bitch is commonly held in a standing position with the hindquarters elevated. Under optimal conditions, physiological pregnancy rates of 70-90% can be reached.
Chilled semen can also be used, which will be sent to us within 48 hours after semen collection alio loco. This procedure requires a precise timing. A good communication between the involved veterinarians is therefore inevitable. The type of insemination depends on the sperm quality.
The third option is using frozen semen, which is stored at -196°C in liquid nitrogen and which is just thawed at the time of artificial insemination. In this case, however, due to a shorter survival time of the sperm, an exact determination of ovulation by means of progesterone measurements and an intrauterine insemination is absolutely inescapable. An endoscope is inserted into the vagina and the cervix is visualized. Then, a thin catheter is passed through the cervix and the thawed semen is placed directly into the uterus. Usually this method can be performed without sedation/anesthesia.
Early diagnosis of pregnancy can be done by ultrasound 3-4 weeks after mating depending on whether the exact day of ovulation is known or not. Therefore the bitch/ queen should be fasted prior to presentation at the vet in order to allow good condition for assessment of the abdomen. The patient is placed in dorsal position in a soft padded pillow (and clipped if necessary). The viability of the embryos can already be checked by visualizing the heartbeat. Thus, also the fetal number can be estimated. Hormonal measurement of relaxin is also possible for the diagnosis of pregnancy, but provides only a yes-or-no answer and no conclusion about fetal health status or fetal numbers. Radiography however, is the most accurate method for determining the number of fetuses. This can be done by the 6th - 7th week of pregnancy onwards, when fetal mineralization of the skeleton has started. Since the organs are already developed at this time point, X-rays are no longer dangerous for the puppies.
In case of positive pregnancy diagnosis, there are a few things to keep in mind from then on: The diet should be changed slowly, deworming is indicated again 2 weeks before parturition and a whelping box must be prepared, etc. For all these concerns, we are happy to assist and instruct you.
The signs listed below may indicate dystocia. In this case, you should contact us immediately. On the telephone, we may be able to give you valuable tips for first aid and we are able to prepare everything for your arrival at the hospital.
In the clinic, a general clinical and gynecological examination of the dam, blood tests and determination of the fetal heart rate by ultrasound will be performed. Afterwards we will discuss the treatment options with you.
There can be various indications for a caesarean section. According to statistics, dystocia results in 75% of cases from maternal factors and in 25% from fetal factors. Uterine inertia is the most common cause. An example for fetal reason is a singleton pregnancy. This often leads to a prolonged gestation time and the fetus becomes oversized for the maternal birth canal.
Manual and medical intervention may be started under certain circumstances. The health condition of mother and fetuses has to be assessed regularly and the birth progress closely monitored - nevertheless, a caesarean section might be necessary at any time.
In case of a caesarean section a suitable anaesthetic and neonatal resuscitation protocol is used. Puppies/Kittens are monitored and kept warm until the dam is awake. Before the surgical intervention is performed, we will discuss whether a simultaneous castration is desired – which can be medically necessary at any time.
Neonatology is the specialty of medicine that deals with the care, development and diseases of newborns. For assessment of the offspring it is important to regard the mother-puppy-unit as a whole. Therefore we highly advise you to not present a sole sick puppy/ kitten, but the whole litter including the dam. The mother could be the cause of a puppy’s/ kitten’s disease. Likewise, healthy puppies/ kittens can serve as a reference for better evaluation of the collected findings or even other sick puppies/ kittens can be identified in time. Often, a lack of weight gain is the first sign of disease.
Breeding soundness examination and fertility testing of the stud dog can be indicated before first mating, for elderly dogs and after negative pregnancy results.
Semen is collected by manual stimulation in presence of a teaser bitch. This method allows the male a physiological course of the reflex chain and libido can be stimulated. Semen is ejaculated in three fractions: the first pre-sperm fraction, the semen-rich fraction and the prostatic fluid. Semen evaluation is done in our in-house laboratory. Analysis is divided into a macroscopic (volume, color, consistency, pH value) and a microscopic (motility, concentration, morphology, proportion of dead sperm) examination. Afterwards, the total number of live sperm is calculated. If necessary, a bacteriological examination of prostate secretions as well as determination of Brucella canis antibody titer will be performed. In addition, a general clinical and andrological examination of the genital organs for evaluation of phenotypical health is carried out.
In order to allow veterinary certification of the results we kindly ask you to bring the dog‘s pedigree and vaccination passport with you. It will be neccessary to confirm the microchip number. Please note that results of semen evaluation is a snapshot and in case of doubt, repeated examination may be indicated. This will not make sense earlier than two months later to the first examination – (time period for production of a new sperm population).
Genetic material can be stored well beyond the lifetime of the donor dog by semen freezing (cryopreservation). For cryopreservation, semen collection and examination is performed in our in-house laboratory as descriped above. In case of good quality, the semen will be diluted with a commercial semen extender and after packaging and freezing process stored in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. On the following day, a semen portion is thawed on a trial basis to check how many sperm have survived the freezing and thawing process. A certain loss will always be present. Subsequently, it can be calculated how many semen portions for artificial insemination have been created. The so called „straws“ are your legal property and will be preserved at our laboratory until we receive written consent for insemination, shipping, export etc. from you. We will only charge monthly storage costs until usage.
Advantage of this procedure is the possibility of transporting semen (instead of dogs) for artificial insemination worldwide and storage of semen until use in the future.